York College hosts Sears, Hill-Evans for forum
- Democrat Carol Hill-Evans and Republican Joel Sears debated at York College on Wednesday night.
- Sears wants elimination of school property taxes, while Hill-Evans advises incremental reform.
- Candidates are vying for an open House seat in the 95th District. Election Day is Tuesday.
Less than a week away from Election Day, Democrat Carol Hill-Evans and Republican Joel Sears made their final pleas to some of the 95th District's youngest potential voters Wednesday night.
The two candidates spoke on topics including policing, partisanship and pension reform in front of students and community members during a forum at York College, co-sponsored by the History and Political Science Student Union and York NAACP.
Similar to their debate, held Oct. 7 at the Yorktowne Hotel, the most noticeable difference between their platforms was in regard to school property taxes.
Sears, a former school board member for York Suburban School District, said the elimination of the school property tax is his No. 1 issue. He gave examples to the crowd of how the tax "hammers property values," particularly in York City, and said its elimination would make the state more business friendly.
The Spring Garden Township small-business owner has proposed replacing the school funding with an increase in sales and income tax. Bills have been introduced in the General Assembly to this effect for many years, but none have garnered enough support to pass.
Hill-Evans, current York City Council president, said she would support some sort of reform of school property taxes as opposed to elimination. She told attendees that incremental reform was the more responsible method because it would avoid harming schools too drastically.
Reaction: Mikal Jenkins, a sophomore political science major at the college, said the debate was the first time he'd been exposed to either candidate outside of campaign signs he sees walking to class.
"I wanted this to be my first impression of both of them," he said.
Jenkins, a registered Democrat, said he was impressed by both candidates' passion for public service, but he was leaning toward voting for Hill-Evans because he felt her stance on school property taxes was "more rational."
Police: The relationship between police and residents was another topic that was discussed throughout the debate.
Both candidates expressed support for a larger emphasis on community policing, and Sears praised York City Police Department for recently reopening its community policing station at the corner of West Princess and South West streets.
Sears also recounted a negative example of policing in West York, where he saw police treat a person pulled over for going the wrong way down a one-way street "like a train robber."
"It was appalling," he said, adding that the vast majority of police locally and nationally do a great job.
The candidates were asked where they stood in relation to recent police-related bills proposed at the state level. One bill would make it difficult for the public to obtain body-cam footage, and the other would delay the release of names of officers involved in shootings.
Hill-Evans said she believes body-cam footage and officers' names should be available to the public, while Sears said the release of such information would need to be done carefully to prevent any misinterpretations.
The 95th District includes York City and parts of Spring Garden Township, West York and West Manchester Township.
Election Day is Tuesday. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.