Political newcomer challenging longtime board chairman

David Weissman

During Tuesday's primary election, East Manchester Township residents will see more than one candidate on the ballot for township supervisor for the first time in at least 12 years.

Larry Anderson Jr., a political newcomer and plant manager at a local concrete company, is facing off against Steven H. Gross Jr., who has served on the township's Board of Supervisors since at least 2001, according to The York Dispatch archives. Gross has been the board chairman since at least 2004. Both men are running on the  Republican ballot.


Township supervisors are elected to six-year terms, and Gross ran unopposed during the primary and general elections in 2005 and 2011, according to York County election records. He won with 353 votes in 2011.

His two colleagues on the board, Dave Naylor (term ending in 2019) and Barry Rudisill (term ending in 2021), also ran unopposed in their past two elections.

Anderson, who has worked for 30 years at Monarch Products Co., said he feels like it's time for a change.

"(Gross has) been in there too long; he thinks he owns that township," Anderson said, adding that he was previously Gross' classmate at Northeastern High School.

Gross, a farmer whose family owns multiple properties throughout the township, did not return multiple voicemail messages left on his home phone answering machine.

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Anderson said he had not considered running for any office before this, but he decided that it was time to do something instead of just complaining about everything. He was previously registered as a Democrat before the most recent presidential election, when he switched to Republican to vote for Donald Trump, he said.

"It seems to me like (the supervisors) do stuff to benefit themselves more than the community," Anderson said. "I'd like to just listen and work for the people."

Rezoning: A 2016 York Dispatch investigation found that Gross and his family had made $12 million selling farmland — now occupied by a Starbucks distribution center — to a developer in 2014.

Th 97-acre property, located near a Starbucks roasting plant, was among a swath of land rezoned from agricultural to industrial in 2006 against the advice of the York County Planning Commission.

Records with the York County Assessment and Tax Claim Office show that the property was assessed at a value of $307,670 under its agricultural use zoning prior to the sale.

The township supervisors — the same three who currently serve on the board — approved the rezoning, but minutes from meetings during that time show Gross recused himself from the vote.

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Anderson said the findings of The York Dispatch investigation did not prompt his decision to run for township supervisor, but he has spoken with numerous residents who are not happy with Gross for the way he sold prime farm land.

Anderson frequently works at his father-in-law's orchard farm, so he understands "a farmer's got to do what a farmer's got to do," he said.

If he doesn't win, Anderson said he will run for office again in the future, using this race to learn about the political process.

"It's all completely new to me," he said.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.