Chronister op-ed: Don't let Republican insiders tell you who to support
As a businessman, politician and interactive member of the community, I have placed myself in positions where I have had to make impactful decisions. Sometimes those decisions were met with a positive response, and sometimes they were met with a challenge. I accept that I cannot make everyone happy all the time.
Over the years I have been accused of a lot of things. Throughout my extensive career I have learned that no matter what people say about me, they cannot define me. I’m defined by my heart to see York County thrive. I’m defined by my desire to see our children receive every opportunity to grow into successful members of our community. I’m defined by my fight for the private rights of residents that have sought my guidance on issues impacting their daily lives.
Recently, the York County Republican Committee published an op-ed in our local newspaper and their sister group sent out a targeted mailer filled with negative accusations against me. Among the statements, this group spun the fact that I voted for a 14% property tax hike in 2015 as a negative — failing to acknowledge that all commissioners voted for the increase. We all believed it would be in the best interest of the county. None of us benefited from the tax hike; the decision was made due to the immense need in our community. However, the recent smear campaign made it look like this was a bad decision made solely by me.
I find it troubling that our local Republican committee, an organization originally created by Republicans who aimed to promote our ideals, would use a primary county election to divide our party.
Attacking me as a candidate is one thing but having the establishment Republicans endorse one party candidate against another is not the democratic process our founders envisioned. Unfortunately, their hand-picked candidates are either members of their executive committee or are heavy contributors to the party. Sadly, they have completely ignored the new, yet qualified candidates who have a heart to make a difference in York County.
I feel it’s important for me to disclose that Tally Fisher-Leeper, candidate for Register of Wills, is my niece. Though I feel that she is a strong candidate, I also believe Bryan Tate, the candidate endorsed by the party, is also qualified for the position. My point is that I believe all candidates should have fair and equal support within the party. These newcomers to politics are qualified candidates and should be considered by the Republican voters of York County. They all stepped into this race with a hope of making a difference.
Now, let us look at my accusers. One of the accusations against me is that I am a career politician. The chairman of York’s Republican Party, who is directing the campaign for the Republican insiders, is truly a career politician. He spent 36 years as a member of the state House of Representatives and state Senate. He was forced to retire in 2012 when he faced allegations of violating the code of conduct for lawyers and engaging in conflicts of interest in his private, full-time law practice. State taxpayers funded his career for 36 years and a $210,000 lump sum payment, and we now fund his $83,000 annual pension. Throughout his career, the chairman has only serviced his own pocketbook.
It’s hard to believe the few insiders who infiltrated the York County Republican Committee would hire this man to push his values on York County residents.
As I previously mentioned, another accusation against me was that I raised taxes before I left office in 2015. It’s important to note that my former colleague and endorsed Party candidate, Chris Reilly, also voted to raise taxes by 14.2% in 2015. In 2016, after I left office, he voted to raise them another 12.4%. In addition, after eight years as a county commissioner he voted with two other outgoing county politicians to spike their pension benefits, costing taxpayers more than $2 million per year — which continues to this day. If elected to another term, Mr. Reilly, the party’s endorsed candidate for commissioner, will serve a total of 24 years in office. Another true career politician.
As far as my failures in business, I feel I associate best with this quote from Winston Churchill. “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
York County residents, I appeal to you to do your research. Don’t let anyone tell you who to vote for; instead determine who aligns with your values and beliefs and has the passion to work for you. Despite recent challenges, it has been a joy to serve you during my time as commissioner and to play a pivotal role as a member of our shared community.