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ELECTION 2019: Four seats to be contested for Middletown Council, one incumbent not running

Posted 5/15/19

Four seats are open on the seven-member council. Robert Reid is not running for re-election.

Incumbents Angela Lloyd, Ellen Willenbecher and Michael Woodworth are on the Democratic primary ballot …

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ELECTION 2019: Four seats to be contested for Middletown Council, one incumbent not running

Posted

Four seats are open on the seven-member council. Robert Reid is not running for re-election.

Incumbents Angela Lloyd, Ellen Willenbecher and Michael Woodworth are on the Democratic primary ballot along with Phyllis Dew and Erin M. Blake.

As five Democrats are competing for four seats, one of the five will not advance to the November election.

The two Republicans in the primary are Richard Kluskiewicz and David Rhen, who both will advance to November.

Only Dew and Willenbecher chose to respond to questions from the Press & Journal.

Pennsylvania’s primary is Tuesday, May 21. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. In Pennsylvania primaries, you can only vote for candidates in the same political party under which you are registered. 

Phyllis Dew

Worked for more than 40 years as a social worker for Allegheny County, Office of Children and Youth, and then also Dauphin County Children and Youth Services, ending with the last 20 years running DEMAGE Inc. Counseling Agency focusing on foster and adoptive children. Bachelor and master’s degrees in social work, certified recovery specialist, and ordained minister. A 2016 graduate of the Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Development Institute of Greater Harrisburg.  

1. What should be the borough’s strategy regarding the Suez water and sewer lease? Should the borough continue to try to make changes to the lease in court? Should the borough set up a fund that would help residents and businesses pay their water and sewer bills (similar to the electric trust)?

Answer: I think that we should continue in the courts with the strategy of letting the courts make a decision and if that doesn’t work, explore setting up a fund to help people pay their water and sewer bills.  

2. What is your position on the borough’s zoning prohibition against more than two unrelated people living in the same house? Should this prohibition stay in place, or is it time to amend or get rid of it?

Answer: I feel that if Middletown residents keep their property up and pay their bills, they have the right to decide who will live in their homes related or unrelated.  

3. What is the top thing you would like to see accomplished in Middletown by the end of 2020?

Answer: Due to the opioid epidemic, I would like to see programs serving this community in such a fashion that they do not continue to take so many of our citizens’ lives, which leads to other problems as grandparents raising grandchildren and parents being incarcerated.  

Ellen Willenbecher

1. What should be the borough’s strategy regarding the Suez water and sewer lease? Should the borough continue to try to make changes to the lease in court? Should the borough set up a fund that would help residents and businesses pay their water and sewer bills (similar to the electric trust)?

Answer: Members of council are asked to not speak on borough matters that, like Suez, are in litigation. However, when I am walking around town talking to residents, I am heartened when I hear they understand that a previous council approved this contract with Suez, and they applaud the fight we are waging in the courts.

 2. What is your position on the borough’s zoning prohibition against more than two unrelated people living in the same house? Should this prohibition stay in place, or is it time to amend or get rid of it?

Answer: Again, this issue is also in litigation. But when this claim is settled we look forward to be able to address this important matter.

3. What is the top thing you would like to see accomplished in Middletown by the end of 2020?

Answer: A goal I will work towards during 2020 is for more and more people to say, “I’m glad I live here!” Much can be accomplished with a community culture of gratitude and optimism. To reach this goal, I will work on improving the quality of life for residents through physical improvements in our town. First will be through continued enhancements of the borough’s seven parks. They are centers in our neighborhoods offering places for people to meet, sites for organized youth sports, and safe places for kids to play outside. Trees and grass are efficient at managing stormwater and increasing air quality, and can have a cooling effect in summer. I hope to be elected to work with my teammates and borough staff to fund and build a replacement playground for Kids Kastle in Hoffer Park and to plan and fund upgrades and improvements to the other parks.

Another aspect of making physical improvements is to address the blight of a number of properties in the borough. My teammates, staff and I have a list of blighted properties that are diminishing the safety and welfare of the community. Property owners will be put on the clock to bring up to code their dilapidated building. Blighted buildings can send a message to a neighborhood that no one cares, but I do.

And, finally, my teammates, staff and I will begin to build a working relationship with the Middletown business community. The time is now for us to create an environment and strategic plan to sustain and retain local businesses and to attract new ones.

I hope you will trust me with your vote to get to work for Middletown.