James Rada, Jr.

The Emmitsburg town election is on September 28. Four candidates are running to fill two commissioner seats. Here’s why they think residents should vote for them.

Rosario Benvengi

My family and I moved to Emmitsburg in 1989 after I had served four years in the U.S. Army. I had just accepted a job with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, and we were looking for a safe place to reside and raise our children. We found that place in Emmitsburg and have lived here for 31 years. After 10 years of service with the sheriff’s office, I started my first business as a private investigator. After 15 years with my investigating business, I opened an Allstate insurance agency, located on Main Street. I became a member of the American Legion, the Knights of Columbus, and was a driver for the Emmitsburg Ambulance Company. I managed one of six little league teams and umpired for the league prior to becoming a manager.

Eugene Myers, Thomas Topper, and John Hollinger were the first three people I met when I moved here, and they helped me understand how great this small town was. I decided to give to the community what it gave to me. In 1995, I was elected town commissioner. Although it has been 25 years since I was in office, I once again would like to give back to the community that has given so much to me and my family.

If I am elected, I will work with the current board and the Maryland State Highway Administration to obtain left-turn lanes for the east and westbound lanes located at North and South Seton Avenues. With more houses being built in and around the town, traffic will only increase, and the problem can’t be ignored any longer.

Second, I will work to provide a 50-percent tax credit for new businesses. This will allow new business owners time to settle in and allow their business to grow. We should do everything possible to help our small businesses, as they are a vital piece to our town’s success.

We need to take a hard look at all building requests in town. We need to make sure we have the water to support this growth. Prior boards have spent thousands of dollars trying to locate usable wells for the town. During my term as commissioner, we tested five wells and could not use any of them. We must not allow this town to outgrow the infrastructure that is already in place.

Finally, the town government, along with town employees, needs to do a better job in assisting our residents and businesses. There need to be more resources to support our existing and new businesses. Our existing sign ordinance needs to be updated to allow businesses to advertise within their premises. Town codes should not hinder businesses but help them thrive.

Liz Buckman

I decided to run for town commissioner, and I would like you to vote for me on September 28. Saying I love this town and the people is not enough. I have spent the last eight or more years in service to the Emmitsburg community, three of which were as a commissioner. Although we have gotten a lot of bruises on Emmitsburg Cares and faced the perils of social media, we, as a community, have created a platform that connects us all. We have created a support system for each other, meeting our needs, troubleshooting problems, and sometimes just sharing information. It allows us to stay aware of town affairs and what impacts us. Sadly, that is not enough.

However, that is not why I am running. I have seen the need for transparency in town government. The people elect officials to represent us, but we do not know what is going on. We should know what, when, where, why, and how of our government, and it should be presented to us in an understandable way. This is my main goal.

Electing me would create a more representative government. The town council, as it stands, is all married men. As a woman, a single mother, and a teacher of the visually impaired, I bring an additional perspective that is currently missing in our town council.

I will work together with civic associations, churches, other municipalities, the fire department, and the people of this town.

Elect me and I vow to instill a vision of possibility and stand with the people, to listen to you and advocate for you.

I vow to work with the other council members, MSM staff and students, our civic associations, our churches, our fire department, the health department, our cooperating municipalities, housing, the Seton Center, The Ship, mentoring services, and many more as we find creative solutions to the problems we face.

I vow to make decisions on how we spend your tax dollars because spending directly impacts me as a resident. We will begin to challenge spending and discuss how it impacts you. We will look at the budget and cut unnecessary costs. Let’s look at the future and plan accordingly so that we can continue to afford to live here.

It is apparent with the new Rutters and other businesses that growth is happening. I will vow to ensure we consider best practices in urban planning to keep this small town a vibrant and safe place for our children to grow and learn.

As a teacher, not with FCPS, I vow to support our schools by attending FCPS board meetings where decisions are made to advocate for our small community.

I pledge to work toward a transparent government and for a responsive government that looks at how they can help you, not why they shouldn’t. Our town needs to work on communication with its customers, the residents of Emmitsburg, who pay their salaries. Enough is enough. This Emmitsburg government was created by the people and for the people.

Tim O’Donnell

Emmitsburg is a thriving community. We are challenged by immediate and long-term issues. COVID, aging infrastructure—like water lines that must be replaced—and community growth, all need careful attention. These are all significant and have to be addressed.

Our town government has remained open during the pandemic and was able to quickly pivot to a socially distanced format when the need arose. As we again see the possibility of social distancing returning, our staff is ready and supported by myself and my fellow board members, to perform our duties and continue serving the community.

Through a systematic process, our water infrastructure is being replaced. We have made intense efforts to correct immediate problems, such as brown water issues. Additionally, the town government is carrying out a long-term plan to replace failing water lines. It is well known that I have pushed for this effort, and have also pushed for the town staff to pursue grant funding to upgrade our water system in a timely manner with as little cost to the community as possible.

Whether it is new business, new housing, or a new regional park, I have made it a priority to support appropriate, measured community growth that serves our needs but does not compromise our quality of life. Whether a household, business, or individual is new to Emmitsburg or has deep roots here, their voice must be heard in town government. I understand that this is part of my role.

In my role as board president, it has been my goal to assist my fellow commissioners in being heard in an open public meeting, while also advocating for the community. It has been my goal to be certain that anyone who has participated in a town meeting has been given full opportunity to be heard. It is imperative that the process of meetings is transparent and inclusive. I have taken this role seriously and have seen the progress the board and town staff have made in serving our community as a result.

I am passionate about the quality of our recreational assets. Our parks, paths, game fields, pool, and trails deserve proper funding. I have worked with numerous mayors; commissioners; committees; federal, state, and county elected officials; as well as my neighbors, to see our parks and recreational options expand. I have also successfully pursued improved pedestrian access. Good sidewalks and connectivity throughout our community are essential. We must continue to expand our pedestrian options and link with the university and the new regional park.

My belief is my past actions have served the Town of Emmitsburg well. Nothing I have achieved here has been done alone. It has taken a collaborative effort. My hope is that I will earn your vote on September 28, and together we can move Emmitsburg forward.

Cliff Sweeney

I have served the Town of Emmitsburg for 23 years on the Board of Commissioners. Through my eight terms on the board, I have held every commissioner position on the board, which gives me a strong foundation about how all aspects of our town government work. I am also a member of the Emmitsburg Lions Club, EOPCC, Sons of the American Legion, Knights of Columbus, and I have served in various leadership positions in each of them.

During my time as commissioner, I have helped create Community Park, improved Memorial Park, added more baseball and softball fields to the town, built a new town pool, and built hiking and biking trails. I helped get the state to replace two bridges in town and make other street improvements. Emmitsburg has revitalized the town square, improved its sidewalks, and updated its streets. The town was also able to get a new town office, senior center, library, and YMCA Head Start Program. We built new water and sewer plants and are in the process of getting a new pumping station.

I want to continue to build on this success as I continue to serve you as commissioner. I want to put more emphasis on bringing both large and small businesses to town, as well as promoting our current businesses. I want to create a more transparent government so that both residents and businesses understand what we are doing on their behalf. I want to bring back our beloved Little League and other youth activities. I want to see this wonderful community unified as we build a better future for ourselves.

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