Three candidates are seeking two positions on the Springettsbury Township board of supervisors in the Nov. 5 election.
Mark Swomley and Kathleen Phan won a four-way primary on the Republican ballot in the spring, defeating John Bumsted and Robert Yanover.
Swomley and Phan will be joined on the general election ballot by Larry Crumling, the only Democrat to run in the primary.
The supervisors currently holding the positions -- Don Bishop and Mike Bowman -- opted not to seek re-election.
Larry A. Crumling (D)
Age and address: 66, of Lorenzo Court
Family: Two sons, Todd and Matt
Occupation: Retired from Local 23 Insulators & Allied Trades, Harrisburg, after 40 years of service
Education: Eastern-York High School Graduate, 2 years at York College
Community organizations with which you are active: President, Boulevard Commons Condominium Association
Kathleen Phan (R/D)
Age and address: Family: Married with four children
Occupation: Senior-Business System analyst in the Patient/Finance department with WellSpan Health
Education: Attended Eastern York High School and York County School of Technology majored in computer programming.
Community organizations with which you are active: lifetime ladies auxiliary member of VFW Post 7045. Served as secretary for the ladies auxiliary for five years. Sunday school teacher, worship committee and member of Yorkshire United Methodist Church. Holds a one-year seat on the board of trustees for 2013.
Mark Swomley (R)
Age/address: 56, of 3366 Barwood Road
Family: Wife, Maria; Children: Christina 27, Adam 25, Jonathan 21, Luke 20
Occupation: Sr. Project Manager, The Hershey Company
Education: BSME, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Coursework toward MSME, University of Rochester
Community organizations with which you are active: Springettsbury Township Planning Commission; Assistant Scoutmaster, Boy Scout Troop 17; Lector, St. Joseph's Church; Board member, Christopher Columbus Scholarship Fund; Sons of Italy; Knights of Columbus; York Republican Club
Questions and answers:
1. If you could make one change to improve the quality of life for residents in Springettsbury Township, what change would you make? Explain your choice.
Crumling: In order to improve the quality of life for the residents of Springettsbury Township we must improve the quality of government. The Board of Supervisors must respect those who elected them. Residents of, and businesses within the Township, should be treated with respect and civility whenever there is an issue requiring government action. The Township Manager should be helpful to any resident requiring assistance of any type. The Board of Supervisors need to be prudent in the manner in which they spend taxpayer dollars and open, transparent, and ethical in any business practices concerning the residents. When the residents put their trust in an elected official, no matter what the position, it is a great responsibility and I am ready to accept that trust and responsibility and to never forget the residents of Springettsbury Township who elected me.
Phan: We need to offer support, services and opportunities to the residents to ensure their success in living in the township. We should continue to offer events in our township or catalyzed by an opportunity provided through a foundation or government supported initiative. We need to support our small businesses as stakeholders and co-investors. We need to trend what we learn over the years and reformulate our strategies. Most importantly, hold each other accountable for the performance and impact of our township.
Swomley: The biggest issue that I hear as I talk to residents in Springettsbury Township is related to traffic congestion. The township has engaged in comprehensive planning for growth in the community and has largely done a very good job, but traffic planning is limited to two paragraphs in the plan. I will propose that we engage in more proactive traffic planning and involve the county and PennDOT to help identify solutions that will grow with our community over time. We also need to focus on finding state and federal grant money to supplement the funds that are paid by the township and commercial enterprises that develop and re-develop properties in the township. With the proper focus on our traffic issues, we will be able to improve the safety and quality of life for all of the residents of Springettsbury Township.
2. What will your other priorities be if elected as a township supervisor? Explain why those are your priorities.
Crumling: My other priorities, if elected, is to bring a common sense approach to the Township Government by adopting a practical sense of individual issues and problems. To bring meaningful dialogue with other elected officials and residents and to find a solution together. It is also extremely important to be prudent on spending issues in this very tricky economy. Township officials need to provide the services that are necessary to the residents, but need to use practical thinking in doing so. Planning and zoning officials need to be looking into the future to aid an aging infrastructure that has been bypassed by population growth and the extreme number of vehicles on the road. One only has to take a drive down one of the Township's major arteries to realize this. Springettsbury Township has enormous potential and if managed properly can attain that potential. It is only a matter of using practical thinking and common sense.
Phan: Being financially responsible with tax dollars. Listening to what is presented and make the best decisions that will benefit the township and residents. Treat residents with respect and be fair. The board is making decisions on behalf of the residents and it is important that the board hears the residents' comments and concerns. The Board needs to make sure all guidelines and rules are followed by everyone. We all need to be held accountable.
Swomley: I believe that the board of supervisors has a tremendous responsibility to the community it serves. My vision is to help keep Springettsbury Township a premier community in South Central Pennsylvania. To achieve that goal, we must portect our tax base through appropriate budget controls and by promoting business opportunities through appropriate development and re-development. Plan our business, residential, and our traffic growth. And perform our township services and duties with professionalism and respect for all of our constituents. The board must perform its managerial and fiduciary responsibilities for the community and set the tone for our other governmental functions.
3. Springettsbury Township has a tax rate of 0.87 mills. How would you rate the township's job of controlling costs and its tax rate? Why?
Crumling: I have never met a taxpayer that thought that tax rates were not too high. Springettsbury Township has, in my opinion, been on a spending spree, which certainly doesn't bring down taxes. At a meeting of the Board of Supervisors in February of this year, that I attended, they voted favorably to put out for bids in March, the new fire house, quoted by the engineer at $4.4 million dollars and then approved a motion to spend almost $500,000 on vehicles and equipment for various departments. The second motion passed without even a discussion. This is not what I would call prudent spending practices and will not lower taxes. Critical services need to be provided, but not at such exorbitant costs.
Phan: Taxes are always a great question to ask a candidate. The candidate can answer with promises to do this and that, but what it boils down to is the economy and how well we are doing as a township with our spending. Do we need napkins at our township building with "Springettsbury Township" written on them? I don't think so. Do we need a glossy colored newsletter that cost us thousands of dollars each year? I don't think so. Are we assessing and REASSESSING homes and business property values and with up-to-date values? We are told that taxes would be used for one thing and then find out something different. We need to review budgets carefully and efficiently. We, as a township, also have to stay focused on the Affordable Care Act and how this will also affect our township municipalities and also our residents as they may have to pay high health insurance premiums and high deductibles. ACA is too complicated to know what will happen at the moment. But the Board of Supervisors has an obligation to be abreast on all the issues listed above and be transparent to our residents.
Swomley: In many respects, Springettsbury has done a very good job of controlling costs and the tax rate has not gone up in 9 years. As a senior project manager for The Hershey Company, I also understand that it is not sufficient to just say no to expenditures to control cost, there are two other components that contribute to the equation. Continuous improvement is a method that businesses use to make processes, products and services better at a lower cost. By providing more and/or better services for the same or lower cost, we control our tax rates while improving our services to the community. Finally, we must protect and improve our current tax base which consists of the businesses (commercial and industrial) that pay a large share of the local tax burden. By remaining business friendly and retaining our status as a great place to shop, dine, work and live, we protect our tax base.
4. Springettsbury Township relies on its own police department for police protection. How would you rate the service being provided by that department? Should the township explore a regional policing option or a merger with neighboring departments? Why or why not?
Crumling: It is my opinion that Springettsbury Township's Police force is adequate to protect the residents of the Township. I am sure there are those who would disagree. While regional departments seem to be the current trend, I think that despite some bad publicity of late, our police department does a great job on its own. Mergers can go either way dependent on how they are structured and financed. I have heard that financially speaking, our merged fire department is costing Springettsbury Township about 20 percent more than the other entity that is involved. So mergers are not always a better deal for the taxpayer.
Phan: So there is a cost-saving benefit to regionalization? Not sure either way yet. Our municipal budgets all over the state are always shaky. The old statement of "do more with less" is always stated. The question I would have is how does the local enforcement agency continue to provide the safety they currently provide and continue to keep in mind their officers and the budget? So does regionalization save money but still provide these services? I have spoken to many individuals about this with my door to door. It seems that regionalization will work for our EMS, but they are worried about this with our police force. There are mixed feelings also. How does this affect the budget if Springettsbury Township doesn't have as many calls as another township, are we expected to pay a percent of the budget regardless? However an advantage would be spreading out the cost savings over several townships. I think this could way in favor or not in favor. What about law enforcement complaints? If this is considered, I think a very descriptive contract will need to be presented and followed. I encourage all residents and the township associates, to educate yourself on this topic. The more we know, the better we can make decisions that benefit our municipalities and the residents.
Swomley: Our Springettsbury Police Department is held in high regard throughout the county and state, being staffed with very competent law enforcement professionals. It should be noted that Springettsbury already shares services with and contributes resources to the surrounding communities through specialized teams such as: Forensic Team, Quick Response Team (regional SWAT) and the County Drug Task Force. Many smaller communities have combined forces in regional or merged policing options because of budgetary constraints during these tough economic times and there is a broader feeling that law enforcement is moving in that direction. There is not a pressing need at the current time in Springettsbury but it is necessary that the board of supervisors explore options that will provide better services to our community at reasonable costs. One possible action would be to take on the support of other local communities for a fee while retaining control of the police force in Springettsbury.
5. Why did you decide to run for township supervisor? Why should people support your candidacy for township supervisor?
Crumling: I decided to run for the Township Supervisor position after attending a number of Board of Supervisors meetings and seeing how things were run. Citizens were only given one opportunity to speak at the very beginning of the meeting. Numerous times residents would ask a question of the Board and not get an answer. They were never told that we don't know the answer But give us your contact information and we will get you the answer. After dealing with the Board with a request for my condominium association that took seven months to resolve, I felt compelled to get involved. I am a Democrat and am running with Kathleen Phan, a Republican, as a team. We are running together to show that bi-partisanship will work. We have the same agenda, one of honesty, transparency, prudent spending of taxpayer dollars, and a more responsive attitude towards citizens and businesses. We are running as civil servants, not to achieve authority, but to serve the residents and business needs within the Township. So if you want a more responsive and flexible government in Springettsbury Township, votePhan & Crumling on November 5th.
Phan: Did not respond.
Swomley: My decision to run for township supervisor was driven by a number of factors. As a longtime resident of the township and member of many community organizations including Boy Scouts and the Christopher Columbus Scholarship Fund, I have a strong interest in ensuring that we are governed in a professional and proactive manner to leave a strong legacy for upcoming generations. As a longtime member of the planning commission, I have a very strong understanding of the strengths and needs of our community as well as many of the services that the township provides. As a senior project manager with The Hershey Company, I have a proven track record of leadership on large, complex projects that require budgeting, management, interpersonal and technical skills. I have articulated a vision for the future of Springettsbury Township and believe that I am the most qualified candidate to represent the constituents of this community.