New Castle News

May 14, 2013

Our Opinion: Our endorsements for City Council race

By Staff
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The city of New Castle needs help.

Financially distressed and operating under Pennsylvania’s Act 47, New Castle must find ways to reverse its population loss and fiscal challenges.

Under Act 47, the city has seen improvements. But not enough. Even though New Castle is operating at a modest surplus this year, that won’t last.

Pension expenses and the rising costs of government take their toll. Long term, the city faces deep and serious financial problems.

That’s true for taxpayers and city employees. The high rate of taxation in the city erodes property values and those who work for New Castle government need to recognize job security in these circumstances isn’t guaranteed.

To counter this, New Castle must find avenues for growth. And from the perspective of city government, this involves reaching out and generating confidence in what city hall does.

The need for New Castle to build bridges and identify allies in its recovery was key in the New Castle News’ editorial board review of this year’s council candidates.

New Castle voters face a more complicated ballot than normal in the council race — at least on the Democratic side. There are no contested council races on the Republican ballot.

But this year, voters must select two council members to serve four-year terms and one to serve a two-year term. And of the six Democratic candidates running for four-year council terms, three are the candidates for the two-year slot.

Confusing? Yes, but we believe that of the six, three stand out.

Two in particular strike us as individuals who can be crucial in meeting the city’s need to attract support and assistance.

One is current council member Tom Smith. With his degrees in public administration and position as manager of Seven Fields borough in Butler County, Smith not only understands New Castle’s fiscal plight, he also sees ways to attract outside support for the city. That includes not only revenue streams from grant sources, but the benefits of forging operational alliances with other communities and organizations.

Smith’s local government knowledge base presents a tremendous asset for New Castle.

Similarly, Tim Fulkerson, a former mayor, makes a strong case for his election. Fulkerson’s exuberant personality, combined with his view government must do more to reach out to average citizens, promises to breathe new life into a city government that needs to inspire public support.

Meanwhile, incumbent councilwoman MaryAnne Gavrile also argues well for her return to office. She offers solid support for growth and cooperative endeavors. And she backs it up with community involvement.

So on May 21, we encourage Democrats in New Castle to select Tom Smith and Tim Fulkerson for city council’s four-year terms, and MaryAnne Gavrile for the two-year term.