Judith Higgins, former state senate candidate, joins race for York County commissioner
Judith Higgins, candidate for the PA Senate District 28, talks with voters during a meet and greet event at Seven Sports Bar and Grille in New Freedom Tuesday, July 17, 2018. The Democrat is facing Republican Kristin Phillips-Hill in the November midterm election. York Dispatch
Judith Higgins, a former Democratic candidate for state senate, is running for the York County Board of Commissioners.
Higgins held two events Tuesday, Feb. 19, to meet with voters and collect signatures for her petition to be listed on the ballot for the May 21 primary.
After speaking with voters across the county in her previous campaign, Higgins said two of the issues that came up most often were property taxes and the need for good jobs.
Workforce development is an important part of bringing jobs into the county, Higgins said. She's served on the York County Economic Alliance Workforce Development Committee and the Salem Square Technology Center committee.
Higgins said it's important for community organizations to coordinate and learn which skill sets will be most valuable to potential employers who might bring their business into the community, and then to offer training and skills development to community members.
"That conversation is really important that we have with employers, to know that we are giving people the training that will get them good jobs," Higgins said.
Another hot topic for voters is the proposed countywide stormwater authority.
The York County Planning Commission has been developing a proposal for a stormwater authority in an effort to meet state and federal water quality mandates as part of the Chesapeake Bay Pollutant Reduction Plan.
Under the planning commission's proposal, the authority would collect a base fee of $48.90 per year per tax parcel from all county property owners, with additional fees for agricultural and commercial land.
There would also be credit programs available to ease the extra fee requirements on farmers and business owners.
During her last campaign, Higgins attended a public meeting in Red Lion about the stormwater proposal, and she said many of the farmers at the meeting did not support creating an authority.
The farmers felt they were already making an effort to manage stormwater pollution, Higgins said, and they didn't feel another layer of government bureaucracy would help.
"I need to hear both sides of the story and hear about some possible other (stormwater) solutions," she said, "because we want to do what’s best for the people, and that includes doing things that are appropriate for the environment."
Another priority for Higgins would be to restore funding for York County Libraries.
The county reduced library funding by about $300,000 in 2018 and restored about $100,000 of that for the 2019 budget.
Higgins said literacy improves the community, and that there's a better chance of attracting new businesses with an educated population.
"I think If we don’t have kids who feel that libraries are valuable and reading is valuable, we’re losing a lot," she said.
Higgins lives in Lower Windsor Township with her husband. She is on leave from her job as an adjunct professor at Penn State York to campaign for York County commissioner, and she also owns a small business making pewter jewelry.
She is the ninth candidate to enter the race for York County commissioner, including incumbents Chris Reilly and Doug Hoke. President Commissioner Susan Byrnes is not seeking re-election.
The primary election is Tuesday, May 21.