The three republican candidates running for one two-year unexpired term on Clarks Summit Council agree on at least one point: The borough needs to generate additional income.
Dominic Scott, who was unanimously appointed June 26, 2012 to fill the seat after the resignation of former councilman Donald Moyer, is up against previous council member Robert Bennett, who resigned in 2009 to accept a job with the U.S. Census Bureau and M. Vincent Cruciani, a land representative at Williams and owner of Washington Healthcare Billing, LLC.
Scott said he’s been a Clarks Summit resident since age eight and graduated from Clarks Summit High School. He’s a Korean War veteran and active member of several community organizations, such as the VFW Post 7069, Our Lady of the Snows Church, Knights of Columbus, Catholic Social Services, Friends of the Abington Community Library, Rotary Club of the Abingtons and more.
He said he serves as Council Chairman of the Civil Service, Finance and a member of the Personnel and Union Negotiation Committee, and believes the most important issue facing the borough is its limited finances.
“The Finance Committee builds a budget and all items are discussed,” he said. “Each expenditure is reviewed. We are constantly looking for additional sources of revenue. We applied for and received a Grant from the state for a new police car. Advertisements will be available for sale on our police and DPW cars and trucks.”
Scott added he also donates his council pay back to the community.
Bennet is a Vietnam War veteran and an active member in the community, including organizations such as Odyssey of the Mind, Knights of Columbus and VFW Post 7069.
He also agreed on the importance of taking care of borough finances, and said the way to do so is not by cutting things out of the budget, but looking for ways to better stretch the funds that are available and bring in additional revenue.
“There is a way in which you can better spend your money,” he explained.”It’s not that anything is being done wrong; The question is, can we do the same with less expenses?”
He gave an example from when he was previously on Council and helped save money by negotiating a better deal on an insurance contract. Another example he gave involved exposed gas lines that he was able to persuade the company to place bars around for safety at no expense to the borough.
Cruciani, the youngest of the candidates at age 30, said he represents “a new generation of leadership that will bring fresh ideas and a new perspective to the borough.”
“I plan to use my education and experience in negotiations, business and law,” he said, “to diligently review all issues that come before the council in an effort to avoid short-sighted decisions and create a lasting prosperity for the borough. I will always favor the interests of the borough taxpayer over the special interests of a few.”
He echoed Scott’s and Bennett’s concerns for the borough finances, stating, “the most important issue facing our borough is remaining financially solvent.”
“This is especially difficult,” he said, “because of the debt we incurred through poor decision making over the last decade. We need to rigorously pursue paying off this debt without creating a further burden on law-abiding taxpayers.”
One way he plans to accomplish this, he said, is by making the effort to collect revenue from delinquent taxpayers.
Cruciani added another issue of concern to him is homeowner rights.
“We must also address the series of unnecessary regulations that have been placed on the people of the borough,” he said, “particularly on residential property owners. While safety concerns must be considered, we must not unduly restrict the rights of the homeowner.”
Running for three four-year council terms are democrat Gerrie Fitzgerald Carey, current council president; democrat Jim Klein; democrat Patrick Williams, current councilman; Bennett and Cruciani.
Carey, 70, was born and raised in Clarks Summit, living the past 47 years on Gladiola Drive, where she and her husband raised four children, Hutch, Mary Ellen Berry, Rick, Colleen and five grandchildren. She has served on Council for four terms from Vice President to President. She said she enjoys “working with our devoted council members on numerous projects and issues, seeing them to completion.”
Carey discussed the current state of the borough, “Our borough is made up of a large percentage Senior Citizens, who we respect their fixed income. Our Earned income Tax, due to the economy, has been decreasing, thus leaving us with the only option to brainstorm and find new sources of revenue, while keeping our services in place. Raising taxes is never an option. We have been very successful with J.P. Mascaro, in securing our Garbage contract with no increases, and our new single stream recycling, which has almost doubled for recycable revenue. That is due to all our conscientious residents’ good efforts in getting our tonnage up, bringing in more revenue..”
Current council member Patrick Williams, 71, is seeking another term. The 42-year resident of Clarks Summit said an issue of great concern to him is keeping the Borough safe and the finances in good order.
“I want to continue working on the many existing issues in our borough and am always looking for new revenue streams to keep our taxes low,” said Williams.
He and wife Carol raised four children and their family includes seven grandchildren.
Klein, 72, resides in Clarks Summit, where he has lived for almost 40 years, with his wife, Elizabeth. They are members of the Our Lady of the Snows parish, and raised their children, Kathleen and Christopher, in the Borough.
After teaching at Manhattan College, Iona College, and Fordham, he accepted a position at the Penn State Worthington Scranton Campus. He retired from Penn State after 36 years of service and currently holds professor emeritus status at Penn State. He said, “It was a pleasure to work with the students and teachers in our community in their science endeavors.”
He and his wife are serve on the board of the Friends of the Abington Community Library and various Friends committees. “Clarks Summit is a wonderful community, and I would be proud to serve our community as a member of the borough council.”