York City residents happy with their representatives on the York City Council can vote to keep two Democratic incumbents. Or, they can opt to change course by electing a Libertarian or Republican newcomer.
Four people are vying for two four-year terms on the council.
The incumbent Democrats are Henry Nixon, a retired longtime city resident, and Renee Nelson, a teacher. Nixon and Nelson are each seeking a second term.
They face challenges from Republican Cynthia Martin, a retired nurse, and Libertarian Manuel Gomez, who works as an interpreter.
A two-year term is also up for grabs,
but Democratic incumbent David Satterlee is the only person seeking it.
The York Dispatch posed the following questions to the candidates. For additional questions and answers, visit yorkdispatch.com.
Question: It's not uncommon to hear the complaint that York City is not "business-friendly." Do you share this sentiment? What do you think the city could do to improve its relationships with existing businesses and attract others?
Gomez: Yes. The city must undertake a complete overhaul of its initial business permitting process. As it is now, the process for opening a business and maintaining compliance with the city's burdensome rules and regulations is far too cumbersome, vague and restrictive. The permitting process should be simple, streamlined and predictable. As I've advocated for years, I will see to it that protectionist city ordinances such as the city's food vendor rules be updated to remove existing barriers to entry and allow for the enhancement of the city's commercial vitality and overall economy. It's high time for the city to relax its well known regulatory stances and give the people some breathing room to engage in open commerce. This includes the rejection of a commuter tax and any and all failed ideas emanating from the business-as-usual crowd.
Martin: No answer.
Nelson: I think we have been making great strides in working with businesses and their needs. We have many new businesses that have begun in the past year. I also request any that are having issues to email or call us on council. We are always willing to listen.
Nixon: Top of mind is the recent council vote to keep the Gamewell system. Not only is a business, small or large, required to hook up to Gamewell to the tune of $3,500-$5,000, but it must make payments of some $400 per month. In addition, all commercial properties are required to have a redundant system -- another $400 per month. All this to keep a 127-year-old deteriorating system that is reminiscent of Downton Abbey. Such an unnecessary extra expense for a business. Economic & Community Development issues permits and reviews plans for new businesses and any renovation or expansion. The staff has been crippled by cuts. Properly staffed, waiting periods would be reduced and there would be quick action on questions, inspections and approvals. But, this comes with a price.
Question: If you are elected, what can York City residents expect from you in terms of legislation and priorities? Do you have goals and/or ideas that you intend to introduce into the council's agenda?
Gomez: I'm here for the homeowners, the businesses and the residents that are desperately seeking someone to take a stand and give them a fighting chance. I've demonstrated the ability to ask the tough questions and follow through when others won't. I want to lessen the regulatory burden and cost of doing business in York and my legislative approach will be reflective of that. I want to reinforce council's role as a separate and distinct branch of government, not a rubber stamp strictly beholden to the administration's whims. I promise intense scrutiny of governmental affairs in every area where the government impacts city residents' lives, with a focus on putting the people first and correcting the imbalance of power that marks our current situation.
Martin: We have to stop unnecessary spending. If we don't want the residents of York to leave the city, we can't increase taxes. So we must work within the bounds of the budget. The city residents can't write checks when they have no money to back them up. Therefore, the city should be very careful with their spending when there is no additional money to spend. Also, the city can't afford to pay for some of the higher-dollar pensions. This is a big strain on the budget. This causes the taxes to go up. If we lower the pension amount for new hires, and keep the percentage of future increases in line with what the budget allows, that would help lower taxes. The taxes going down would make it more attractive for outsiders to move into the city.
Nelson: I would like to continue to make sure we don't tax out our seniors. Work with the schools to create a friendly environment where people want to move in and not out.
Nixon: I will make every effort to ensure that we are actually planning for success, not just managing decline. I will continue my regular meetings with the mayor and her cabinet to lay out strategic goals, solve problems, get results, advance ordinances and resolutions that meet those goals, and move our city forward in a productive and professional manner. I will work tirelessly to continue the improvement of many of our city neighborhoods and to reverse the decline of others. I will lobby to add personnel who check nuisance property violations and bolster the "citizen inspector" program, which empowers residents to improve their neighborhoods. I will continue to seek multi-municipal collaborations to strengthen current delivery of services and save precious human and financial resources.
-- Reach Erin James at firstname.lastname@example.org.