As the end of the Bucks County commissioners race approaches with the Nov. 3 election, candidates have been appearing throughout the county to become more acquainted with voters.
Last Wednesday night, three of the four candidates attended a political expo at Ann’s Choice, a retirement community in Warminster.
The three attending candidates were Republicans Charles Martin and Rob Loughery and Democrat Diane Ellis-Marseglia. All three are incumbents.
The other Democratic candidate, Brian Galloway, was not in attendance. The Bristol Township School District educator and Falls Township supervisor had a separate commitment in Falls, Marseglia said.
Each offered their vision for another term.
Martin, who has held his commissioner seat since 1995, said that keeping the budget in line is a main concern of his.
“We have to continue what we’re doing financially,” he said. “There’s always pressure to increase services or spend more money.”
Another ongoing initiative, he said, is the renovation and reuse of the old Bucks County Courthouse in Doylestown. That building has been vacant since the January opening of the eight-story Bucks County Justice Center at 100 North Main St.
“When that’s done, we’ll be able to sell five buildings, putting them back on the tax rolls, stop paying significant rent — almost $1 million per year, which we’re currently paying — and we’ll have all our employees working in two buildings that are across the street from each other,” Martin said.
That project is expected to take three to four years to complete.
“We’re going to shrink the size of our footprint, bring people in, get out of leases, sell buildings and save more money,” Loughery, who is running alongside Martin, added.
Loughery focused more on the pair’s economic track record. Residents haven’t seen a tax increase in eight of the last nine years, he said.
“We’ve run a very strong operation from a financial standpoint and still delivered on the services needed for the community,” Loughery continued. “Jobs, workforce development and economic development are big components of things we’ve done that people, Republican, Democrat or independent, want to see happening.”
Marseglia, who is running for her third term, has different priorities for the next four years.
“I’m the minority commissioner,” Marseglia said. “There’s things that I would like to do that I have not been able to do without having a majority position.”
One of her top priorities is taking on the heroin problem in Bucks County. She said that, last year, 137 people without healthcare turned to the county for help with addiction, and were turned away due to lack of funding.
“There’s no excuse for that,” she said. “We built a $100 million courthouse last year and we let 137 people not have treatment, and I have to go to sleep at night. That doesn’t really work for me.”
Her focus will also be on bringing higher-quality jobs to Bucks County, specifically in Lower Bucks, where the need is more urgent.
Democrats hold a slight edge in terms of voter registration, but the commissioner elections typically yield two Republicans and one Democrat as winners. Marseglia noted that this will not affect her campaign.
“It’s me and Brian versus them. We’re a team,” she said. “There have been times in the past when Democrats have fought each other for that position, but we stopped doing that eight years ago.”