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Five candidates seek commissioner positions

The Gazette

The candidates

Harold C. Craig Jr., 73, has lived in Emmitsburg for 38 years and is unmarried. He is retired after 38 years with the Internal Revenue Service as a tax law specialist in the office of the chief counsel. Craig has no experience as an elected or appointed official. He was appointed as an alternate member of the town planning commission, but resigned. Craig is a trustee of Emmitsburg Presbyterian Church and belongs to the Emmitsburg Area Historical Society and the Friends of the Library, Emmitsburg branch.  

Stanley C. Mazaleski, 73, has lived in Emmitsburg for 15 months. He and wife Charlotte have four grown children. He has worked as an environmental health scientist for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and as a scientist and criteria manager with National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Mazaleski has no experience as either an elected or appointed government official. He was recently elected as vice chair of the Emmitsburg Coalition to Prevent Substance Abuse. He is a member of Sigma Xi, a national engineering and science society, and New York Academy of Science.  

William B. O'Neil Jr., 45, has lived in Emmitsburg for two years. He and wife Marlene have two children. O'Neil worked on Capitol Hill as the legislative director for three congressional members for 10 years and was the Special Assistant to the Montgomery County executive and an aide for about six years. He is the chief lobbyist for Blue Cross Blue Shield South Carolina and has been for five years. O'Neil is president and co-founder of Citizens Organized to Preserve Emmitsburg, Friends of the Library, Emmitsburg branch and a member of the Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association.  

Clifford L. Sweeney, 38, has lived in Emmitsburg his whole life. He and wife Elizabeth have two children. Sweeney graduated from Catoctin High School and has worked for 19 years for W.F. Wilson and Sons as a construction foreman. He has been a town commissioner for eight years. He is the town treasurer and has been the board's liaison to the planning and zoning, parks and streets commissions. He is also a member of the Knights of Columbus, Emmitsburg Community Chorus, St. Joseph's Catholic Church and the Emmitsburg Little League.  

Dianne L. Walbrecker, 48, has lived in Emmitsburg about 13 years. She is engaged to be married and has two grown children. She has been a small business owner of Getting it Write for about 22 years. She was the chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission for a year and a member for four, a member of the board of appeals for two years and the chair of the parks committee. She is also a member of Emmitsburg Presbyterian church, the Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association and the publicity chair for the Emmitsburg Lions Club.  

Q If elected, what are your top three priorities and what do you intend to do about them?

Craig: My top priority is to work with Commissioner Art Elder and [fellow candidate] Bill O'Neil to get things done in town. We are most concerned about the sewers and the traffic situation. It's impossible to cross the streets even at the crosswalks. I am also interested in a bypass and have been promoting it for some time.

Mazaleski: I just discovered there's a serious lead, iron and copper contamination problem in the drinking water in every house in town, including my own. That's a top priority for me. Second is the sewer line repair and the third is getting a southern bypass project.

O'Neil: 1) Stop residential over-development, but attract new businesses; 2) Repair our sewers which are in crisis and leaking raw sewage into our streams and environment; and 3) Reduce traffic, part of which will involve building a bypass.

Sweeney: 1) Fixing sewer and water lines on Mountain View Road, fixing sewer line at Little Run and South Seton Avenue; and 2) Traffic. A traffic bypass could adversely affect town businesses so we have to come up with other ideas for how to deal with that problem. We need to get new water sources online which is also an important project.

Walbrecker: 1) Seek out citizen input for long-range planning for everything we do; 2) Increase communication and understanding between town staff, elected officials and residents by including more forums and through cooperation; 3) Working with citizens and youth to find activities for youth in the community.  

Q The issue of affordable housing has come up because of rising home prices in town and the area. Do you have any plans to address that concern?

Craig: Not really. I don't know how that can be addressed. The cost of building is far beyond the ability of persons of modest circumstance to pay. I don't believe, on my income, I would be able to afford the housing that is being built here now.

Mazaleski: Absolutely, we have to explore everything on the books to help provide affordable housing including lower interest rates, longer payback times and less stringent qualification criteria. We could also look at renovating abandoned housing.

O'Neil: I think there is affordable housing stock within Emmitsburg right now. We need to provide tax incentives for people to make it attractive for them to buy these homes and also to refurbish homes that normally would not be attractive to the common buyer by using two levels of tax incentives.

Sweeney: I think we should have some affordable houses in the town limits. My wife and I can't afford to buy one of these new houses here. I'm for the Interfaith Houses and encouraging some of those and other government funded houses would be wonderful. I think we need some kind of condominiums because sometimes older people when their children are grown want something smaller. And building some affordable townhouse and duplex developments in town would be nice, too.

Walbrecker: I think that affordable housing is crucial and we need to have it throughout our area. We don't want isolated areas of high income in some areas and low income in others. I will have to consider all the possible options before making a decision about which might be best for Emmitsburg.  

Q Do you think recycling should be brought back to Emmitsburg and, if so, how would you plan to do that?

Craig: Yes, it should be brought back. We have bins that are picked up on Fridays but I would advocate having a drop-off location again. Recycling should be in Emmitsburg. It is part of the solution to ecological problems.

Mazaleski: We have to do it like every other part of county. I don't see why that would be a problem with pick-up in each community. I don't know why Emmitsburg should be treated like a second class citizen. We need to shake them up down there [in Winchester Hall].

O'Neil: I already looked into recycling. It's a county program and I was told the county is phasing it out. The station in Emmitsburg was overly used by commuters from Pennsylvania .... We need to encourage county officials to fund the program at our home curbside because it's the right thing to do.

Sweeney: Yes, it should be brought back. I didn't want it to leave. [Residents} on South Seton [Avenue]wanted the recycling center moved and signed a petition to have it removed. We didn't have anywhere else to move it. As a town we should request to move it back to town because we have the room for it now. I would propose the center be next to the new community center.

Walbrecker: I've already proposed that to the mayor and commissioners and have asked for it to be put on the town meeting agenda. As the representative of the Emmitsburg Council of Churches, I'm tasked with this issue because they voted unanimously to support it. I already have several possible locations to be considered at the town meeting.  

Q Do you think the town needs a bypass and if so, how would you propose to pay for it? If by grants, have you done any research into this possibility?

Craig: Emmitsburg needs a bypass and we should pay for it with grants, loans, gifts or whatever. We want to work together with Pennsylvania to form a regional organization to promote a northern bypass and I would like a southern bypass, too. I am not familiar with the grant process, but Mr. O'Neil is.

Mazaleski: The southern bypass is the only way you can go and it will take care of those thousands of trucks, short-cutting through the town. There's a lot of pollution in town created by the trucks and cars, and no one has mentioned that. The state and federal government will pay it for it.

O'Neil: Yes. There's far too much commuting traffic, as well as truck traffic through town. I've researched the possibilities of grants and my career is based on securing grants for public works projects. We have every right to get public funds to fix our roads, build a bypass and repair our sewers.

Sweeney: I think the town needs some kind of residential bypass, because we can't take the big trucks through the developments. Our comprehensive plan has ideas already about a northern bypass. I don't think the town should pay for it. It should be paid for by grants or bonds or by new development. The town tried to look into getting state grants but there is no money at this time. We can look into federal grants.

Walbrecker: I think the issue of a bypass is a distraction from what we need to do now. I don't know if we need a bypass, but there are long-term ramifications to a bypass, such as loss of business to Main Street, that must be considered. I'm not sure what the answer is.

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