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Leadership shake-up on
Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners

Pete McCarthy
News-Post Staff

(10/2) Commissioner Chris Staiger said he is convinced a rift between himself and the mayor led to his ouster as Board of Commissioners president Monday night.

Staiger remains on the board, but he will not hold the top leadership position for the first time since being elected seven years ago.

"The mayor and I had a real communication breakdown starting in July," Staiger said. "I understand the political line that's being presented."

Mayor Donald Briggs has the power to recommend who he thinks should hold the top posts on the commission. His choices were Glenn Blanchard as president, Tim O'Donnell as vice president and Clifford Sweeney as treasurer.

Those three commissioners voted in favor of the leadership changes.

"I feel confident I can do the job," said Blanchard, who was serving as vice president until the promotion. "It's an honor to serve. ... I have big shoes to fill. I will try to do the best I can."

Staiger said he believed the mayor solicited the other members behind the scenes to have them take charge of the commission.

Briggs said he only made the changes to give other members a chance at leadership positions.

After the meeting, Briggs said he had no personal problem with Staiger.

"Not with me," Briggs said. "I've had no issues."

Briggs was elected mayor a year ago. He said the rotating change is done in other jurisdictions with elected boards.

Commissioner Patrick Joy was the only one to vote with Staiger to keep the board the same.

"Voting for change for the sake of change doesn't always work out," Joy said.

Following the meeting, Staiger explained his beliefs about the shake-up.

The two sides have differing opinions on how the town's planning staff should be utilized, he said. Staiger said the mayor is too preoccupied with chasing after grants instead of spending more time on planning activity.

There is also a personnel issue, Staiger said, that has himself and the mayor in disagreement.

He also said he felt the mayor was trying to overstep his power.

"I tend to be a firm supporter of the independence of the board of commissioners," Staiger said. "It is not up to the mayor to propose policies for the board. ... There's this personal conflict that's been building."

Staiger said he would continue to serve the residents of Emmitsburg as best he can.

"I still have a voice as an individual commissioner," Staiger said.

The change went into effect immediately Monday night.

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