A vacancy board hearing to appoint a new member to the Bellefonte Borough Council has been scheduled, but that doesn’t guarantee there will be a resolution.
Assistant borough Manager Don Holderman said the hearing will begin at 6:30 p.m. Monday. There will not be a council meeting afterward, because the borough voted 5-2 Aug. 4 to cancel it.
Council members Randall Brachbill and Renee Brown voted against the cancellation, citing an opportunity to get a new council member acclimated to the board during a slow month.
The council did not appoint a new member at the Aug. 4 meeting because members could not reach a majority vote for any one candidate.
The four candidates — Brian Walker, Claudia Wilson, Mike Scott and Sheila Stever — will have an opportunity to speak in front of the vacancy board before votes are cast.
Walker said he has considered working in the community, but did not discover the right role at the right time until he learned about the vacancy in July.
“I’ve kicked around the idea of public service for years, and I think everyone does at some point,” Walker said.
“With the vacancy left open, I felt my professional skill sets matched up nicely with what is happening in Bellefonte.”
Walker is an engineer with Herbert, Rowland and Grubic.
“I’ve worked on everything from master planning, where you sit with your client and talk to them about their goals in two years to five years, to construction budgets and figuring out realistic deadlines,” Walker said.
“It’s kind of a holistic look at the life cycle of the building.”
Walker, who grew up in Pleasant Gap, said he wants to boost Bellefonte’s economy and preserve its history and safety.
“There’s so many things to like about Bellefonte,” Walker said.
“It was a great place to run around as a kid, a safe place, and now that my family lives on Beaver Street, I want the same thing for my daughter and other kids.”
Stever is the only candidate to have previously run for council. She finished third to current council members Barry Spicer and Joseph Beigle for two North Ward seats in the last election. She also is the only Bellefonte native among the candidates.
She applied for the vacant seat for the same reasons she ran in November — to preserve Bellefonte’s historic architecture and develop its economy.
“I think we can capitalize on our history and architecture, and there’s a lot of businesses like The Great Mish Mosh, the Garman Theatre and many others that seem to be the future of Bellefonte,” Stever said. “There are a lot of encouraging things happening in Bellefonte right now, and I know there are obstacles, but I think we can capitalize on what we already have and add to it.”
Stever said it’s a good time to get involved in the community, especially given the amount of time she spends downtown.
“I plan to be involved,” Stever said.
“I shop downtown and I work downtown. I think it would be refreshing for businesses to know the council is behind them, and they are, and I think I can add a lot of support to that.”
Wilson, the only retired candidate, said her dedication to her career kept her from running for public office in the past.
She was a teacher for 25 years and worked in business management in the 10 years before she began teaching.
“I was teaching, and 90 percent of my time was involved in teaching, and I didn’t have the time and energy to do any other community involvement,” Wilson said.
She pinpointed several challenges for the borough.
“There are several large issues for the borough,” Wilson said.
“One is the tax base, because there is no more room for the borough to expand. Second is probably the preservation and continuation of our architecture and building. We’ve worked hard on fire-prevention policies, because our architecture is part of what makes Bellefonte an interesting and exciting town. Another issue is our ailing water system, which is a constant problem.”
Wilson said the skills she developed throughout her two careers would be assets in improving the borough.
“I would not say I have only been a teacher, because I’ve also worked with small business,” Wilson said.
“I’ve been a business manager, done bookkeeping and accounting, fundraising and grant writing. I think a combination of teaching and working with small businesses makes me a good candidate, and having experience in different realms is important.”
Scott moved to Bellefonte for its beautiful architecture and stayed because he fell in love with the small town.
He said the town’s beauty is its greatest asset and that you don’t have to sacrifice architecture for economic development.
“I don’t think you have to compromise the history of Bellefonte to grow a successful economy in Bellefonte, and if anything, I think the architecture and beauty of Bellefonte is its greatest asset,” Scott said. “It’s an asset that should be promoted.”
Scott said he would like to continue to develop the economy in downtown Bellefonte.
“I really think the development of downtown is where we can improve,” Scott said.
“If you walked downtown and walked down the street, you’ll notice there are many empty storefronts. I think I can add a little perspective to the downtown area.”
Scott said his career in banking would benefit the council and the community.
“I’ve worked a lot with small businesses on the lending side, and I work with people who want to start a business and who want to grow a business,” Scott said.
“I understand what they need to grow and to become successful.”