Over the next week or so, I will share the responses from the South Whitehall Township Commissioner candidates for eight questions generated by the citizens on this blog. Admittedly, I had to sift through some of the “spicier” suggestions, and those specific to an individual candidate, but overall there was a lot of honest, productive, probing questions designed to help voters make an informed decision as Election Day approaches. I chose eight questions that cover the important and current topics in South Whitehall today. I hope you find them pertinent as well.
Three candidates took the time to respond and are working hard to earn your trust and your vote. Disappointedly, the two incumbents chose not to respond. Why would they not answer this first overarching question? They are directly involved in setting the tone and direction of the township, so this would have been their chance to share their vision.
After reading the candidates’ answers, let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Today’s Candidate Question: Is South Whitehall headed in the right direction? Why or why not? If “yes”, what would you do to continue in this direction? If “no”, what would you do to change the direction?
Christina “Tori” Morgan (R): No response.
Joe Setton (D): No response.
David Kennedy (R): The current leadership of the Board of Commissioners has failed to put the residents of SWT first. It is NOT going in the right direction, but that can be corrected with new BOC leadership and commissioners. It’s “time for change” now.
Monica Hodges (R): No. Although South Whitehall is a desirable place to live, with proposed large, dense developments like Ridge Farm and Parkview Inn, multiple new warehouses, and no effective farmland preservation, the character of our township is changing, and not for the better. Massive development puts a strain on our roads, infrastructure and schools, overwhelms our first responders, and negatively impacts traffic and citizen safety. The fiscal health of the township is unclear as audits have not been completed for ten years. The above, along with the lack of transparency in how commissioner and advisory board vacancies have been filled, are concerns which need to be addressed. Many citizens have lost faith and trust in their local government.
To change this direction, zoning changes need to be made to minimize massive, dense developments and encourage developments which are rich in green space and more consistent with the character of South Whitehall and its current residential neighborhoods. Vacant buildings and lots need to be repurposed and beautified. Agricultural zoning needs to be added to our zoning map—we currently have none-- and a plan for farmland preservation needs to be implemented. Audits—required yearly by PA state statute-- need to be completed immediately, with no more excuses, and interviews for all township boards, after rigorous advertisement, should be open for the public to observe. Faith and trust in local government needs to be restored through transparent, compassionate leadership, respect, easily accessible information on the township website, and inclusion of citizens’ input and participation.
Thomas J. Johns (D): No. I believe South Whitehall is not headed in the right direction especially regarding the issue of communication with the residents. I would increase the number of issues of the publication currently in use.