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 Town Council President Blanchard resigns

Scott Zuke

(2/6) Commissioner Glenn Blanchard announced his immediate resignation from the Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners on Wednesday, February 6, and released the following statement:

"Town Commissioner Glenn Blanchard has decided due to ongoing health issues to resign from the town commission.  He would like to thank the other town commissioners, mayor, and town staff for all their all hard work.  He would also like to thank the people of Emmitsburg who voted for him and supported him over the last seven years."

There will be a special meeting on Monday, Feb 11 at 7:30pm for the Mayor and Commissioners to discuss the procedure for moving forward. The meeting is open to the public. According to Town Manager David Haller, the town charter states that the commissioners will appoint someone to fill Blanchardís seat until the next regular election, which will be held in September.

"Glenn will be missed," said Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs. "In his own quiet, resourceful, deliberative way he served the town for nearly two terms. He was particularly involved with his church and the veterans organizations in town."

In happier times - Glenn Blanchard (R) toasts his 2005 election to the Emmitsburg Town Council with then Mayor Jim Hoover (L) and Christ Staiger (M)

Blanchard, a history teacher at Tuscarora High School, was elected to the Board of Commissioners in 2005.  He is credited with providing crucial support to the effort led by Chris Staiger, then president of the Board, to restore order and civility to the Council following an ethics scandals involving former commissioners Art Elder and Bill O'Neil

Commissioner Staiger praised Blanchard's record of promoting community welfare and improving public events and facilities.  "I'll miss his viewpoint, which was typically one of moderation," Staiger said. "In the end, I think he may have gotten caught up in another period of contention."

In a controversial 'shake-up' after last year's election, Blanchard was selected to become the new president of the Board of Commissioners, replacing Staiger for the leadership role.  Mayor Briggs made the recommendation for the change, which was approved by the Board on October 1 in a 3-2 vote with the support of Blanchard, along with Commissioners Cliff Sweeney and Tim O'Donnell.

Commissioners Staiger and Patrick Joy voted against the change and voiced concerns that the Mayor's recommendation was based on a communications breakdown between Briggs and Staiger on plans for economic development and the best way to utilize town staff.  

Blanchard had worked closely with Staiger throughout his years on the Town Council, but taking over as president put him in the middle of the dispute with the Mayor and aggravated divisions between the Board members.

Nevertheless, his decision to step down caught some members of the Board off guard.  "[Blanchard's] choice to leave his position is a surprise," said Commissioner O'Donnell, who became Vice President of the Council in October's leadership shuffle. "I profoundly respect Glenn and am certain he is doing what he has determined is best for his family and his own health. As President of the Board of Commissioners, Glenn brought his extensive academic experience and good, common sense."

This is the third time in recent years that a member of the Town Council has resigned.  In 2002, Chris Stahley stepped down two years into his three year term, citing work and home responsibilities.  Since his departure occurred just after an election, the mayor was able to appoint the runner-up to fill the vacancy.

Dianne Walbrecker resigned from the Board in 2005, citing increased responsibilities with her job that were impacting her abilities to to balance her duties as commissioner.  Her resignation came just before an election, so her seat was filled through the normal electoral process.

Blanchard's departure follows an election in which two candidates ran unopposed for two open seats, so it remains uncertain who the Board will consider for the appointment.

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