No candidates file for Toms Brook mayor

Toms Brook Mayor Phil Fauber stands outside the old Toms Brook School Apartments on Friday. He says finding someone to renovate this town landmark was one of the highlights of his term as mayor. Fauber steps down from his post in June, at the end of his term, after 16 years as mayor. Rich Cooley/Daily

Toms Brook needs a new mayor soon but no one filed to appear on the ballot for the May 3 election.

Longtime Mayor Philip Fauber doesn’t plan to run for a fifth term in the May 3 general election. His fourth term ends June 30.

No one had filed necessary papers with the Shenandoah County General Registrar by the Tuesday deadline to run for the seat, leaving it up to a write-in candidate to fill the vacancy.

“Well, I’ve been trying to get people but I’m not sure,” Fauber said this week. “I hope somebody steps forward.”

Fauber and his wife Connie are nearing 70 and plan to move to a new, smaller home in Woodstock by the end of the year, the mayor said. The couple had lived in Woodstock before they moved to Toms Brook.

Phil Fauber

Fauber has served the town of less than 300 residents for almost a quarter-century – first as a councilman and then almost 16 years as mayor.

“I thought about running and then we decided we needed to make this move,” Fauber recalled. “It wouldn’t be good to run just to have three or four months as mayor and then go through another election so hopefully somebody will step forward.

“Of course in a small town your numbers are limited as to trying to get people to step forward,” Fauber added.

Town Council seats also are up for election and two longtime members, Kevin Johnson and Leda Stickler, did not file to run. The other four council members filed to run for re-election. The remaining two seats would need to be filled by write-in candidates as well.

The mayor of a small community such as Toms Brook does more than preside over meetings. Fauber compared his job to some extent to that of Edinburg’s mayor, Daniel Harshman, who also works as the municipality’s town manager.

“We’re just too small to have a town manager,” Fauber said.

The Toms Brook mayor receives an annual stipend of $1,000 to conduct meetings and perform other leadership and management tasks. Fauber has had to sign off on zoning matters and other needs that require an elected official’s approval.

“Mostly I work out of the house because everybody’s got my number,” Fauber said.

The town’s one-room office is located in the Toms Brook Volunteer Fire Department building. Toms Brook runs on a budget of about $30,000. The town charges a real estate tax rate of 10 cents per $100 – a levy that Fauber said hasn’t changed at least since he’s served as mayor. The town maintains its sidewalks and most roads and collects trash.

Toms Brook went through major changes in the past 10 years. The town set up its first zoning regulations and created a Planning Commission. The town leaders also began a partnership with the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission to develop Toms Brook’s first comprehensive plan. Stephanie Langton serves as the town’s planner and helps with planning and zoning, Fauber said.

Establishing zoning regulations gave the town more control over development in Toms Brook, Fauber said.

“Before that it was kind of like the wild west – anything goes,” Fauber said.

The town also saw the restoration and renovation of the old Toms Brook School that People Inc. turned into housing for low-income residents. The opening of the apartment facility attracted about 1,500 people, many of whom, like Fauber, had attended the school. Now the building serves as a centerpiece for the town, Fauber said.

A Dollar General is under construction next to the Toms Brook School Apartments that will help generate revenue for the town. The project “fell into our hands” when Dollar General approached the town and proposed to build one of its stores. Fauber said he expects Dollar General to become the town’s biggest revenue-generator. The store likely will open this spring, Fauber said.

“We’ve done a lot for a little town in the last, I guess, 10 or 15 years I reckon,” Fauber said. I’d like to see somebody step up and maybe with some new ideas, a little bit younger maybe.”