Seven vie for three seats on Sayre Borough Council

 

On Nov. 5, voters will decide which of seven candidates will win three four-year positions on the Sayre Borough council. The Review sent a questionnaire to the candidates, and their answers are printed below.

Name: Susan White-Alvino

Age: 63

Address: 307 N. Lehigh Ave., Sayre

Political party: Democrat

Ocucpation: Co-owner, AL-Tech Electronics

1) Why are you seeking the office?

I am seeking a seat on Sayre council for much the same reason I entered nursing. I believe I can make a real difference. It will be one of my priorities to bring open, transparent, inclusive government to Sayre. All citizens should be welcome at council meetings. Council should always be respectful and listen carefully, even when there are disagreements. Change is difficult, but unavoidable. How we plan for those changes can make all the difference. We need a council that will give Sayre their very best. I will do that every day.

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

As a resident of Bradford County since the age of 10 and a 1968 graduate of NEB, I have worked in many fields. I worked in food service, from wait staff to management, until entering the LPN program at the Northern Tier Career Center (formerly Bradford County Vo-Tech). After earning a perfect score on the licensing exam, I went on to work in various nursing homes and the Martha Lloyd School, then was employed at Robert Packer Hospital from 1989 until my retirement in 2000. Currently, I am co-owner and general sales manager for AL-Tech Electronics, a business that has been in Sayre for over 30 years. Once a brick-and-mortar business, AL-Tech is now an Internet sales company, serving domestic and global markets.

In addition, I am currently serving as corresponding secretary for the Valley Business Womens Network, and have served as vice-president and president as well. I am also a committee member with the Bradford County Democrats. As the saying goes, when you need work done, ask a busy person. I am busy, but never too busy for Sayre.

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 the office?

I have gone door to door and met many residents of Sayre. I have listened and taken their concerns seriously. Early on, I was very active in the proposed zoning map changes and was able to present balanced arguments for and against various changes. In truth, it seems as if my entire life has been a buildup for this campaign. From being one of 11 children, being a single parent and my work history and now as manager of my own business, I have learned the importance of communication, delegation, negotiation, compromise, teamwork and just plain hard work. Toss in a healthy sense of humor, common sense and a fairly thick skin, and I bring exactly the skill set needed by Sayre Council.

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

First and foremost is the need to make Sayre council more open and transparent, assuring that all executive meetings are within the very narrow scope of the Sunshine Laws. I would press for small changes in all meetings, such as reading the minutes before approving them. Council meetings should be conducted more like town hall meetings, allowing citizens to ask and receive answers in real time. Also, as stated before, long-range planning is vital. We must consider the impact of decisions on real people.

We must finish the mapping and registry of our historic district. Preservation Pennsylvania has offered to assist with this, and we should quickly accept and embrace their help. Other towns, around our state and across the nation, are thriving by embracing their history.

I also feel it may be time for Sayre to hire a community planner to assist with developing a master plan for Sayre. Someone to help guide us and help to assure a bright future for many generations to come. On a smaller scale, we need to clean up the downtown, literally. Working with businesses and residents to clean up litter, graffiti and broken windows could make a world of difference.

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

We need to invest in the future. It is a constant mantra that Sayre is landlocked, and can not grow, but that does not mean Sayre can not improve. We need to look at affordable family housing, utilizing our parks more effectively, and paying down debt such as the sewer project. As I have mentioned before, it is time for Sayre to develop a master plan to assure a thriving town for generations to come.

7) What is your philosophy about taxation?

No one likes to pay more taxes than is necessary. However, more than that, we want to be sure that every tax dollar is wisely used. Sayre has not had a tax increase in five years. That is to council's credit, and I will not disparage their success. I would like to contribute to keeping taxes as low as possible. At the same time, we must look at the budget with a critical eye and eliminate any waste.

8) How have you been campaigning?

I have been talking directly to residents of Sayre and plan to continue knocking on doors during these final days. I have posted signs around town. I am utilizing this format as well. We plan to have some newspaper ads. Taking my message to the people has been very effective. The voters are ready for a new direction, new leadership in Sayre. They will be asked to pick three, and I strongly encourage them to vote for Jan Scott, Gene Osmun and myself on Nov. 5.

Name: Timothy Shaw

Address: 822 N. Wilbur Ave., Sayre

Political party: Republican candidate, registered Democrat

Occupation: security officer

Education: Sayre Area High School

1) Why are you seeking the office?

I am not the stereotypical office seeker. I do not believe that the borough is heading in the wrong direction or being mismanaged, and I don't believe the current Borough Council is not interested in what the residents have to say. I do believe that the borough must be operated as a business and that decisions must be made in the best interest of the entire community and not for the benefit of a few. I am seeking office to do what I can to ensure that our children can continue to grow up in a safe town, and want to return home after college, to work and raise their families here.

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

First and foremost, I do not have any pet projects or personal agendas. I am a lifelong resident, small business owner and a taxpayer. I consider myself to be a teamwork-oriented person and I understand the importance of planning when making decisions that will have an immediate impact on residents today, but also impact future generations.

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

N/A

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

After I decided to become a candidate for borough council, I made it a point to talk with several current members of the borough council and borough administration to discuss concerns that I had. I spoke to residents and asked for input from them regarding their concerns.

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

I am concerned with the following three issues:

a) Fire Department - the opportunity to have a full-time fire truck driver is a tremendous public safety asset for our residents. As a member of the borough council, I will work with our fire chiefs and finance staff to make sure that we will be able to maintain that service in the future.

b) Police Department - Our police department works tirelessly to control increasing drug use in the borough. As a member of the borough council, I will work with the mayor and police chief to ensure that our officers have the best equipment and training necessary to do their jobs safely.

c) Infrastructure projects - The borough has completed several infrastructure projects during the last eight years, but unfortunately there is more work to be done. As a member of the borough council, I will work with the public works foreman, borough manager and borough engineer to identify problem areas and develop a plan to continue to make improvements to the borough's aging infrastructure that will have the least financial burden on residents and business owners.

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

As a member of the borough council, I would like to see the borough continue to utilize impact fee revenues as they have already been doing. The borough used funds to purchase a new fire truck, road paving and other projects that all residents will immediately benefit from, but future generations will also benefit.

7) What is your philosophy about taxation?

It is a necessary evil. Like anyone else, I would rather have a little more money in my paycheck, but as long as tax dollars are spent appropriately, I see no reason to complain about them.

8) How have you been campaigning?

With a full-time job, a small business, being the parent of three active children and a PIAA official, I try to campaign whenever and wherever I can. I take every opportunity to talk with residents about their concerns and ask them to consider voting for me. I may not have all the answers, but look into the issue and try to get them an answer.

Name: Jan Scott

Address: 204 Hayden St., Sayre

Political party: Democrat

Occupation: per-diem oncology pharmacist, semi-retired

Education: Nursing diploma RN, St. Luke's Hospital, Bethlehem, Pa.; BS in Nursing from Penn State; BS in Pharmacy from University of Wyoming

1) Why are you seeking the office?

I want to have a positive impact on the decisions which will determine the future of Sayre and would like to be an agent of change which will help assure progress. I'd like to engage businesses, community leaders and citizens to build a stronger economy in Sayre. It is important to serve on council and be willing to ask questions, review proposals, do research and not be "one of the herd."

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

My career has been in healthcare where it is necessary to be able to communicate with people of all levels. It is important to be kind, consider the needs of the people you serve, listen to them and let them know they are valued. I also served on the borough planning commission for eight years and respected the voices of the citizens who attended the meetings.

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 the office?

I worked hard to educate myself about the whole process of a borough council government. I obtained and studied the Borough Council's Handbook, the Borough Mayor's Manual, the Municipalities Code and the Sunshine Act. I have attended nearly every council meeting, the Code Enforcement Committee meetings, the Administration Committee meetings and public hearings in 2013. I've asked procedural questions of the borough manager and past and present council members and reviewed the financial plan for 2013.

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

The first is a need to define the historic district and develop user-friendly rules for contractors and businesses to follow. These rules would be used to create a consistent historic district. There needs to be an ordinance that has some teeth and regulates the functions in that designated area.

Next, it is important to have fiscal responsibility. We want to do whatever we can to continue the great services provided by the borough and keep costs down.

Invite and encourage the community to participate in borough decisions. Borough council should listen to questions and concerns of their citizens and maintain open communication with them. Also, revitalize some citizen groups such as the shade tree commission and the historic preservation group.

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

It is imperative again to have fiscal responsibility. The revenue should be used for projects that are defined by Act 13. I'd like to see it used for road repair.

7) What is your philosophy about taxation?

We all know taxes are necessary to provide services to our community such as road repair, police and fire protection and numerous others. What is important is that taxes can be kept to a minimum when we practice good fiscal responsibility. Fluff should be avoided and wise decisions and choices need to be made.

8) How have you been campaigning?

I've spoken with people face to face to share my views. More formally, I've been a guest speaker at a Democratic Party meeting and shared my philosophies. I have also used political buttons for name recognition and posted numerous political signs to familiarize people with the fact that I am running for office.

Name: Gene Osmun

Age: 70

Address: 515 N. Wilbur Ave., Sayre

Political party: Democrat

Occupation: Veterans' service officer, Bradford County

Education: B.A., Lock Haven University; M.A., St. Francis University

1) Why are you seeking the office?

I wish to continue the involvement and attention to the issues that is needed to contribute as much as possible to our community.

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

My experience and knowledge of local government, including 20 years in borough government, 11 years in county government and a continuing interest and care for the community.

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

I have continued active involvement, responding to constituent requests and concerns, and worked for improvements that are needed.

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

N/A

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

My continuing concerns are the high cost of an expanding bureaucracy for a small community not increasing its population or its tax base, increasing and burdensome sewer costs and the need for maintenance and pursuit of efficiencies in government.

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

To make important infrastructure improvements to improve health, safety and efficiency. Contributing to pay for part of the new sewer plant would meet that requirement and be of benefit to all citizens who use it.

7) What is your philosophy about taxation?

As little as possible to continue and maintain services. If it becomes too burdensome, we must look for ways to improve and cooperate with other communities in mutual aid and consolidation of services.

8) How have you been campaigning?

Discussing the issues with constituents, answering questions, conveying concerns, attending meetings and events and voting in support of the best interests of this community.

Name: Melissa A. Post

Age: 53

Address: 114 West Street, Sayre

Political Party: Independent for Sayre

Occupation: Clinical documentation integrity specialist, Nuance Healthcare; adjunct instructor, health information technology, SUNY Broome Community College

Education: Bachelor of Science, Ithaca College

1) Why are you seeking the office?

I believe that the people of Sayre deserve an independent voice on Borough Council that can help foster an attitude of cooperation and work toward common-sense approaches to issues and challenges the community faces.

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

I gained experience working with government, businesses and residents in seven years on the Sayre Borough Tree Commission. I have further experience operating within governmental agencies serving as elected Judge of Elections in Sayre's fourth ward for six years. I have participated in community service with short-term recovery locally after the flooding in 2011 from Tropical Storm Lee, and in Ocean County, New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy.

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 the office?

I've been listening to residents, small business owners and my neighbors to learn what they feel are the pressing issues that need to be addressed by their local government.

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

I think a difficult issue in our community is that Sayre residents perceive their relationship to their elected government as contentious and argumentative. We need to establish an atmosphere of trust and cooperation, while still allowing for respectful differences of opinion. Then we can move forward more efficiently on important issues like providing cost-effective services to our residents, being good stewards of our community resources and offering an environment that fosters both business development and a vibrant and peaceful community in which to live. Choosing an individual running with an independent viewpoint might begin to achieve that balance.

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

It makes good sense for the Borough to use impact fee money to help finance projects where no resources other than taxing residents are available.

7) What is your philosophy on taxation?

The Borough has been fortunate to see budgets without tax hikes for four consecutive years. Next year's proposed budget likewise is without an anticipated rise. Unfortunately, that is offset by a pretty much unavoidable sewer rate increase to pay for upgrades to our sewer plant that were mandated by state (Pennsylvania DEP) and federal (EPA) authorities; our community's tax history notwithstanding, that's hitting all of us pretty hard in the wallet. It makes good sense for the Borough to use impact fee money to help finance projects where no resources other than taxing residents are available.

8) How have you been campaigning?

It's been congruent with how I've been preparing to hold office….listening and learning. I'm not ashamed to say that I'm the new kid on the block with respect to borough governance, but the feeling I'm getting is that a new, fresh voice in local leadership might be just what our neighbors are looking for.

Name: James Daly

Age: 62

Address: 305 Lincoln St., Sayre

Political party: Republican

Occupation: U.S. Air Force, Retired

Education: Associate's Degree, Communications Processing Management; Advanced Certificate Borough Emergency Management Coordinator.

1) Why are you seeking the office?

Continue to meet the opportunities and challenges of serving the citizens of the Borough of Sayre.

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

I am interested and concerned about the future of our community and willing to take on the work load that comes with the responsibility of an elected official. Serving on the Council allows me to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead of us.

 

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

I rejoined the Council, filling the seat vacated by Mr. Hickey, earlier this year after a 14-month absence. My service to the community started in 1997 through 2012. Along with my colleagues, I kept taxes reasonable, supported our ongoing effort to repair the borough's infrastructure; supported capital infrastructure projects that led to the new Police and Public Works/Emergency Operations Center buildings that will serve the

borough for many decades to come; and continue to support the services many residents have come to expect and rely upon.

 

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

N/A

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

a. The national program of the Army Corps of Engineers/FEMA for mandatory certification of the nation's levees. This is a program already underway in the Borough and is incredibly important to accomplish to keep residential, especially Eastside residential, owners flood insurance, now based on risk potential, as low as feasible.

 

b. Capital improvements to the sewer and road system infrastructure are ongoing issues. An earlier engineering study gave us an idea on what it would take to upgrade the sewers - the costs are sobering and it is clearly a long term project. Declining Liquid Fuels monies, tax dollars returned to the community, are used for road improvements but the rising costs of materials and labor reduces the amount of roadway we can repair/replace. The potential revenue from impact fees on gas drilling is a potential solution to these issues.

 

c. Providing services the community is accustomed to receiving while staying within the limits imposed by the budget. A task that is becoming more difficult with inflation that impacts almost everything in our society.

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

Capital Improvement Programs, focusing upgrading the sewer and road systems. A community is only as strong as its infrastructure.

7) What is your philosophy about taxation?

Taxes should be raised only when absolutely necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Borough supported by residents and to address mandatory fiats from the Commonwealth and/or the Federal governments

8) How have you been campaigning?

Very often, residents approach me with questions and I try to answer them to the best of my ability.

Name: Barbara J. Ault

Address: Sayre

Political party: Registered as Republican, but vote for the candidate, not the party

1) Why are you seeking the office?

In recent years I have noticed a lack of transparency and a disregard for accepted procedures on behalf of some of the Council members. They seem to have forgotten that they work for the people who have elected them. If elected, I would work to return the openness and respect that the citizens deserve.

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

I have always believed that any citizen with a sincere desire to serve is eligible for this office. In addition: I bring the experience of having served as a member of the Council, the Sayre Borough Planning Commission, and numerous community and economic development organizations.

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 the office?

Since making the decision to seek this office I have made a point of attending meetings, accessing information on the Borough web site, asking questions of various members of the Borough administration, and closely following media reports on Borough activity.

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

I believe that the Code Enforcement program needs an overhaul. Our permit fees are extremely high and we charge fees for projects that are exempt under the Uniform Construction Code that has been adopted by the Borough. We also continue to charge a registration fee to home improvement contractors which should have been discontinued when Pennsylvania began its state wide registration.

Since Historic preservation and a vital downtown provide tremendous economic advantages I consider them essential. Re-establishing citizen organizations and allowing them responsibility in these areas would help us realize some of these advantages.

And, always, keeping taxes low while maintaining the present level of services must be a continuing priority.

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

One accepted use for Act 13 funding is for rental housing since that is what is most required by employees of the industry. Since our Comprehensive Plan addresses the use of upper floors of downtown buildings for apartments, perhaps development of a program to achieve some of the Plan goals would be a good use. In no case do I think it should be used for normally budgeted expenses since its continuation is not guaranteed.

7) How have you been campaigning?

Most of my campaigning has been through personal contact. My sign placement has been derailed by an accident, but there will be fliers and ads to come.