(Jan. 8, 2004) Emmitsburg's town
election in April could pan out to be at least as interesting
as last year's race, with four candidates already announcing
they will compete for the two seats coming up for grabs.
Town council president Pat Boyle said
this week there is a 90 percent likelihood he will not run
again, quitting after six years in office.
"I promised my wife after the last
election I wasn't' going to run," he said.
Planning and Zoning Commissioner
Clifford Sweeney said this week he will run for re-election.
He will be joined by residents Harold C. Craig Jr., William B.
O'Neil Jr, and Dianne L. Walbrecker.
Each of the latter three candidates
said they are already planning their campaigns. And though the
commissioner objectives differ in some areas, each candidate's
primary stated goal is to protect Emmitsburg from what they
Craig, 73, is a 37-year resident of
the town with roots in the area back to the 18th century. He
is the vice-president of Citizens Organized to Preserve
Emmitsburg Inc. (COPE) and was instrumental in last year's
effort to defeat the annexation of the 67-acre Silver Fancy
farm for development.
Craig and O'Neil worked with a couple
dozen other residents to bring the previously approved
annexation to referendum.
Once on the ballot, the annexation was
soundly defeated and one of the commissioners who voted to
approve it originally lost his seat to another COPE member,
Craig said he is running for office
due to "real problems that should have been solved 20 years
ago, for example our failing sewer system," and that his goal
as commissioner will be to "preserve the best of Emmitsburg
and improve the rest."
He said he is not anti-development,
but rather anti-over-development.
"I'm not opposed to development as
such but I'm opposed to over-development, when development
exceeds the infrastructure not just sewer and water, but
schools and traffic," Craig said.
This year Emmitsburg's town council
has committed hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair leaks
in the sewer system that is allowing literally millions of
gallons of stormwater to run into the lines, ultimately
leading to sewage overflows.
The town is currently seeking bids
from companies to conduct the repairs.
O'Neil, 44, is the president and a
co-founder of COPE and has been a resident of Emmitsburg for
about two years.
Since arriving in the town, he has
regularly attended town meetings and testified on multiple
issues, most often in opposition to further development in the
O'Neil is the Federal Affairs
Representative for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of South Carolina
and formerly acted as the Legislative Director on Capitol Hill
for 10 years.
He also was the president and founder
of the Congress Legislative Staff Association and has been a
member since 1985.
O'Neil has decades of experience in
local government in the areas of planning and zoning, economic
development, water resource matters, public works and
transportation. As a result of his experience, he believes the
town should have no further residential development until the
infrastructure, such as water, sewer and roads can support it.
He also supports seeking more
commercial development because, he said, it provides a greater
tax base for the town without creating nearly the
infrastructure demand that residential development creates.
Developing an Adequate Public
Facilities Ordinance modeled after the county's ordinance and
requiring developers to finance all infrastructure associated
with their developments are only two other of O'Neil's goals.
He also plans to improve public
accessibility to information about what is going on in
government and said he thinks every document the town council
members examine in a meeting should be duplicated for the town
residents to review.
Some people don't want the town
residents to have that much information because it will likely
raise a lot of questions, he said.
Walbrecker, 48, has lived in the town
for about 13 years and for most of the last 18 years, she has
owned her own business, "Getting It Write."
The company ghost writes books on
marketing and management and develops training materials for
government and corporate clients.
Walbrecker said she has had a mission
since she came to Emmitsburg, from Manassas, Va. After
watching what she said was the "quaint, friendly town" of
Manassas "taken over by developers," she committed herself to
not let that happen in Emmitsburg.
"I watched them tear up the
countryside ...I came (to Emmitsburg) because it was small,
friendly and unique. I've been doing everything I can since I
came to make sure it stays that way," Walbrecker said.
To that end she goes to as many town
meetings as she can and has served on the town's Board of
Appeals for two years, on the Planning Commission for five
years. She also helped work on the town's current
Walbrecker said she is about fixing
problems, not complaining about them.
"Instead of moaning and complaining, I
look for specific problems and solutions," she said. "I
believe if people work together they can solve problems rather
than blaming other people."
Other issues include encouraging
citizen involvement in government. She said she would like the
town to deliver flyers in neighborhoods affected by issues to
be considered and not just advertising in the newspaper or
putting the information on the town's cable channel.
"I know how badly (Emmitsburg) can be
destroyed if people aren't paying attention," she said.
The Emmitsburg town election will be
held on Tuesday, April 27. The deadline to file for candidacy
is noon on Friday, April 16.
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