Today is Election Day. You have the chance to choose who should represent you in local, regional and state Supreme Court. I hope that if you live in Ward 2 of Ferguson Township that you’ll cast a ballot for me today. Why?
I will work for community well being, economic security and environmental integrity by focusing on our biggest challenge—growth. First, the recent Toll Brothers—Penn State upset makes hidden planning and zoning stresses obvious. All of the current board members have stated that they want to keep the growth boundary intact. But not all of them have voted to keep it intact in the past. Dick Mascolo, who is running against Laura Dininni in Ward 1, voted to upzone the parcel slated to become the Toll Brothers Cottages development. We are living with that zoning mistake today. I’d like regional stakeholders to comprehensively tackle development with maximum community input.
Second, we have to face environmental debt caused by runoff, greenhouse gas emissions, land conversion and other issues. As I understand it, the University Area Joint Authority who runs our sewer system is faced with buying nutrient credits. These allegedly deal with nutrient loads going into our waterways, nutrients that degrade aquatic ecosystems like the Chesapeake Bay. We need to be doing something different if we are in the “Whatever it is” credit buying system. The same is true for our energy and transport systems. Local government should do something about this. Synergized with a development plan, Ferguson and the region should develop environmental and climate action plans.
Finally, we face economic and demographic challenges and disparities as the region changes and grows that we must manage with care. 18% of our Ferguson Township residents live at or below poverty. Additionally, the demographics are changing. We need well-implemented workforce and low income housing that integrates people into communities. We need to do our part to ensure that the weakest among us–the elderly, very young, disabled, and other challenged people–are taken care of. As Ghandi said, “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” The same is true of our townships.
Finally, the other races are really important. I’ve been dismayed by the amount of shadowy money going into the races for Supreme Court and county commissioner. Dismayed is the wrong word. I’m appalled. There is no doubt that anti-union, anti-public school, free market fundamentalists are attempting to buy this election and maintain the Republican Party’s illegitimate gerrymandered stranglehold on state government. I believe that a real right to work means that you have a right to assemble, a right to unionize to protect yourself from vultures, and the right to a real living wage whether you are a man, a woman, black, Latino or any race or creed. I also believe that all people should be able to vote and that the current legislature, drawn illegitimately by right-wing apparatchiks, has engaged in a campaign of anti-American liberty-crushing legislation with voter ID laws and other such nonsense.
I can’t do much about this at the township level, but if you’re as fed up with this as I am, then vote to change things now. Vote for David Wecht, Kristine Donahue, and Kevin Dougherty for Supreme Court and Mark Higgins and Mike Pipe for Centre County Commissioners, and vote for me for Ferguson Township supervisor.