(4/13) Gazette Editor’s note: The Gazette asked candidates in a contested race for the three open seats on the Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners to answer the same set of questions and limit their responses. Some answers have been edited for space.
Registered voters in the Town of Emmitsburg will have the opportunity to vote for two candidates for the town’s Board of Commissioners on April 25. The elected commissioners will serve until October 2009.
This will be the last spring election the town holds. After this election, all town elections will be held in October, and all terms will be three years. Board members in 2003 voted to change the election date to the Tuesday preceding the first Monday in October to give new
board members a chance to get acquainted with their positions before voting on the budget in May.
One of the open seats on the board was created when Commissioner Art Elder opted not to run for a second term. The other open commissioner’s seat was created when town officials voted to add a fifth commissioner to the town’s board on Jan. 18.
Catherine Forrence, Joyce Rosensteel and Clifford Sweeney are all running in the election. All three have run for political office in Emmitsburg before.
Rosensteel served as a town commissioner from May 2002 to May 2005 and Sweeney served as a commissioner from May 1997 to May 2004. Forrence ran for commissioner in the April 2005 election, but was defeated.
The Emmitsburg town election will be held from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 25 at the Resident Deputy Office, 22 E. Main St., Emmitsburg.
Q: Why do you feel you are the best candidate to serve as a commissioner in Emmitsburg?
Forrence: I have a proven track record of results, not just election-year promises, and the backbone to stand up for what is in the community’s best interest. Further, I am committed to working collaboratively with the current board in achieving the goals of
Emmitsburg’s Comprehensive Plan.
Rosensteel: Having served three years as a commissioner for Emmitsburg and 19 years in city government functions, I feel my experience will continue to be helpful to the Town of Emmitsburg.
Sweeney: I’ve been commissioner in the past for eight years, planning and zoning commissioner for two years, streets commissioner for three years and parks commissioner for three years. I believe that qualifies me for that position. I’m honest, trustworthy and love
Emmitsburg with all my heart.
Q: What are the three most important issues facing the town in the next few years? Please list them in order of importance
Forrence: The three most important issues are the completion of the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, the Comprehensive Plan and the subsequent update of the Emmitsburg Code to reflect those policies. Traffic and pedestrian safety are also a top priority, as well as better management of the multi-year Capital Improvement Management plan.
Rosensteel: Like many residents of Emmitsburg, I'm concerned about many pressing issues that Emmitsburg faces. Issues like fixing our water and sewer problems, resolving traffic congestion, fighting drugs, assuring the vitality of our public schools; youth activities and
ensuring the correctness of government spending.
Sweeney: Infrastructure; schools; smart growth residential and business (see next question for further explanation)
Q: How will you handle the issues you mentioned above if elected?
Forrence: My priorities as commissioner will be translating Emmitsburg’s vision of the future (comprehensive plan) into law (Emmitsburg’s
code). I will continue addressing pedestrian safety and will make planning for a bypass a priority. Taking concrete steps to improve planning, funding, and implementation of capital improvements will benefit all residents.
Rosensteel: Learn the facts. Get expert advice. Consider all alternatives. Insist that the town decide quickly and act aggressively.
Sweeney: My background in the water and sewer business helps me understand what is needed to fix the problem. I will search for grants to fund repair and maintain infrastructure. Our schools are over capacity. We need to push Frederick County into moving us up on the list
for school repair money. I have talked to Frederick County commissioners about the situation, and will stay on their backs until it is done. Emmitsburg needs affordable housing and new businesses to help our tax base and community.
Q: Frederick County officials will soon start working on the Thurmont Region Plan, which includes Emmitsburg. What concerns or issues do you think are important to consider in this plan?
Forrence: The Catoctin Mountain Highway between Thurmont and Emmitsburg has two significant designations; it is part of the Journey Through Hollowed Ground and part of the National Scenic Byway. The Thurmont Region Plan must measure its growth plan against the goals and
policies of those scenic designations.
Rosensteel: I think we should all be concerned that Frederick County does not plan for great population density without including plans for the expanded government facilities and services, such as infrastructure, schools, police and fire protection, etc.
Sweeney: I think Emmitsburg is always overlooked. Having a commissioner like me hounding the county commissioners about our needs, concerns and issues is in the best interest of our community. Farming, fire and ambulance, schools, or whatever is needed — I will devote my
time and efforts helping in all those areas.
Q: Should ethics complaints and investigations involving elected officials be made public? Why?
Forrence: By law, ethics complaints and investigations are confidential and fall under the executive function of the commission. The primary function of the commission, however, is to provide advisory opinions regarding the conduct of public officials. Unfortunately, those
with political motives often use the commission to further their political agenda.
Rosensteel: You can't stop people from broadcasting complaints, but the government should not do it for them. If investigations result in any penalty, the town should publish the facts because the official may seek office again. If an investigation acquits the official, then
the matter should remain unpublished to protect reputations.
Sweeney: Yes. I think after the ethics complaint is made and investigated, it most definitely should be public knowledge. The public put them in office and the public should be aware of the results.
Read other news stories related to the Emmitsburg Town