Pike Women for Change want new voices in county government

| 24 Sep 2015 | 03:19

By Linda Fields
— The Pike County courthouse may be a registered national historic building, but the overriding message from four Democratic candidates is that county government needs modernization, new voices, and “out of the box” thinking.

A large group of supporters gathered at a fundraiser and campaign kick-off Sept. 11 hosted by Pike Women for Change, the campaign committee for the candidates. Chairperson Carol Needleman hosted the event, and commissioner candidates Dave Ruby and Steve Guccini introduced the four: incumbent Missi Strub, running as a team with Lehman Township realtor Diane Hinson for auditor; Denise DeGraw Fey, on the ballot for the office of recorder of deeds/registrar of wills; and Kelle Hankins, running for prothonotary.

Hinson asserts that Pike County needs to have representation from Lehman Township. She told the Courier, “It seems like we’re the forgotten municipality. I’d like to have Lehman Township residents get more involved so they are heard.”

Hinson said many Lehman residents are not even aware they are represented in Pike County courts instead of Monroe County, where some of the township’s residents have their school district.

Strub called for more transparency and modernization.

“It would really be nice to have our website brought up to date and include a video of the commissioners’ meetings and maybe some other meetings that affect Pike County residents so that when the commissioners meeting is called at 9 o’clock on Wednesday morning and nobody can get there because they’re all working, they can go to the web site and see what they talked about," she said.

Hankins said that, once elected, a candidate has a responsibility to the public.

“I would like to see our elected officials more involved with the community," she said. "I’ve been involved with non-profits for the last five years, and the only time I see an elected official is during an election year. I think these people should be recognized walking down the street, people we can have a conversation with, that we don’t have to feel intimidated by when we go to their offices. It just makes sense to me. They work for us.”

Fey is looking for more courtesy. County residents often do not feel welcome when they enter the courthouse for help, she said, especially since many don’t know how to find the online information, and it’s not publicized.

“Unfortunately, when you go in for information, it’s not readily given,” said Fey. "And the experience of going into the recorder of deeds office, for the general public, is rather intimidating because they’re not greeted joyfully. The service that they’re looking for is not given, and people are typically not terribly helpful."

Not about politicsBoth Strub and Fey said their call for change isn’t about politics.

“I think what people are finally realizing is Pike County really is very strongly a bipartisan county," she said. "We’re not supporting parties in general. We’re looking at individuals to see whose best suited."

She said it’s about putting more balance in the county offices. "Newer people are more willing to bring new ideas," she said.

Partisanship aside, Hankins noted that a change in party affiliation may bring with it the needed change in government. She pointed out that she was astonished when once shown a Democratic ballot that was “Republican, Republican, Republican — and no Democrats even running.

“I said somebody’s got to step up, and that somebody is me," she said.

A petty governmentSome of the strongest comments came from host committee member and Hotel Fauchere owner Sean Strub, who called to task county officials for the way county government has operated.

“If people in Pike County knew how this government was run," he said, "knew how inefficient it was, knew how many different accounting and bookkeeping systems there are in every department and area in the county, knew how petty, how small, how partisan this government is..."

He pointed out that almost every new county employee hired in the last several years is a Republican, and that cannot be good.

“I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or Republican," he said. "That is bad. That is an imbalance in government."

He also called for Lehman Township residents to come out and vote, and “bring a level of transparency and accountability that has never been seen. “

For more information visit Pike Women For Change on Facebook or pikecountydemocrats.org online; or write to Pike Women for Change, PO Box 1233, Milford, PA 18337.