Current, former supervisors face off for Walker Township seat

bmilazzo@centredaily.comOctober 25, 2013 

  • James Heckman

    Age: 64

    Occupation: Dairy farmer

    Political offices held: Walker Township supervisor

    Barry Kerstetter

    Age: 64

    Occupation: Assistant forestry and nursery manager at Rockview state prison

    Political office held: Walker Township supervisor

    Family: Wife, Deborah Kerstetter

Walker Township residents will see two familiar names on the ballot for supervisor come Nov. 5.

Current Walker Township Supervisor James Heckman said he thinks that the past 12 years in office make him qualified to run for another six-year term. He is running in the Republican slot against Democratic challenger Barry Kerstetter, who said he decided to join the race after a number of people asked him to do so. Kerstetter previously held the position for 18 years.

Heckman was elected as Walker Township supervisor in 2001, defeating Kerstetter.

“I think growth of the township in terms of development slowed because of the economy, but there are still homes being built,” Heckman said. “Development is important, but maintaining what we have is also a priority.”

One-lane bridges on Rodgers Road and Hoy Road are in need of repair, he said.

Every other year, an engineer inspects the bridges in the township. Each time an inspection is made, the weight limit on those bridges is reduced, Heckman said.

“There is only so much we can do with our budget,” he said. “It’s getting to the point that something needs to get done. They carry some traffic, and it’s a concern.”

Heckman, 64, a lifelong resident of Walker Township, said he is invested in the community.

“I wouldn’t say I’m more qualified, but I think I’m dedicated to this community and have done a good job,” he said. “I’m only trying to do the best I can.”

Heckman said he is a longtime dairy farmer for Guiser Spring Farms — a family-run farm that was established more than 100 years ago. He is also a 46-year veteran of the Walker Township Volunteer Fire Company and was fire chief for seven years.

Kerstetter, 64, also a lifelong resident of the township, said that after taking time off, he was ready to join the race.

“I was the supervisor for 18 years and took a long time off,” he said. “I’m ready to give it another shot.”

Priorities include trying to get a natural gas line into the Nittany Valley region.

“I think someone needs to ask the question to see if it’s feasible,” Kerstetter said about a gas line. “Development is important.”

Kerstetter works at Rockview State Correctional Institution as an assistant forestry and nursery manager.

“I just want to do what’s best for this area,” Kerstetter said.

Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @ M11azzo.

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