Two seek supervisor seat in Athens Twp. primary

Voters will decide on May 21 whether Robin Smith or Susan Seck will win the Democratic nomination for an Athens Township supervisor position. The Review sent both candidates a questionnaire, and their answers are printed below.

Name: Susan Seck

Age: not provided

Address: Riverside Drive, Athens Township

Office sought: Athens Township supervisor

Political party: Democrat

Occupation: Business owner

1) Why are you seeking the office?

I am a candidate for office because our township has experienced tremendous growth and will continue to grow and I have no personal agenda but strongly believe we need dedicated stewardship and representation of the whole township and not just certain demographic areas. I believe that a fresh outlook would be good to offer the township.

2) What are your credentials for being an effective representative?

I have worked for 40 years directly with financial accounting as an office manager. I have served as secretary for the Ukrainian National Association for many years, and I have owned and operated a local business with my husband for 17 years.

3) If you are the incumbent, what have you done to deserve re-election?

N/A

4) If you are a challenger, what have you done to prepare for the office?

I am a lifelong resident of the area and a business owner and have followed many of the issues our township has addressed over the years. I have been keeping abreast of local events and issues through newspaper articles, the township website and talking with fellow taxpayers and residents. I plan to research all avenues and to listen to the residents as well as any potential development seekers.

5) What are the top three issues as you see them and what would you do about them?

This is very complex as many of the issues are interrelated. However, to boil them down to major categories, I would say the top three are the balance of local taxes coupled with impact fees to address the issues associated with growth and making informed and balanced decisions that best serve the interest of local residents, increased demand on township personnel and infrastructure, and anticipated increased expenses addressing current and anticipated rapid growth.

6) In the coming years, how would you like to see your municipality use its revenue from the impact fee on gas drilling?

With the actual and projected growth within the township, it would be wise to address issues of public safety including police and fire, tax reductions to encourage economic growth, review our infrastructure such as storm water and sewer projects or emergency services and make repairs to municipal buildings. We must stay within the guidelines of the law which are specific as to the areas that monies from impact fees can be spent. It is also imperative that we set up a reserve of funds for use when we need it for required future items.

7) What is your philosophy about taxation?

I am a firm believer that lower taxes promote economic growth whereas higher taxes stifle growth. The more money we allow taxpayers to keep to spend as they desire is in the interest of our township. Of course we need some fair level of taxes to provide the necessities for our community. It is one of those necessary evils. This of course requires sound fiscal management of our tax dollars. Being a business owner, I understand the need for sound budgeting, prioritization, staying within a budget and managing expenditures. All tax dollars will be accounted for and spent with all residents in mind.

8) How have you been campaigning?

I am not a big fan of campaign signs so don't expect to see a lot of them, as they clutter the township and can be an eyesore to many. Having the most yard signs does not necessarily make the best candidate. I don't believe in going overboard on spending. I have been mostly promoting my candidacy by word of mouth, personal contacts and phone contacts. I'm hoping that my reputation and willingness to listen will assist me in becoming the next Athens Township supervisor.

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Name: Robin L. Smith

Age: 57

Address: 252 Winding River Drive, Sayre (Athens Township), PA 18840

Office sought: Athens Township supervisor

Political Party: Democrat

Occupation: Athens Township Secretary

Education: High School Graduate

1) Why are you seeking office?

Having previously served as supervisor for 12 years, I know how important it is to keep focused on the needs of the residents we are elected to serve. Sometimes that gets lost in the shuffle, and I would like to make sure we don't lose sight of that. We need to be fiscally responsible, run an efficient workforce, set our priorities and listen to the voice of the people we represent.

2) What are your credentials for being an effective representative?

I was Township Supervisor for 12 years and Township Secretary since October, 1999. I previously served as a member of the Athens Township Authority, Satterlee Creek Watershed (secretary), NY-PENN Leadership Board, Greater Valley EMS Board of Trustees, and the PA State Assoc. of Twp. Supervisors (PSATS) Publications/Public Relations Committee. I was recently appointed to the PSATS Legislative Committee that will be working hard on issues of transportation funding, unfunded mandates, prevailing wage, and other priority issues to our municipalities. I am a member of the Athens Township Volunteer Fire Company. I will be available to work with you on any issues - if I don't have the answers, I will try my best to get them for you.

3) If you are the incumbent, what have you done to deserve re-election?

N/A

4) If you are a challenger, what have you done to prepare for holding office?

Having been involved with our township government since 1998, I bring that experience with me to the table. I am fortunate to also serve as secretary where I am able to interact with the residents on a daily basis. I try to keep up with training on current issues the township and residents are dealing with. I make myself available and will listen to your concerns, and help in whatever ways I can.

5) What are the top three issues as you see them and what would you do about them?

It's hard to pick three, because the issues all intertwine. We need to manage the cost of doing business so we won't be faced with increasing taxes. We are experiencing an explosion of growth in our township that is wonderful to see, but wreaks havoc with all that's needed to support that. We need more police officers, larger fire trucks and equipment, increased road maintenance/materials/equipment/repairs, larger facilities, etc. - not by choice, by NEED. It is increasingly harder to hold the line, but we need to do that. The cost of health benefits continues to spiral out of control. Equipment and vehicles need to be replaced. We've outgrown our building. We need to plan ahead for our capital purchases to be fiscally responsible. We need to work to increase our tax base. Create a budget we can live by. We are the stewards of your tax dollars and we need to live within our means as best we can. We need to listen to our residents so that we are sure to address their issues and concerns to the fullest extent possible. Working together is how things are accomplished. We don't know your needs unless you tell us.

6) In the coming years, how would you like to see your municipality use its revenue from the impact fee on gas drilling?

The impact fee was put in place to help ease the burdens that have been created by the arrival of the gas industry. These funds need to be used in areas that will give the greatest relief to our residents. We need to do our homework, keep ahead of the curve and create a feasible plan for the future. If it is used for road vehicles, police vehicles, road materials, paving - that helps ease the burden of having to replace these things strictly with tax dollars, which in the long run keeps taxes at a minimum. We need to set priorities and plan responsibly for the future.

7) What is your philosophy about taxation?

I think we need to live within our means. We have to do that at home, why would this be different? We need to be creative - encourage economic development to increase the tax base. Pursue grant funds for projects. Participate in programs available that provide a large percentage of funding if we will provide a small percentage of matching funds. There is money out there that can be applied for to help with projects such as bridge replacement, signalization, infrastructure, etc. We need to be vigilant in pursuing these avenues. We need to exhaust ALL options before considering an increase in taxes.

8) How have you been campaigning?

So far, just by word-of-mouth, but I probably will put a few signs up soon.