Frankford candidates have their say before election


Seven candidates are competing for three seats on the Frankford Town Council during the town’s election on Saturday, Feb. 4. Voting will take place at Frankford Town Hall from 1 to 4 p.m., and the winners will serve two-year terms on the council. In an effort to get out as much pertinent information on the candidates as possible before citizens exercise their right to vote, the Coastal Point is sharing this question-and-answer piece with the candidates. The responses are listed in alphabetical order.

Ron Atherton
Q. What is your opinion of how the installation of the water plant and subsequent issues/costs have been/are being handled?

A. In the short time I have been back on Town Council, the maintenance has been very well handled. The associated costs of operation have been held to a minimum. Our current council president, Jesse Truitt, deserves a lot of the credit for saving the town a lot of money in this area.

Q. What is your opinion of how the railroad crossing situation was handled? Could the town have done more/done something sooner?

A. The Town acted as a third party in regards to the railroad crossings. The maintenance and repairs are decided between Norfolk Southern rail systems and DelDOT. Upon disclosing of the necessary needs, the situation was handled timely and the job was done well.

Q. Do you think the town is adequately staffed to run efficiently? Are productivity goals something to be increased for staff that is there? What do you think about electronic/wireless water meter reading as an example?

A. The current staffing is budget-based. There have been budget shortfalls which prohibited pay increases for any of the employees for the past four years until the adoption of the current budget. The Town currently employs one full-time and one part-time employee, apart from the Police Department, which has two. We have looked into the possibility of electronic water meter reading capabilities, but this proved to be too cost-prohibitive given the current economy standings.

Q. Do you think the police department is staffed adequately?

A. Yes, I think the Police Department is staffed adequately but is budget-sensitive also.

Q. Please share any ideas about improving the prosperity of the town; i.e. revenue enhancing opportunities, downtown business district or other improvements.

A. In applying the adopted mission statement for the Town, we are open to development plans which would enhance the quality of life. We believe in protecting our open spaciousness within the community. The Town is open to business ideas, however the Town is basically residential. The Town Park is a key area for improvement given the current plan to develop a health/walk track, which was made available through grant funding.

Q. What makes you most qualified for the position of town council member; why should people vote for you?

A. When one is running for public office they are also asking for the public’s trust. Therefore, creditability, accountability and transparency are mandatory. I have these credentials. My reputation with the Town is 100 percent solid, and I am also involved with various community and Town projects.

Skip Ash
Q. What is your opinion of how the installation of the water plant and subsequent issues/costs have been/are being handled?

A. The water plant issue has been long drawn out with overrun costs beyond what I ever thought. Contractors have walked away with being paid and not fixing the problems.

Q. What is your opinion of how the railroad crossing situation was handled? Could the town have done more/done something sooner?

A. The railroad problem took too long to be repaired; but with DelDOT, John Adkins and pictures in the paper, the railroad company finally made the repairs.

Q. Do you think the town is adequately staffed to run efficiently? Are productivity goals something to be increased for staff that is there? What do you think about electronic/wireless water meter reading as an example?

A. The town staff is a dilemma and is not run at a level that is efficient. The billing process is an issue, along with other day-to-day questions and answers that are not addressed in a timely manner. The water meters are read on time, the obstruction lies in the promptness of the person billing. Billing can be irregular and backed up months at a time. An electronic water meter would save on cost of man hours.

Q. Do you think the police department is staffed adequately?

A. The police department is in the new stage of development. I have some ideas and thoughts on how to utilize the police officers’ time enforcing the safety of our community.

Q. Please share any ideas about improving the prosperity of the town; i.e. revenue enhancing opportunities, downtown business district or other improvements.

A. We have many small-town qualities with a police force that needs more visibility; a library that is in the stages of growing and a recreational park for young children to meet and enjoy. Businesses in the town don’t have any voting input unless they live within the town. I believe that keeps businesses from coming into the town; we need their input.

Q. What makes you most qualified for the position of town council member; why should people vote for you?

A. I have lived in Frankford since 1987, and have served in the Frankford Volunteer Fire Company since that time. I have talked with people in the town community about the town issues. Occasionally, I have attended town meetings and left feeling that I wasted my time, seeing people discuss issues and be cut short with no answers to their questions. I would like to see the town council be more transparent and our community given answers.

Greg Johnson
Q. What is your opinion of how the installation of the water plant and subsequent issues/costs have been/are being handled?

A. The first installation was a blunder from the get-go. I was on the council as president during the third try. It was very difficult to face residents about the design that would not work the way we needed it to. The costs are being handled fine. The council was going to do a study on the cost per gallon in the near future.

Q. What is your opinion of how the railroad crossing situation was handled? Could the town have done more/done something sooner?

A. The Town has been trying to something about this for years. This time they got help from Sen. Bunting and Rep. Atkins. Maybe this should have been done sooner. Thank God for an election year.

Q. Do you think the town is adequately staffed to run efficiently? Are productivity goals something to be increased for staff that is there? What do you think about electronic/wireless water meter reading as an example?

A. We should have help in the Town Hall. Now, if we have a vacation the town office is shut down. There should not be overtime when they feel like it. We need daily logs to see if we are being productive in the office and in the maintenance department.

Q. Do you think the police department is staffed adequately?

A. At this time, the Police Department is staffed according to funding. The chief has done a great job expanding our department, securing funding for a new full-time officer. He is also always looking for different ways to run the department more efficiently.

Q. Please share any ideas about improving the prosperity of the town; i.e. revenue enhancing opportunities, downtown business district or other improvements.

A. We need to market our town. Low taxes—nice family town. Give incentives to business to locate inside the town. Clean up the downtown area. Rekindle the watch program. Council members must know what’s going on – not only on the first Monday, but all the time. We have a duty to the residents of this town. Let’s not have a good ol’ boy town. We also need to help our youth. One day they will be taking care of us.

Q. What makes you most qualified for the position of town council member; why should people vote for you?

A. I bring three years as president of the council to the table, as well as two years on the council.

Charles Shelton
Q. What is your opinion of how the installation of the water plant and subsequent issues/costs have been/are being handled?

A. The new water plant having been completed has been the “real success” for the Town and its residents. We have just completed a one-year timeframe with it to properly derive a cost-effective working budget.

Q. What is your opinion of how the railroad crossing situation was handled? Could the town have done more/done something sooner?

A. I feel the railroad project was handled properly through the various agencies.

Q. Do you think the town is adequately staffed to run efficiently? Are productivity goals something to be increased for staff that is there? What do you think about electronic/wireless water meter reading as an example?

A. The Town is adequately running to meet the services needed. Working within the confines of the budget and current economy does not make it feasible to increase staffing at the current time.

Q. Do you think the police department is staffed adequately?

A. Yes, I feel certain the Police Department is adequately staffed and would add since the initial startup three years ago that it has grown to two officers. Any expansion of the department would create a financial burden, so in order to be fiscally responsible we have maintained staffing and schedules adequately.

Q. Please share any ideas about improving the prosperity of the town; i.e. revenue enhancing opportunities, downtown business district or other improvements.

A. I feel, once the economy becomes stronger and developers/property owners start to resume building, the Town will actively pursue annexation. Doing this will enable a larger tax base to develop and expand the budget process to better build on.

Q. What makes you most qualified for the position of town council member; why should people vote for you?

A. I have served on Town Council for four years. I have areas that I would like to continue working on and would like to further serve the community by representing them on Town Council.

Jerry Smith
Q. What is your opinion of how the installation of the water plant and subsequent issues/costs have been/are being handled?

A. I believe grave mistakes were made from the beginning, such as the initial contract for the water plant not having been thoroughly vetted, tested and understood. The Town ended up being responsible for items in the contract that they thought were included in the construction, when they were not.

Q. What is your opinion of how the railroad crossing situation was handled? Could the town have done more/done something sooner?

A: From what I’ve been able to gather, having the Daisy Street crossing repaired was a matter of contacting the correct source.

Q. Do you think the town is adequately staffed to run efficiently? Are productivity goals something to be increased for staff that is there? What do you think about electronic/wireless water meter reading as an example?

A. As the town hall is presently staffed, it is simply not staffed to run properly or efficiently. It is staffed by one person. According to the present council people, this is one of the reasons water bills are often as late as four months. In the cases of illness, other emergencies or pressing personal business that has to be cared for, the town hall is randomly and sporadically closed on some regular business days and hours and sometimes opens late. One example: it was closed from Dec. 23, 2011, to Jan. 3, 2012, this year and years before.

Q. Do you think the police department is staffed adequately?

A. Contrary to stories that have been written, Frankford is a relatively quiet and peaceful town, a great place for any family. It has for years had one police officer; now we have two. The future expansion of the police force will depend on Frankford’s growth.

Q. Please share any ideas about improving the prosperity of the town; i.e. revenue enhancing opportunities, downtown business district or other improvements.

A. It would be in Frankford’s better interest to attract more homeowners and businesses to broaden and expand its revenue base. As prices continue to rise, this should be our goal, otherwise the expenses will be borne solely on the backs of the many retired residents who live here with limited income. This approach would help keep taxes and other utilities as reasonable as possible. Appealing to the suitable businesses will still allow Frankford to maintain its family atmosphere while making it more convenient for its residents.

Q. What makes you most qualified for the position of town council member; why should people vote for you?

A. Right now and for the past 10 years, Frankford has not had an election. People who presently comprise the council are there because they were either hand-picked or are there by default. I’ve been at the council meetings on a regular basis for years now and have often questioned the decisions made. I want to get people interested in their town. I began that as a resident. From people I’ve communicated with, they feel they have been pretty much alienated from their town and their government and have lost overall interest. These same residents and many more have ideas on where they would like to see the town go. After all, this is their town.

Jesse Truitt
Q. What is your opinion of how the installation of the water plant and subsequent issues/costs have been/are being handled?

A. I feel that the Town handled the installation of the water plant the best way possible considering many of the obstacles incurred while under construction. In order to develop a workable budget for the water plant, the Town received two work studies on rates but needed to incorporate actual running-time analysis and data into the equation. Now that we have successfully had it in operation, it has been fine-tuned to run efficiently and productively.

Q. What is your opinion of how the railroad crossing situation was handled? Could the town have done more/done something sooner?

A. It took the collaboration of many individuals over a period of time to identify the process needed to get the railroad crossing(s) repaired. Once it was clear that, while the State maintained, the actual maintenance of the railroad tracks were the responsibility of Norfolk Southern. Everyone involved from the railroad, the State, i.e.: DelDOT, and the Town all face budgetary constraints that restricted them. With the assistance of Rep. John Atkins and Sen. George H. Bunting, they were both instrumental in bridging the communication barriers that enabled us to get the railroad crossings and subsequent repairs necessary made.

Q. Do you think the town is adequately staffed to run efficiently? Are productivity goals something to be increased for staff that is there? What do you think about electronic/wireless water meter reading as an example?

A. I feel the Town is adequately running to meet the services needed. Working within the confines of the current budget and given the current standing of the economy does not make it feasible at the current time to increase staffing. Consideration and gratitude should be given to the current employees working for the Town given their workloads.

Q. Do you think the police department is staffed adequately?

A. I feel the Police Department is staffed adequately but is also subject to budget shortfalls and grant availability in order to grow. I feel Chief Dudley does an outstanding job working within the confines of a tightened budget.

Q. Please share any ideas about improving the prosperity of the town; i.e. revenue enhancing opportunities, downtown business district or other improvements.

A. Expanding the property tax base and infrastructure to incorporate annexation of areas around the current Town limits will promote to expand Town services, such as the resale of water.

Q. What makes you most qualified for the position of town council member; why should people vote for you?

A. I have been on council now for several years and feel my experience and dedication toward the Town speaks for itself. I was and continue to be supportive in all aspects of the running of the Town and ask for your voice of support.

Greg Welch
Q. What is your opinion of how the installation of the water plant and subsequent issues/costs have been/are being handled?

A. Our water system is being purposely mismanaged to exploit the funding that is available to fix it.

Q. What is your opinion of how the railroad crossing situation was handled? Could the town have done more/done something sooner?

A. The railroad had a responsibility to fix it and they did.

Q. Do you think the town is adequately staffed to run efficiently? Are productivity goals something to be increased for staff that is there? What do you think about electronic/wireless water meter reading as an example?

A. The town clerk being married to the council president is a terrible setup. We pay enough for a town hall clerk with proper hours. An electronic water meter reader would pay for itself in man-hours. It will not get your water bills out on time. Our meters are read on time every time. The bills are sometimes six months late because the clerk does not process the billing information.

Q. Do you think the police department is staffed adequately?

A. It would be nice to have 24/7 coverage. Our police department is doing a great job of getting grant money to provide a police department. Our town government needs to budget to pay for our obligations to that funding. Our new police officer is being paid for by a COPS grant. We are obligated to keep him on for at least one year after the two-year funding runs out.

Q. Please share any ideas about improving the prosperity of the town; i.e. revenue enhancing opportunities, downtown business district or other improvements.

A. During these economic times, it is hard to focus on a downtown business district. I think we need to focus on the community with improvements to the library and park, improvements on homes with housing grants, and improvements on input to the government from the people in our community.

Q. What makes you most qualified for the position of town council member; why should people vote for you?

A. I have attended most of the meetings for the past three years. I have followed the water plant project, comprehensive land-use plan, 113 bypass project and library expansion very closely for over a decade. There are many good people that care deeply for our community. I believe I am the most qualified for the position because I attend the meetings and speak up for what is right.