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Six in Adams County Commissioner
 race so far

(2/1) The recent reassessment of properties in Adams County (the first in 20 years) has created such anger at significantly higher assessments in many cases and confusion among residents over the appeals process that it has created an environment for the county commissionersí race this year that already has six declared candidates. Three Republicans and three Democratic candidates are running for three seats on the board of commissioners.

The recent reassessment of properties in Adams County (the first in 20 years) has created a great deal of anger, stemming both from significantly higher assessments and from a confusing appeals process. This anger has greatly affected the upcoming county commissionersí race which already has six declared candidates. Three Republicans and three Democratic candidates are running for three seats on the board of commissioners.

While the reassessment has led to the candidate-rich race, they cannot impact the decisions that resulted from that issue. The new board of commissioners will be dealing with other issues that face the county.

"I think the reason people are coming out is because of the recent reassessment and how it was handled, but we need to look at things like taxation, the budget and land conservation," said candidate Chuck Strevig (D-Union Township). She is retired from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare after working there for 29 years.

"We need to find how to improve commerce without upsetting the balance we have with our rural communities," said candidate Jim Martin (R-Biglerville). Martin is currently a Realtor with Prudential Real Estate.

Two candidates running for election are current commissioners George Weikert (R-Cumberland Township) and Lisa Woodward-Moreno (D-Mount Joy Township). They stand the biggest risk of experiencing a voter backlash because of the reassessment process. Commissioner Glen Snyder chose not to run for re-election.

"I believe the county wide reassessment will be the major issue in this yearís election and I am prepared to address the process," Weikert said. Before being elected a county commissioner, Weikert was a township supervisor for 13 years and a member of the Gettysburg Area School District board for four years.

He explained that the outcome from the mass appraisal process was consistent with the effects other counties experienced when they underwent the same sort of reassessment.

"Everyone was afforded their due process and hopefully followed through the appeal process in order to get a value which they thought was fair and equitable," Weikert said.

One candidate who might argue with that is Paul Kellett (D-Freedom), who filed suit against the county over the reassessments as a Freedom Township supervisor. He is a Freedom Township supervisor and a Realtor with Community Benefits Real Estate in Gettysburg.

"Iím very distressed on how they [the commissioners dealt] with the reassessment," Kellett said. "I donít feel they negotiated in good faith and they didnít follow the court order. Itís gone beyond incompetence and is a little dishonest."

Martin said one of the things he wants to change if elected commissioner is the voter accessibility to the government. For instance, he wants to change the daytime commissioner meetings to an evening hour when more people would be available to attend.

Strevig said she will bring a sense of mediation and compromise to the board of commissioners and be someone who works to achieve a consensus among all parties involved in various issues.

Weikert said he decided to run for a second term because, "I believe I have been successful in leading Adams County through the difficult economic and political challenges which we have all been struggling through in the last few years."

Randy Phiel (R-Cumberland Township) said, "One of the biggest general issues for Adams County is to find a blend of its rural quality of life with economic development." He sees the growing agri-tourism in the county as one way to do this. He would also encourage the development of agri-technology businesses and high-tech business parks to help accomplish this.

Phiel is a Cumberland Township supervisor and the operations manager for the annual Civil War re-enactment in Gettysburg. He has a background in law enforcement and has been a small business owner.

Kellett said that the county needs to become leaner and more efficient in its operations because it is facing reduced funding from federal and state source.

"Iím a small business owner. I know how to stretch a dollar," he said.

Martin said he would make better use of underutilized buildings for businesses in the county and use the sheriff for courthouse security. He said doing both things would save the county money.

Candidates interested in running have until March 8 to turn in their paperwork at the Adams County Courthouse. The primary is May 17.

Woodward-Moreno was contacted about the article but did not respond by press time.

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