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Four candidates — two Democrats, two Republicans — are vying for three open seats on the York County Board of Commissioners in the November election.

Republican candidates are Julie Wheeler and Ron Smith. Democrats are incumbent Doug Hoke and Judith Higgins.

The municipal election is Tuesday, Nov. 5.

As part of The York Dispatch's ongoing election coverage, we posed five questions to the candidates and asked them to answer each in no more than 300 words.

Ron Smith: Republican

Age: 56

Family: Laura, Emily and Collin

Occupation: Small business owner

Education: Graduate of York County School of Technology

Community Experience: Twenty-one years in municipal government as an elected official of Dallastown Borough, nine years service and current York Area Regional Police Commissioner, past emergency medical services and fire service volunteer, two years on the York County Crime Stoppers Board of Directors, small business owner.

Question: What is the most pressing issue in York County government and how would you address it if you’re elected to the board of commissioners? 

Answer: We must improve the operations of our Department of Children, Youth and Families. Our children and families are our county’s bedrock foundation and most important resource in building a sustainable future. Working as a team with my fellow county commissioners, we must work to reduce turnover and increase retention of experienced personnel. 

Question: After two consecutive years of tax increases, the county commissioners then held the line in 2018 and 2019. How would you approach the budgeting process: Are tax increases on the table, how would you prioritize spending needs and where would you look for cuts if needed?

Answer: We must bring fiscal responsibility and discipline to county government to protect the wallets of our hard-working York County families. In other words, we can’t spend what we don’t have. As a county, we must avoid incurring debt and prioritize essential needs over wants. For my part, I pledge not to accept the taxpayer-funded pension plan. 

We must also expand our tax base. This means building an economy that works for all York County residents. To do so, we must engage with our private-sector employers and our not-for-profit organizations to leverage their superb expertise and resources effectively and efficiently to ensure we have a capable workforce. Manufacturing has long played a vital role in York County’s economy and we must continue to build on that investment. It is also essential we look to the future and embrace emerging technologies to ensure we have a well-educated and well-trained workforce to meet the demands of the 21st century

Question: While considering privatizing management of the 911 Center this year, a current board member suggested problems at the facility have been brewing for 25 years. What is the board’s responsibility for providing oversight of the county’s departments to ensure problems are dealt with immediately and not allowed to fester? What changes would you make to provide better oversight?

Answer: We cannot afford to have our 911 Center understaffed any longer and continue to hemorrhage experienced personnel. The current state of our Emergency Operations Center puts our first-responders and the people they are here to serve at dire risk.

We must take a fresh approach when implementing the recommendations from the recently released audit report. The county should establish an advisory committee composed of members of our emergency services community to provide suggested solutions to the difficulties they encounter with 911. By establishing the committee, we will also forge a culture of teamwork with our first-responders that values and respects their engagement. Going forward it will also ensure an ongoing stream of communication is flowing to and from our emergency services community. This approach will build energy and momentum needed to accomplish the changes outlined in the audit report

Question: Do you support continuing the county’s contract with ICE to house detainees at the York County Prison?

Answer: Yes. Recently I toured the ICE facility and saw first-hand how well the detainees are treated while waiting to have their cases heard before a judge. Clothed, fed and in temperature-controlled living quarters with an in-house medical treatment facility available, detainees are in a safe and secure environment. This facility follows established federal policy in protecting both our citizens and detainees while also providing income to our county. 

Question: Why would you be a better county commissioner than the other three candidates?

Answer: I am running for commissioner because I believe the people of York County deserve transparent and effective county government. I will bring my years of experience as a small business owner and locally elected municipal official to the office of county commissioner.

I have served honorably on Dallastown Borough Council for 21 years; 11 years as council president. During my tenure on borough council, I have instituted sound fiscal policies and common-sense reforms that have greatly benefited our taxpayers and their wallets. I believe it is our responsibility as elected officials to continually look for opportunities to reduce spending while maintaining essential services.

In addition to being on borough council, I have served on the board of the commissioners of the York Area Regional Police Department for nine years and previously served two years as a member of the board of directors of York County Crime Stoppers.  

Regardless of whether we agree or disagree on issues, my commitment will always remain the same: to treat each resident of York County as I would like to be treated; with respect, kindness, honesty, and fairness. You deserve that in your elected officials.

More: Ron Smith, Dallastown Borough Council president, is running for York County commissioner

More: Q&A with York County Commissioner candidates: Julie Wheeler

More: Q&A with York County Commissioner candidates: Judith Higgins

More: Q&A with York County Commissioner candidates: Doug Hoke

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