Five candidates are running for four seats in the Nov. 5 election in New Freedom.

Incumbents include Republicans Dennis Sarpen, Ken Earll, Gene Andrews and Brady Terrell.

They are facing a challenge from Democrat Bruce Merrill.

Biographical information:

Gene Andrews (R)

No response

Ken Earll (R)

No response

Bruce Merrill (D)

Age and address: 61, of Glenray Court

Family: Married 39 years, 2 Children, 3 Grandchildren

Occupation: Self-employed defense consultant

Education: BS Rutgers; MS University of Arizona

Community organizations with which you are active: New Freedom Borough Zoning Board Member; New Freedom Heritage Inc - Board of Directors and Treasurer; and New Freedom Gardeners

Dennis Sarpen (R)

Age and address: 65, of McCurley Drive, New Freedom

Family:

Occupation: consulting civil and municipal engineer

Education: B.S & M.B.A.

Community organizations with which you are active: Southern York County Rotary Club, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church Parish Council, New Freedom Borough Planning Commission

Brady Terrell (R)

Age and address: 77

Family: Widowed, 4 daughters

Occupation: Retired


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Education:

Community organizations with which you are active: Borough Council, New Freedom Lions, Southern Regional Police Commission.

Questions and answers:

1. If you could make one change to improve the quality of life for residents in New Freedom, what change would you make? Explain your choice.

Andrews: No response.

Earll: No response.

Merrill: As I talk to people in town I am left with the impression that residents are generally satisfied with their quality of life. Many are long-time residents who could have moved elsewhere at some point in time but chose to remain. Others, like myself, are newcomers who chose this town and area over others because of the quality of life here. Since there are often unintended consequences to any action, I would be very careful and reserved about suggesting any changes. For example, the steam engine creates a visually appealing sight that could be counted as an increase in the quality of life. However, many residents and trail users not only see the steam engine, but also smell the diesel fumes and they count it as a decrease in the quality of life. Therefore, I would prefer to hear from the town residents what they would like their government to do to improve the quality of life rather than impose my choice.

Sarpen: I believe the Borough Council needs to maintain an awareness of issues that affect our residents' quality of life and strike a balance among residential, business and recreational needs as well as continuing to provide essential services to its residents and businesses. Included in these efforts is Council's attention to the cost of municipal government and the services it provides. Recent examples include refinancing to reduce the cost of improvements to our Community Center and water system and Subdivision, Land Development and Zoning Ordinance revisions to address resident and business concerns. Borough Council meetings are open for all residents to attend and provide an opportunity for our residents to ask questions and voice concerns about quality of life and other issues that affect them, their families and businesses.

Terrell: New Freedom already has a good quality of life for the residents. The goal would be to keep the high standard that has been set in the past 20 years, yet retain the "our town" pride and sense of community. We are fortunate to be close to major transportation routes, yet can still walk to the local ice cream shop in the summer months.

2. What will your other priorities be if elected as a borough council member? Explain why those are your priorities.

Andrews: No response.

Earll: No response.

Merrill: Although not a member of the council, I have been regularly attending council meetings for three years. Generally only a few residents attend the meetings. On those rare occasions when a crowd attends it is usually because people are reacting to a decision made by the borough council. If we can find a better way to involve and communicate with residents prior to the council making important decisions we could have a smoother running government. There are ways to enhance communications today that weren't available ten years ago. We should try these new options and see if they help with our communication problems.

Sarpen: I would like to see New Freedom continue to find ways to improve its communication with our residents especially as it applies to new State and Federal regulations and requirements. Many times such requirements impact our residents especially with regard to higher costs for additional improvements to water supply, storm water and wastewater treatment systems, liability insurance, fire, ambulance and police services as well as reductions in funding from various State and Federal agencies and cutbacks in grant programs to make required improvements. Improved communication with residents who moved to New Freedom from other states would also be beneficial since Pennsylvania's form of government is uniquely different from that of most other states. Continuing to improve the New Freedom Borough website such as with the recent addition of codified Borough ordinances should help answer many residents' questions. I would also like to see the Borough complete its multi-year improvement programs for water and sewer systems and streets.

Terrell: To retain what the community has become, a prosperous small town in rural PA. Maintain low real estate taxes, moderate growth and excellent services provided to our residents.

3. New Freedom has a tax rate of 1.14 mills. How would you rate the township's job of controlling costs and its tax rate? Why?

Andrews: No response.

Earll: No response.

Merrill: Over the last several years the borough budget has had some significant increases in costs and these have translated into significant increases in the mil-rate. One of the few ways that the borough can significantly raise the revenue needed is through the mil-rate. Other significant sources of income, such as income tax, realty transfer tax, and cable franchise fees, are significantly affected by the economy. Thus in a down economy more of the tax burden is shifted to the mil-rate. If you look at the borough budgets over the last several years you can see that many of the costs have been going up at rates of 5 percent to 10 percent per year. Fuels and electricity are examples. Personnel costs, either directly through the borough or indirectly through Southern Regional Police Department, have also gone up. Meanwhile, revenue from cable franchise fees and realty transfer taxes has fallen. Given this difficult balancing act, I think that the borough has done a reasonable job of managing its fiscal affairs.

Sarpen: New Freedom does have one of the lowest tax rates for boroughs in the area. The Borough regularly looks for ways to reduce costs without impacting the quality of the services it provides. State and Federal mandates and new regulations that are beyond the control of New Freedom can and do impact the Borough's costs. Providing the necessary repair and maintenance of its water, sewer and street systems also carries a cost. These are some of the most valuable assets the borough owns and must be maintained and modernized to provide dependable and reliable service for its residents and businesses. Failure to routinely do so will cause inconvenience for our residents and businesses and result in additional future costs through increases in materials and contracting services as well as additional repair and maintenance needed due to address degraded and deteriorated facilities.

Terrell: New Freedom historically has been one of the lowest municipal tax rates in York County. Yet has been able to provide services that are not available in other municipalities. The Borough works very diligently at controlling all costs in all areas of budget.

4. New Freedom relies on the Southern Regional Police Department for police protection. How would you rate the job that department is doing? Should the borough explore other policing options? Why or why not?

Andrews: No response.

Earll: No response.

Merrill: I think that the Southern Regional Police Department has been doing a good job. They have broken up illegal drug activities and cracked several other robbery cases both on their own and in cooperation with surrounding law enforcement agencies. A couple of years ago the borough considered withdrawing from SRPD with the stated goal of obtaining more value for our police service dollars. At the time the SRPD was undergoing changes in leadership and the borough decided to give the new SRPD leadership a chance to improve the police service. Under the new leadership I believe that our borough council is seeing better value in SRPD. There is a chance that additional surrounding communities will join SRPD in the coming years. This growth in SRPD may or may not slow the growth in police costs, time will tell. However, if SRPD grows I believe that there will be greater value in the police services as barriers to intelligence are removed.

Sarpen: Police service is an essential and important function to maintain the safety, security and wellbeing of all who live and work in New Freedom and is a large component of New Freedom's budget. Recent changes within the Southern Regional Police Department have greatly improved responsiveness and attention to the needs of our residents and businesses. Improvements in training and internal policies and procedures for the Regional Police have also advanced the quality of the police services provided. The Police Commission and Police Chief continue to look for opportunities to control the cost of police services. One recent example is our Police Commission's extensive discussions with Stewartstown Borough to include Stewartstown Borough as a member of our Regional Police. Sharing the costs to operate the police department with other municipalities should allow for a reduction in the rate of future increases to provide this essential service.

Terrell: The Borough residents receive quality service from SRPC. The Borough, as in any municipality should never become complacent with any service provided to their residents, and always strive for improvement. The inclusion of Stewartstown as a member will bring additional skills to the department, and reduce overall costs.

5. Why did you decide to run for township supervisor? Why should people support your candidacy for township supervisor?

Andrews: No response.

Earll: No response.

Merrill: I decided to run for New Freedom Borough Council because I believe that I can serve my community well in that role. The skills I learned as a defense analyst can be used on the council to help illuminate and understand problems, develop solution sets, and select best value options.

Sarpen: I have been a resident of New Freedom Borough since 1978 and my occupation places me in direct contact with many of the issues faced by municipalities in Pennsylvania. I am running for Borough Council again because I believe my past Council and extensive work experience provide a unique combination to best serve the needs of our community.

Terrell: I began on Council in 1994 when road salt was purchased in bags, and few services existed. During my terms the Borough has built a Municipal/Police facility, purchased the "Freedom Green" property, renovated the Community Building into one of the largest Community Center/EMA Shelters in the County. All, and more done with low real estate taxes, and still retaining the "My Hometown" philosophy.