Ashley Andyshak Hayes
(9/11) The two candidates for mayor of Emmitsburg will meet for a debate Wednesday evening at the Vigilant Hose Co.
The town’s newspaper has traditionally sponsored a candidates debate each year, said Mike Hillman, editor of the Emmitsburg News-Journal.
This year, Hillman teamed up with the Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association to develop a resident-led debate between Mayor Jim Hoover and challenger Don Briggs.
The debate committee chose three Emmitsburg residents to develop questions for the candidates. Hoover and Briggs will face questions from Jeff Little, head of the Emmitsburg Baseball and Softball League; Susie Ott-Glass, owner of the Ott House Pub; and Rich Kapriva, former member of the Emmitsburg Zoning Board. The Rev. John Greenstone of
Elias Lutheran Church will moderate and will step in to ask questions if one of the other three residents is unable to attend the debate.
"We were looking for residents who have an understanding of the issues in Emmitsburg and who would be able to ask insightful and thoughtful questions," Hillman said.
The debate will be held at 7 p.m. at the Vigilant Hose Co., 25 E. Main St. Residents will vote Sept. 27.
Hoover is running for his fourth term as mayor. He was appointed to fill an open commissioner seat in 1998 and was re-elected to that seat later that year. He was first elected mayor in 2002.
Hoover said he had expected some competition in the race this year, but was surprised that Briggs waited to file his candidacy until the last few days of eligibility.
Hoover said he is most proud of improvements to the town’s infrastructure that have taken place during his tenure, particularly with regard to water and sewer services and fire hydrant upgrades. He said the town’s financial situation has also improved.
"When I came into office in ’98, the town had to go to the bank and borrow money to make it with operations and payroll," he said. "We’re not doing that anymore."
He said he also has tried to foster a small-town feeling within Emmitsburg through facilitating and promoting pool parties, the town’s farmers market, and other town functions. Hoover said he’s also made an effort to improve communication with residents through bulletin boards and his personal website, mayorhoover.com.
Hoover said his main goals if re-elected are to continue to promote infrastructure upgrades, including the state-mandated sewer plant that will be constructed in the next few years. He also would like to establish a citizens academy through which residents can learn more about the role of town government, he said.
Briggs is a real estate appraiser and owner of Briggs Associates Inc. He did not respond to several requests for an interview for this story.
Commissioner Chris Staiger is also running unopposed for a third term on the board.
Staiger said his biggest success over the last three years has been "turning the board into an effective counterweight to the mayor and town staff."
"Five of six elected officials sit on the board and we need to take seriously our responsibility to drive town policy," Staiger wrote in an email. "The board is no longer a rubber stamp sitting in subservience to a string of strong mayors."
The town government now needs to focus on economic development, he said, with the commissioners becoming more active in finding such opportunities.
"Like altering the direction of the Titanic, it takes time, but it won’t happen at all unless we begin making a concerted effort," Staiger said.
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