York County commissioner candidates answer questions at Crispus Attucks
With just one week left until elections, the county commissioners candidates spoke at a candidate's forum at Crispus Attucks Tuesday night to try and persuade voters to give them their vote.
Incumbent Doug Hoke and challengers Susan Byrnes and Henry Nixon took part in the forum, which was hosted by the York chapter of the NAACP, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority-York Alumnae Chapter and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
Incumbent Christopher Reilly had to help his son with a car problem at the last minute and left before the forum started. Incumbent Steve Chronister did not receive as much notice as the other candidates for the event and as a result was not able to make it, said Sandra Thompson, president of York NAACP and moderator of the event.
Hoke, Byrnes and Nixon all spoke on various issues; here is a brief look at some of what they had to say:
Hoke: Hoke, a Democrat, has been a county commissioner since 2008. When asked about allocating resources and finding ways to manage government costs, Hoke cited his business background as an example of why he is capable of managing costs for county government.
Hoke said that in his position, whenever he felt something he saw was "questionable," he would confer with County Solicitor Mike Flannelly to make sure it was not. He also added that in his almost eight years of service, he has never missed a day of work.
When asked about regionalization, or consolidating government agencies or departments in the county, he said that in certain areas, such as education, that's a difficult discussion.
"It's tough to talk about because people living in the different districts have the right to make their own decisions," he said.
Hoke said he is in favor of citizen review boards for areas of government and policing.
"I think the more you have citizens involved in different areas of government, it's better for everything," he said, adding that he's not sure as commissioner what he would be able to do in that regard.
"My goal for the next four years it to create a financially strong, prosperous and safe community," Hoke said in his closing statement.
Nixon: Nixon,a Democrat, is a York City councilman. Nixon proposed the idea of auditing departments to see where money can be used elsewhere.
"You start with doing an audit of each of the departments and see if they are run efficiently," he said, adding that Hoke's business background is "invaluable."
Nixon said to ensure and monitor use of time in the position, he will make his schedule available.
"You'll be able to see where I go, where I am, who I am seeing," he said.
"If I see something that is questionable, I won't keep my mouth shut," he said.
Nixon said that he favors regionalization, saying that commissioners need to lead and facilitate the conversation.
"There is savings in doing that kind of thing, we can save police forces, we can save firefighters and fire departments," he said.
Nixon said he approves of citizen review boards for different areas of government.
"Yes, absolutely, to be transparent we need to have accountability from citizens on all aspects," he said. "The only way we can do that is by knowing what you would like us to do."
"Maintaining the status quo is unacceptable if we are to be a healthy and economically viable county," he said in his closing statement.
Byrnes: Byrnes, a Republican, is a longtime nurse who founded the Susan P. Byrnes Health Education Center. Byrnes said she wishes to get to know the people in the departments to see what is and isn't working for them.
"I want to get to know the 2,700 employees of York County. I want to tell them 'I have your back,'" she said.
When asked how she would ensure better use of time in the position, she said she would also make her schedule available.
"I'm going to make my schedule transparent," she said. She said people will know where she is and what she is doing at any time.
She said she will keep her expenditures to a minimum, citing her experience with nonprofits as experience in doing that.
Byrnes said she is in favor of regionalization, but that certain areas, such as firefighters, they are losing their identity and their culture, which are important for them to keep.
When asked about citizen review boards, she said she was not sure what she would be able to do as commissioner but she was in favor of any kind of involvement from parents and families.
"Your color, your nationality, your size, that doesn't matter to me. I will serve you to the best of the ability," she said in her closing statement.
Vote: York County's registered voters will be able to vote for two commissioner candidates during the general election Tuesday. The three with the most votes will win the three seats.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at email@example.com