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Chester County Press

Four candidates seek seats on Franklin Board of Supervisors

10/22/2019 09:00AM ● By J. Chambless

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

Two seats are up for election in Franklin Township, where Democrats David Gerstenhaber and Mary McVeigh, and Republicans David Snyder and Brent Van Lith, are vying for positions on the Board of Supervisors.

Three members of the current board endorsed Snyder and Van Lith in a recent letter to township residents. “We strongly endorse David P. Snyder for re-election as a Franklin Township Supervisor, and Brent Van Lith for election to the Board of Supervisors,” read the message signed by current supervisors John Auerbach, Donna Dea and Steffen Torres. “We have worked with David and Brent over the past three to six years on many complex issues, and find them both to be extremely competent, efficient, effective, and easy to work with. They each exhibit a unique set of skills that provide a major benefit to Franklin Township.”

In campaign literature, Snyder and Van Lith summarized their qualifications:

David P. Snyder (Republican). Since moving to Southern Chester County in 2000, Snyder has been involved with helping local schools and keeping townships looking their best. In 2013, he was elected to the Franklin Township Board of Supervisors, where he still serves. While on the board, he has supported projects that repair and/or reconstruct multiple key roadways in the township, including the widening and the addition of striping and safety upgrades to many of these roads. He supported the construction of the salt shed at the township building to better manage winter storms, and the enactment of a volunteer service tax credit. This was accomplished without a tax increase. He is seeking a second term to continue keeping taxes low while maximizing the life of local roads. He has been living in Franklin Chase for the last 12 years with his wife, Patricia, and their two boys.

Brent Van Lith (Republican). A licensed professional engineer, Van Lith has had a 23-year career in civil engineering. With more than 20 years in road design and construction, he has the experience to maximize the life of township roads and buildings. He has managed projects that have exceeded $40 million. He has served the township by volunteering his time and acting as a Planning Commission member. He has also worked on improving township ordinances. Because he has worked on land development projects in multiple municipalities, he understands how ordinances should work together to provide fair and common sense practices. He has lived in Franklin Township for seven years with his wife, Nadia, and their two children.

In text outlining their platform, Snyder and Van Lith wrote, “Dave and Brent are both fiscally conservative. They believe in low taxes and small government. They also believe that the primary function of local government should focus on the core functions of the township: Road maintenance, emergency service, traffic safety, and land development/zoning. They both share a deep-seated belief that just as families must live within a reasonable budget, so must our government. Dave and Brent believe firmly that government should be as transparent as possible. If elected, they are committed to promoting government transparency in Franklin Township.”

In statements sent to the Chester County Press, the two Democratic candidates summarized their platform:

David Gerstenhaber (Democrat). I’m running for supervisor because we need to better manage the tax burden on our township, preserve our rural character, and develop a strategy for the future via a “Comprehensive Plan.” Taxes, by far, are the biggest issue in Franklin Township. And our current board majority is making decisions that are going to impact our already significant tax burden. Most offensive is our board majority’s decision to roll out the red carpet for Gourmet’s Delight and their planned five-acre compost facility in Franklin Township. Not only has the board majority chosen the hostile position against Franklin Township residents, in favor of a London Grove-based business, but they are planning, at taxpayer expense, road work to facilitate the high volume of truck traffic around the facility.

One of the best, low-cost ways to keep taxes from growing is managing development. Managed development and maintaining our open space means less wear and tear on our infrastructure, less congestion on our roads, and less stress on our schools. Whether it’s by standing up to hostile encroachment from business like Gourmet’s Delight, enforcing our zoning, or holding developers accountable, we can reduce the long-term tax burden on our residents.  

Finally, we can’t make effective, strategic decisions unless we create a new comprehensive plan for Franklin Township. This plan should be drafted with input from residents, and we should commit to updating it every ten years at minimum. Our current outdated plan from 2006, developed during the housing boom, would have allowed for one thousand extra homes in Franklin and doubled the size of the township. Our board majority has decided it is not necessary to replace a plan which didn’t work back then and doesn’t work now. I disagree. 

Mary McVeigh (Democrat). I have lived in Franklin Township for over 30 years. I raised my kids here, I managed my business here, and I retired here. I’m running for township supervisor because I am concerned about the board’s growing lack of transparency and lack of communication with our residents.

Residents I have spoken with do not know that the current board majority dramatically diminished our park fund by redirecting $170,000 per year in cell phone monopole revenue to the general fund. They don’t realize the impact sales of large parcels of land like Chisel Creek golf course could have on our community. Our residents also don't know that some of our home owners are facing a 25 percent reduction in property value because of direct decisions our board majority has made. Our current board majority, however, sees open communication as an unnecessary step. They feel that they know what is best for us.

I support making it easier for our township residents to get the information they need. We should livestream all township meetings, and distribute complete and detailed information before those meetings. We also need a township newsletter that fosters community awareness and offers all that residents need to know in one place: community news, events, issue information, budget summaries, and meeting minutes. Franklin is a township with so much potential, and I look forward to working with my neighbors to make Franklin an even more beautiful and dynamic place to live.