Trafford candidates outline their visions for borough
Contenders for Trafford Council focused more on their own attributes than any specific shortfalls of their opponents during a candidate forum last week at Trafford Middle School.
Policing, code enforcement and recreation were among the topics the candidates tackled in addressing written questions from Janet Erhard of the League of Women Voters of Westmoreland County and some of the 30 people who attended.
The forum, which the Trafford Democratic and Republican committees helped to organize, included Democrats Henry Schultz, Jay Race, Peter Ledwich and Cheryl Petersen and Republicans Richard Laird and Brian Ellicker. Democrat Casey Shoub did not attend.
Voters on Tuesday will choose party nominees for the four open four-year seats on council. The top vote-getters will advance to the general election in November.
One of the main topics that showed some differences among the candidates was whether Trafford should consider consolidating its services with another municipality.
Race, who joined council in February, said he saw no reason for Trafford to combine resources with other communities. To assist the borough's part-time code enforcement officer, he suggested giving police officers one shift a week to target more issues for citations.
Laird, the council president, said he thinks Trafford officials will have to consider consolidating services “somewhere down the road.”
“The expenses are just getting out of hand,” Laird said.
Schultz, a councilman since December 2011, said smaller communities can lose accountability by relying on employees from another town. He pointed to some complaints that Chalfant residents had when Forest Hills took over the public-works programs there.
Noting staffing issues with the Trafford Fire Co., both Laird and Schultz said they think there are problems with the department's leadership that are deterring more people from volunteering.
Petersen said she doesn't think consolidating services is a good idea for Trafford.
“You might be able to get grants better if you have one community asking for it,” she said.
A couple of candidates talked about being inspired to run by council's failures to act on some issues.
Ledwich said he met a 50-year resident who wants to sell two properties but is frustrated by the lack of action to clean a neighbor's yard that has junk on it.
“He told me that Trafford (is) not what it used to be,” Ledwich said.
Meanwhile, Ellicker said he approached council members a couple of years ago about a business that was considering moving into the Trafford Commerce Center complex, but he said officials weren't interested. He said Trafford is in a tenuous position because of bickering on the board.
“That, in my opinion, was an opportunity that was missed that will never come again,” Ellicker said.
Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8671, or firstname.lastname@example.org.