Supervisor races in several townships draw many candidates

Township supervisor elections will take place in six Lycoming County municipalities this year, including in Loyalsock, Old Lycoming, Plunketts Creek, Jackson, Mill Creek and Watson townships.

In Loyalsock Township, two six-year term supervisor seats are open. Jeff Rauff is not seeking re-election, while John C. Bower Jr. missed the county’s petition filing date by one day. Bower, a Republican, has decided to run a write-in campaign to preserve his seat in office.

Three Democrats and two Republicans have announced their intentions for the supervisor positions.

Republican Paul Nyman, of 350 Pearson Ave., is uncontested on the ballot, but faces incumbent Bower’s write-in campaign.

Bower, of 2260 Warrensville Road, where he owns and operates Bower Farms & Excavating, said he has helped to bring benefits to township residents during his six years in office. He pointed to the finalization of the township’s sewer consent decree with the state Department of Environmental Protection, street paving program and recent reduction of property owners’ taxes as highlights.

“With the other supervisors, we have been able to hold our costs down while improving services to our residents,” he said.

He said that the township now is able to realize more growth since the consent degree with DEP is finished. The department had limited the amount of equivalent dwelling units available for township building projects.

Bower said the limitation “stifled” growth in the township.

“We’re able to have full growth now. We’re not restricted in our growth,” he said.

Write-in candidates need at least 10 votes to move on to the November general election, according to the county’s Voter Services Office. The two candidates from each party with the most votes move to the general election.

Nyman, a retired U.S. Postal Service letter carrier who has worked in the township for more than 20 years, said he wants to keep up the solid foundation that previous supervisors have built.

He said he has made many contacts from his time delivering mail in the township. Nyman said he always had an interest in politics, but was unable to run for public office until he retired from his federal government position, which he did in June 2011, he said.

“I’ve enjoyed helping people and working with people,” he said.

“We’re a solid township financially and infrastructure-wise. I’d like to follow the steps of the past township supervisors to keep us financially strong,” he added.

Nyman said if elected as a supervisor he will work with county officials to increase the township’s recycling participation rate.

He also said he is thankful for the work that township staff do.

“I’d like the township employees to know they are appreciated for the job they do,” he said.

Two of three Democrats running will receive the nomination. They include Christopher A. Benson, of 2005 Bentley Drive; Jennifer Black, of 2425 Waldman Drive; and Richard Caschera Jr., of 1023 Bonair Drive.

Benson and Black are running a dual campaign. Black, who is employed as a therapeutic support aide, said she and Benson have worked closely together in volunteer positions and the Lycoming County Young Democrats organization.

She said she and Benson have the experience needed for the position of township supervisor. Both previously served as elected auditors in Loyalsock Township.

“We wanted to give Loyalsock voters a choice,” she said about running for office. “There’s always the same people all the time. Our biggest thing is giving the citizens a voice. We want to be that voice.”

Black said that public safety is one issue that she is concerned about.

Overall, she and Benson said they are ready for the job.

“We’re young, but we still do have that experience of being in office and understanding what goes on,” she said.

Benson, who is a regional manager within the Perkins restaurant chain, was elected township auditor at age 18. He said he has been active in the area’s political scene for many years.

He said he decided to run for office because of what he sees as so many municipalities struggling to balance revenues with the need for government services.

“Loyalsock is very lucky in terms of growth. We’ve managed growth pretty responsibly. I’m going to do my hardest to make sure we don’t get in that situation,” he said of governments that can’t pay their bills.

Benson and Black said they want to institute a township citizens council that advises elected officials of their concerns.

He didn’t mention any pressing issues within the township, but said that social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, should be used more to promote recreational opportunities and economic development.

He said that his professional experience as a manager will help as a supervisor.

“I just really think we could use a breath of fresh air on the board,” he said.

Caschera has more than 34 years of experience with the Loyalsock Township Volunteer Fire Co., where he previously served as chief. He now serves as the fire company’s lieutenant.

Caschera has served on numerous township committees and appointments by supervisors, he said.

“I’ve always had the community interest at heart. I feel it’s a natural progression for me,” he said about running for office.

Caschera has been active with township youth sports and Boy Scouts of America, in addition to educational safety programs with the Loyalsock Township School District.

He is employed as a consultant for a Pittsburgh-based company that specializes in emergency service plans and communications systems.

Caschera said he became interested in the supervisor’s position upon “seeing the growth and the common needs with public safety in our community.”

He thinks issues stemming from increased natural gas drilling activity need to be addressed.

“How is it going to affect our communities with the pipelines and the extra transportation traffic?” he said.

Old Lycoming Township

In Old Lycoming Township, incumbent John W. Eck, of 419 Sholder Road, seeks to retain his supervisor position against challenger David Shirn Jr., of 1737R Lycoming Creek Road.

Both are Republicans. There are no Democrats seeking the lone six-year term open supervisor position.

Eck, who has held the office for 12 years, said he wants to finish the job he started.

“There’s always more to do,” he said.

He said that his experience serving as a supervisor is a positive.

“I’ve already passed that learning curve,” said Eck, who added that he has always strived to form a consensus among his fellow supervisors.

“I’ve always tried to do things to the benefit of the township,” he added.

Eck said that the township’s biggest issue is its sanitary sewer system and its debt service. He also said that volunteer fire company regionalization efforts within the county, which he supports, is an important topic.

He said that the township’s personnel costs and the fees that are imposed to residents are adequate compared to the services that it provides.

“Payroll is a big part of operating a business. It is a big cost of operating the township. Our fees are in line to keep things going,” he said.

Shirn said that it’s time for a change in the township. He said that township residents are burdened with high taxes while supervisors oversee a $1 million payroll. Shirn also said that enforcement efforts are too selective.

“A lot of things are enforced depending on who the person is and how it gets enforced,” he claimed. “I don’t think that’s right.”

Shirn, manager of Shirn’s Pontiac Cadillac GMC, 1804 Lycoming Creek Road, said that the township needs to regionalize services – including fire and police – as appropriate.

“We need to start looking at do we really need some of these things or is it a want? We need to quit wasting tax money, as I see it. Regionalization is where it’s at. We just can’t afford a lot of this stuff anymore,” said Shirn, who served as the township’s fire chief from 1985 to 2009 and presently serves as a lieutenant.

Shirn also criticized the township’s sewer bills that he said are increasing. He said that commercial businesses are charged on the number of chairs within the structure.

“I think it’s unfair how they’re billing. I hear a lot of people complaining about that,” he said.

Plunketts Creek Township

Incumbent Republican Supervisor Marvin Springman, of 11021 Route 87, is seeking to retain his position for another six-year term. The retired contractor has been in office for almost 14 years, he said.

Three Republican challengers are set to face Springman on the ballot. They include: Randy L. DeVinney, of 160 Dunwoody Road; James W. Lewis, of 116 Engle Run Drive; and Casey Parker, of 155 Scaife Road.

No Democratic candidates are on the ballot in the township.

Springman said he’s running “just to keep things running the way they’ve been going.”

He said that road work is an important issue, especially on Dunwoody Road.

“We did a pretty good job on the roads but this year we should finish them up,” he said.

DeVinney, who lives across the street from the township building, said he sees what he thinks are improprieties there.

“Things are going on that shouldn’t be,” he said, adding that the township building should be locked down more.

DeVinney, who is self employed in the hardwood lumber business, said that things have gone missing at the building and that people can be seen there at all hours of the night.

“I’m just tired of people taking advantage of the system,” he said.

Parker, who is employed as a park maintenance supervisor for Loyalsock Township, said that he would like local government to have more of a say in the natural gas drilling industry here.

“We need to be cautiously optimistic about the gas industry, but we need to protect the environment,” he said.

Parker, who has served in the volunteer fire service locally, said he would like to explore working with other townships to regionalize services. He also said he’s interested in how Loyalsock Township was able to reduce citizens’ property taxes.

“I’d like to explore some of the ways they did it,” he said.

Lewis said he is running for election because it’s time for a change.

“New ideas always help,” he said.

Lewis, who is empoyed at Pneu-Dart in Barbours and serves as the Plunketts Creek Volunteer Fire Co. fire police captain, said that there are several local roads that were damaged in floods that are in need of attention.

He’s also concerned about area creek banks and how to protect against future flooding.

“We’ve still got some problem areas up here,” he said.

Lewis said he contemplated running for supervisor for the last few years.

“I thought now was the time to do it. I’ve had a lot of people in the community ask me to do it,” he said.

In Jackson Township, Stuart E. Hopkins, of 3809 Williamson Trail, Liberty, faces Stephen C. Marshall, of 1270 Marshall Road, Roaring Branch, for a six-year supervisor seat. There are no Democratic candidates.

Also in the township, Republican Arthur Plaxton, of 411 Laurel Hill Road, Liberty, and Democrat David L. Zeafla, of 567 Zeafla Hill Road, Liberty, are on the ballot for a two-year supervisor position. Both will move to the general election barring a write-in campaign since they are the only ones represented for each political party.

In Mill Creek Township, Roger Bower, of 67 Burns Road, Montoursville, faces Benjamin Meckbach, of 6000 Route 864, for a six-year supervisor seat. There are no Democratic challengers for the position.

In Muncy Creek Township, a six-year supervisor seat is up between Republicans Scott E. Delany, of 371 Fegelman Road, Muncy, and Daniel Whitmoyer, of 1363 E. Lime Bluff Road, Muncy. There are no Democrats on the ballot for the position.

Republican Richard M. Bitler, of 1449 Route 442, is running unopposed in his party for a two-year supervisor seat in the township. There are no Democrats on the ballot for the position.

In Watson Township, Don Breon II, of 929 Ridge Road, Jersey Shore, faces James R. Seitzer, of 4805 N. Route 44, Jersey Shore, for a six-year supervisor seat. There are no Democratic challengers.

L. Gene Zinck, of 14680 W. Route 973, is running unopposed for a four-year supervisor seat. There are no Democratic challengers for the position.