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All five York County commissioners candidates vying for three open seats will take part in a York Dispatch-hosted debate later this month.

Informing the public is the No. 1 job of a newspaper, said Allison Roth-Cooper, editor of The York Dispatch, and this is another way to get information directly to county residents.

"We think an informed electorate is more likely to participate in the voting process, so it's with great pleasure that we co-sponsor the county commissioners candidate debate. As part of our voter participation outreach initiative, The York Dispatch is aiming to encourage eligible voters to join us, get informed and then make their ballots count on Election Day," Roth-Cooper said.

The debate, which is being co-hosted by the York County Economic Alliance, will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13, at the York Jewish Community Center, 2000 Hollywood Drive in Spring Garden Township. Doors open at 6:45 p.m.

The candidates: The five candidates who will appear on the ballot, and at the debate, are Democrats Doug Hoke, an incumbent, and Henry Nixon, a York City councilman; Republicans Chris Reilly, an incumbent, and Susan Byrnes, a health activist, and independent incumbent Steve Chronister.

Chronister, a longtime Republican, planned to appear on the GOP ballot in the May primary but withdrew when his nomination petition was challenged. He re-entered the race in August when he filed to run as an independent.

This is likely the first time voters will get to choose from five county commissioner candidates in the municipal election.

"It certainly creates an interesting dynamic and precludes itself to different outcomes," said Alex Shorb, head of the York County GOP.

The race: Since the primary, the candidates have been out meeting with the electorate in hopes of garnering their support.

"We've got two outstanding candidates who give us, I believe, the ability to pick up two seats," said Democratic activist Bob Kefauver, who is also the former head of the Democratic Party in the county.

The last time two Democrats served on the board of commissioners at one time was in the early 1990s.

Even though the upcoming election hasn't yet happened, some voters have already set their sights on the 2016 presidential election, which is more than a year away.

"Unfortunately, people are getting ahead of themselves with the presidential election," Shorb said. "But we're not getting ahead of ourselves at the local (Republican committee)."

Presidential hopefuls have been announcing their candidacy earlier and earlier each election cycle, often overshadowing local candidates in the municipal elections, Kefauver noted.

"The people who are on this municipal election ballot are literally our neighbors," he said, adding they are people who decide how local tax dollars are spent, when roads are fixed and which books are taught in schools.

The municipal election is Tuesday, Nov. 3.

When the elected commissioners take office next year, the president commissioner will make $89,730 annually, and the other two commissioners will be paid $86,525 each.

The debate: The debate among York County commissioner candidates will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13 at the York Jewish Community Center, 2000 Hollywood Drive in Spring Garden Township. Doors open at 6:45 p.m.

It is sponsored by The York Dispatch and the York County Economic Alliance.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.

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