2007-10-13 / Front Page


On what makes them think they're commissioner material, spending plans if elected and more

One of the most influential positions of local government is that of a county commissioner.

Commissioners, who are elected every four years, decide everything from taxes to policies on land development, garbage disposal, incentives for employers to locate in a county, and a wide variety of human service programs.

In Cameron County, five individuals are seeking seats on the three-member board of commissioners that will be seated in January. They are: incumbent Glen Fiebig and Jo Ann Smith, Republicans; Phil Jones and Tom Callahan, Democrats; and Mike Songer, Independent.

Endeavor News seeks to inform our readers of the candidates' positions on critical issues. All five of the commissioner hopefuls agreed to participate in an interview series that kicks off with this edition and continues in the Oct. 20 and Oct. 27 papers.

Question: 1 - Recent census figures show a marked drop in Cameron County's population, as well as an aging population. Surveys show an out-migration of young people and a declining economy. As a county commissioner, what do you propose to do to reverse any of these trends?

Callahan: Medicine, education and technology have helped the entire world to live longer. We need to remember that with age comes wisdom. The people guiding our county may not be as tech-savvy as our youth, but in other ways they are much more educated. Let's try to increase the number of members in all age groups.

To encourage youth to stay in Cameron County or come here, we need to remind our youth to "pay it forward." The values that made them better able to succeed in the world started here. They are who they are because of where they were raised. Where do they want their children to be raised?

We need jobs, but we also need places to play -- recreation, sports, entertainment.

I choose to live here, so I want to help make Cameron County the best place on earth to live for me, my children, my grandchildren and beyond.

Jones: When Adelphia collapsed in Coudersport, Senator Joe Scarnati, State Assemblyman Martin Causer and the Governor Ed Rendell's office all stepped up and found a new business/employer to fill the void.

I would work hard with Joe, Marty and U.S. Congressman John Peterson to get more business/ industry here. This would diversify and broaden our tax base, keeping our young here and avoiding a similar situation as Coudersport has been facing.

Smith: I would continue to try to recruit new businesses to locate in Cameron County and provide as many incentives as possible to accomplish that goal.

At some point, low-income and subsidized housing may be of benefit to employees earning $7.00 to $8.00 per hour.

Fiebig: This problem is not unique to Cameron County or any other small county in Pennsylvania.

We in the current county government have recruited new businesses to the county with as many incentives as the county can handle, remembering that we still need to collect taxes from these businesses. That is the approach I will continue to use if re-elected.

Songer: The people have a very strong job base in the county to seek employment, but there is always room to increase that base. I would find companies looking to locate in an area with the type of job talent we have here.

Hunting and fishing are a large part of our county, but we need more recreation and cultural opportunities to keep the young people here. Some suggestions I have include: a YMCA with programs for adult and children, a theater, more dining facilities and clubs.

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