Q&A with York County Commissioner candidates: Doug Hoke
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.
Doug Hoke: Democrat
Occupation: York County Commissioner
Education: West York Area High School, bachelor's degree in history and political science from Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri
Community involvement: South Central Pennsylvania Workforce Investment Board, York County Convention and Visitor Bureau, Susquehanna Gateway Heritage Area, St. Stephens UCC, Better York Board, York Counts Board, York College Center for Community Engagement Advisory Board
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: The most pressing issue facing York County is improving the 911 Center. I voted against the current consulting contract, because of the outrageous cost to the county — three quarters of a million dollars. I believe that we could solve the issues of the 911 Center by working with the current managers and first-responders, and using the expertise of various community members to come to a reasonable resolution.
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: As a commissioner, it is critical that I minimize wasteful spending and encourage smart and efficient budget practices. I have a background in public finance and over 25 years experience as a small business owner, so I am well-versed in fiscal responsibility. I believe that my commitment to this is shown throughout my tenure as commissioner, and it is my intention for it to continue.
I would prioritize spending on our public services to seniors, veterans, children, youth, and families as well as our legal system. Cost savings could be found by better utilizing technology in our various departments. I would also like to be more aggressive in trying to save money by obtaining more state and federal grants for our county.
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: I am totally against the privatization of the York 911 Center, and I disagree that there have been major issues at the facility for the past 25 years. That being said, I think that it is important for the board to take a more active role with our various departments through better communication with our department heads and employees to make sure that we can address issues when they occur to ensure that our county government is functioning smoothly.
Question: Do you support continuing the county’s contract with ICE to house detainees at the York County Prison?
Answer: Yes. The county has contracted with ICE for over 20 years. Over that period, the detainees have been treated humanely by our professional and highly trained staff of management and correctional officers. The contracts have helped offset the operational costs of the prison and have provided many jobs. The humane treatment of detainees is a priority goal of the County of York.
Question: Why would you be a better county commissioner than the other three candidates?
Answer: I am the only incumbent running for this office, and I can bring helpful knowledge and experience about our county government to the new board. I also hope that my record in office has demonstrated my commitment to good governance in York County and speaks for itself.