Q&A with candidates for York County Board of Commissioners


Three Republicans and an equal number of Democrats are running for three seats on the York County Board of Commissioners in the 2015 election.

On the Republican ballot, incumbent Chris Reilly will face challengers Susan Byrnes, a health activist, and Kelly Henshaw, a Red Lion councilman.

On the Democratic side, incumbent Doug Hoke will face challengers Henry Nixon, a York City councilman, and Duane Hull, a former Dover Township supervisor.

The top two vote-getters in the May 19 primary from each party will advance to the general election in November.

Sitting President Commissioner Steve Chronister has said he plans to run as an Independent in November after he withdrew from the Republican ballot when his nomination petition was challenged.

As part of its election coverage, The York Dispatch asked each candidate in the primary a series of questions on issues the county faces.

Question: As part of its 2015 budget, the county allocated $6.56 million for special allocations, given to quasi-governmental organizations and nonprofits. Should the county continue to make such contributions? Should funding be increased or decreased?


•Susan Byrnes: Not-for-profits play a vital role in York County. Community members, businesses and foundations have a long history of generosity supporting their missions and good work.

I believe county government should have a very small role in the financial sustainability of organizations not under their care, custody and control.

Serving as your York County Commissioner, I would look to create a very tight set of criteria for any not-for-profit organizations soliciting county funds.

•Kelly Henshaw: I believe that we should be looking at every line-item of the budget to ensure that it is necessary and appropriate to serve the residents of York County. There are likely parts of that $6.56 million allocation that could be cut. However, much of this money is going to quasi-governmental organizations that promote economic development in York County, train our first-responders, and work to prevent child abuse – just to name a few. While we should absolutely be taking a hard look at every dollar being spent, we cannot discount the fact that many of the organizations receiving these funds are providing important services to our residents.

•Chris Reilly: Historically these appropriations reflect the fiscal health of county government. In tight budget years special allocations are reduced. I feel our special allocations are reasonable at the present time and benefit many worthy programs and causes, particularly in the area of public safety.


•Doug Hoke: During my years in office the special allocation funding in our county budget has remained relatively level. However, each year the commissioners receive numerous new and additional special allocation funding requests. I try to properly evaluate each request, weighing the costs to taxpayers with the benefits to the community. I believe the county should continue to fund these quasi-governmental and non-profit organizations as long as the advantages to the residents of York County are clearly demonstrated.

•Duane Hull: I don't know the details of this budget item. Therefore I can't answer the question. When I am elected county commissioner, I will look into this issue with open mind and see what can be done.

•Henry Nixon: As I learned in the business world, audits serve the vital purpose of determining the efficacy of certain initiatives and making sure that no money is wasted — and an audit would have similar benefits here. It would answer the most important questions about these allocations: How have they made York County a better place for all of its citizens? Have these investments improved the landscape for economic development? Should a portion be used for municipal development, blight reduction, and facilitating intermunicipal collaborations? How are the results of these funds measured? Is there a means for accountability? In essence, are these tax dollars improving the county for the future?

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.