Eight candidates are vying for four seats on the Topton Borough Council in the November election.
Three of the candidates — Caitlin Moll, Monica Kunkel and Ethan Polinsky — are incumbents. They will be competing against Kathy Hassler, Eric Stoudt, Michelle Stoudt, Alane Falcone and Carol Cook.
Council members serve four-year terms.
We asked the candidates to respond to two questions:
Question 1: Why do you believe you are the right person for this position?
Question 2: What are the most important issues facing the borough right now, and how do you plan to address them?
Caitlin Moll, 38.
Background: Moll has been a member of borough council for the past four years. She lives in the borough with her husband and children, and enjoys partaking in the events, activities and offerings that the borough provides for the community.
Response 1: As a council we have worked hard in the last four years to overcome numerous obstacles, and I would like the opportunity to continue to serve and see some of our ideas through. As a mother to two young children in the borough I have a passion for attempting to make Topton a community that is safe and thriving.
Response 2: The borough currently has some areas of concern in terms of updating and maintaining roads, the pool area, etc. It is important that the borough addresses them in a timely but yet fiscally responsible manner. It is also important that the borough continue to offer opportunities for residents of all ages to partake in.
Michelle Stoudt, 46.
Background: Stoudt has spent 20 years working as a legal assistant and seven years overseeing accounts for a commercial construction company. She holds several volunteer positions, including food stand coordinator for Brandywine Baseball Association, a Sunday school teacher at Trinity Lutheran Church and a helper at Brandywine Heights Elementary School.
Response 1: I have a strong drive to help my community. The decisions made have to be made with the thought that this is people’s hard-earned money as well as my own. I believe in transparency, communication and working together. At the end of the day, I need to believe that I made the best decisions I could with all the tools at my disposal.
Response 2: There are several important issues facing the borough right now, which include but are not limited to: roads, the pool, sewer issues, water issues and many more. The only option is to address these issues one at a time and try to work together for the most cost efficient and simple solution.
I would want to address the issues that affect every resident first such as the water and sewer issues as no one wants to be without either, then work our way down the list. There are going to be some tough times ahead, but hopefully with some good solid planning we can come out the other side stronger and in a better place.
Alane Falcone, 58.
Background: Falcone has been a resident of Topton for more than 20 years. He is a graduate of Brandywine High School and operates a small business in the borough. He has previously served in public office for four years as a school board member.
Response 1: I have been attending borough meetings for many years, and I have an interest in serving my community. I am fiscally conservative, so if you are concerned about increasing costs, I will try my best to keep the spending to a reasonable limit.
I am not a politician, and I believe our government, including our local government, should play a limited role in our lives. The less infringement into our lives, the better. We have many challenges ahead and I will try to approach each challenge with common sense and good judgment. If this is in alignment with what you believe, we have something in common.
Response 2: I would like to bring back the proper democratic function of our borough council so that all borough business is discussed among all the elected officials, not a quorum of unethical operatives. Please refer to the minutes/public records published by the borough over the last several years. You will see a pattern of nepotistic decisions and motions which are not in the town’s best interest.
This is what happens when the same individuals remain in office for years and years and appoint their friends to join the council. This has been an issue for many years and continues to fester. I would urge all Topton residents to consider all new council members. We must restore trust and proper conduct. Without a full group of community focused individuals on our council, we will never be able to move forward to make Topton the best it can be.
Kunkel did not provide responses.
Hassler did not provide responses.
Stoudt did not provide responses.
Carol Cook, 74.
Background: I have varied career experiences. I have been a school teacher, a computer specialist and systems designer at headquarters, Department of the Army, and I have been a small business owner. I have volunteered for numerous groups and organizations. I truly enjoy helping others. I have developed strong leadership skills.
Response 1: Although I have lived in and loved Topton for 21 years, previously I have lived in numerous locations along the East Coast. Each community is unique. I learned a lot about how the different local governments functioned. I have attended Topton Borough Council meetings for a long time and have been discouraged with a lot that I observed. I finally decided it is time for me to stop observing and to give my time and energy to make some changes to benefit all the residents of Topton. I am a creative problem solver with very strong logic. I am an independent thinker. I saw four council members often push through their agenda with the same 4-to-3 majority vote; friends supporting each other regardless of any other considerations than supporting a buddy. It is time for new council members who will put Topton residents first, even if it means disagreeing with friends on the council. I have many ideas to improve life in Topton, if given the chance.
Response 2: High on the list of important issues are the taxes and expenses of living in Topton. Not exclusively, senior citizens have had to sell the family home because they could no longer afford the town they dearly love. I believe we can lower taxes without eliminating necessary and popular services. We need activities for teens who do not like team sports. I would like to see all residents, from youngest to the oldest, be supported. We have a safety issue with some school children walking to school when they have to climb snow banks and walk in the street. We have spent too much and need to put the reins on the checkbook while still enhancing life for all residents. I believe we have many in town who would volunteer to help improve quality of life. They need to be located and organized. I have seen this done elsewhere; I am sure it would work here. I am a fiscal conservative. I’m tired of paying taxes for the interest on the debt that we owe.
Party: No affiliation.
Polinsky did not provide responses.
Source: Berkshire mont