By Alex Bridges
TOMS BROOK -- Republican candidates seeking bids to run for the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors shared their views with fellow party members at an event Monday.
The Republican Women of Shenandoah County held a forum for party members to meet and hear from candidates seeking nominations by local GOP to run in the November election. About a dozen people attended the event led by the group's president Karen Kwiatkowski.
Former School Board member Steven Shaffer and retired county jail captain Cindy Bailey seek the nomination to run for the District 4 seat held by Supervisor Sharon Baroncelli.
Marsha Shruntz, a retired school bus driver with Frederick County Schools, is seeking the nomination to run for the District 5 seat held by Vice Chairman Dennis Morris, who did not attend the forum. Kwiatkowski told the audience Morris said he had a meeting that conflicted with the event.
Each person seeking the Republican Party nomination spoke a few minutes about themselves and why they want to run for the board.
"Our taxes are no longer being used to support the county government we want but are being used to buy a whole lot of things we don't want," Bailey said during her introduction. "What are we getting in return? A whole lot bigger tax bill."
The county and the board should focus on creating jobs, Bailey said.
"This board has not encouraged business growth in our county nor new business growth in our county," Bailey said.
Shaffer told the group that he has invested himself in the community and has been a "man of action" during his 20 years as an entrepreneur in the county. Shaffer said he has started several businesses, but also noted his experiences during the economic downturn.
"I see the big picture," Shaffer said. "I see options that many other people don't see and I pursue those options - those options to fill greater needs within the community through business ventures and just to make this community a better place by bringing folks together."
Shruntz said she would vote against any increase in taxes.
"We don't have a revenue problem here; we have a spending problem," she told the crowd.
Shruntz said that if elected, she would establish subcommittees of board members and other residents.
Shruntz and Bailey both spoke of their intentions to bring transparency to the board. Shruntz said she would bring items discussed in closed session out in the open.
During a question-and-answer period, audience members asked candidates for their views on a variety of topics such as large, capital projects -- the regional jail and the Edinburg School -- as well as taxes and spending.
Audience members asked Shaffer his position on the regional jail and the Edinburg School. Shaffer told the group he needed more information on the jail issue to form an opinion. He expressed support for the Edinburg School project, and noted that the county system has long needed a way to educate certain special needs students. Bailey and Shruntz have both said they opposed the project.
One member of the audience asked whether those candidates who openly expressed opposition to raising taxes would stick to their promises. Likewise, candidates were asked how the would cut spending. Bailey said she would give raises to county government staff as proposed in the fiscal 2014 budget, and added that she would curtail the county's borrowing of funds to pay for large projects.
One woman asked candidates about the county's economic development efforts, prompted by Bailey's comments that a committee formed for such a purpose doesn't meet.
"I'm not sure where that is at the moment and as a businessman I've had to downsize my business at least twice because of the economy," Shaffer said. "So a little help would have been appreciated."
Kwiatkowski asked the others about the committee, noting the importance of the panel. Bailey said from her research that the committee, which includes Baroncelli and Supervisor David Ferguson, met once in 2012 and does not meet again until later this coming year.
"To my knowledge they have done nothing to address the joblessness around here," Bailey said.
Party members will pick delegates at precinct meetings on Thursday. Those delegates will be able to vote at the county party's convention in late April.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org