Supervisor candidates differ on hopes for Harris Township

jvanderk@centredaily.comOctober 28, 2013 

WomenVoters08

Franklin Harden and Christopher Lee are running for Harris Township supervisor.

ABBY DREY — CDT file photo Buy Photo

  • Franklin Harden, 62

    Occupation: Sales at Lezzer Lumber; former Lezzer manager

    Political office: None

    Education: Economics degree from Penn State; training in nuclear power in U.S. Navy

    Family: Wife, Amy; two sons

    Christopher Lee, 64

    Occupation: CEO of Boal Mansion Museum in Boalsburg

    Political office: Harris Township supervisor twice previously; former chairman of Centre Regional Planning Commission; previously served on Harris Township Planning Commission; former chairman of Centre County Metropolitan Planning Organization

    Education: Undergraduate degree from Princeton University

    Family: Three children

A political newcomer who has lived in Harris Township for several decades and a former supervisor active in Boalsburg cultural activities will face off for a Board of Supervisors seat.

The seat Franklin Harden or Christopher Lee will fill is vacant after incumbent Cliff Warner, up for re-election this year, didn’t make it past the primary.

Harden is running as a Republican and Lee a Democrat.

The two have expressed different views related to issues such as growth and the completion of safety improvements to U.S. Route 322 at Potters Mills.

Harden said he hears from residents that they want to maintain the township as it is, with the village and some development around it, but mostly agricultural and forest land.

“I think growth is really on everybody’s mind,” he said, adding that he thinks growth of the township’s tax base will help continue to finance local services. “It’s a delicate balance.”

Harden said he doesn’t think a big shopping center will be on the table and that the township has done well over the years in managing growth. He said he’s heard people say they want a “little more” development so they don’t have to run to the other side of town.

But Harden says he doesn’t have an agenda.

“The only thing I will promise them is they won’t always agree with me,” he said to residents.

Lee talked at length about the differences between he and Harden.

While he agreed that residents like the quality of life in Harris, he disagreed that growth is needed to increase the tax base.

“Agricultural land has a greater net yield because it requires so little service from government agencies,” he said. “My vision is to make Harris Township’s quality of life and its rural character a top priority with growth.”

Lee also explained he wants to “expedite” a decision on the Route 322 project, which awaits state funding to continue. While Harden said at a League of Women Voters of Centre County forum that the township should urge legislators to move it forward, Lee advocates for the board naming the project as a priority through the county Metropolitan Planning Organization’s transportation planning process.

“Highways don’t just move cars and trucks, they shape communities,” Lee said. “People are concerned about 322.”

Lee said he’s long been an advocate for coordinating transportation and land use planning and that not everyone looks that far forward.

Jessica VanderKolk can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @jVanReporter.

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