Thursday, October 12, 2023

Schuylkill County Commissioner Candidates Meet for Debate

The candidates vying for the role of Schuylkill County Commissioner engaged in a debate on Tuesday evening, marking a pivotal moment in the lead-up to the general election. 

Held at Penn State Schuylkill, this debate was the one and only face-off between the contenders, hosted and conducted by the Schuylkill County Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber's Government Affairs Committee.

The general election, scheduled for Tuesday, November 7th, 2023, carries significant weight, as it is set to usher in at least one new Commissioner. The reason behind this change is the failure of incumbent George Halcovage to secure enough votes during the primary, creating an opportunity for fresh faces to join the county's leadership.

The platform allowed for an ideological showdown, as five candidates hailing from diverse political backgrounds contended for three seats on the Schuylkill County Commissioners' board.  The candidates on the ballot included two Republicans, two Democrats, and one Libertarian, each bringing their unique perspectives to the table.

The candidates in contention and all participating in the debate are as follows:
  • Gary Hess (Incumbent) - Democrat
  • Rita Anczarski-Baldino - Democrat
  • Larry Padaro - Republican
  • Baron "Boots" Hetherington (Incumbent) - Republican
  • Gregory Woll - Libertarian
This election also holds special significance for Commissioner Hetherington, who was appointed to the position after the passing of Commissioner Frank Staudenmeier. It's his first time seeking the office through an election process.

The debate, emceed by Chamber President Robert Carl, revolved around crucial issues that the next board of Schuylkill County Commissioners will be tasked with addressing. The candidates tackled questions on various topics, including County Wide Property Tax Assessment, Fiscal Responsibility and County Budget, Transparency in Government, The Environment, Human Services, Emergency Services, and Schuylkill County Prison.

The evening culminated with a final question that offered insight into the candidates' priorities. Each contender was asked to identify the number one issue they believed Schuylkill County faces.

The debate provided an opportunity for voters to gauge the positions, ideas, and qualifications of the individuals vying for these important roles, helping them make informed decisions when they head to the polls on November 7th. 

To watch the full debate, check out the video below: