Meet the Candidates: Clearfield County Commissioner

(GantDaily Graphic)

Hello and welcome to GantDaily’s “Meet the Candidates”, Clearfield County Commissioner edition.

We asked the candidates running for commissioner the following questions:

-Why Do You Want the Position?

-What qualifies you to be a Clearfield County Commissioner? How would you distinguish yourself from the other candidates running for this position?

-What would your top priorities be as a Clearfield County Commissioner?

-What are your plans to stimulate economic growth in Clearfield County? What business/industry would you like to see develop in the county?

-Eight candidates are slated to run in the Primary Election in May. Of those, who would you select to sit on a board of commissioners with you? Why?

Candidates who replied or replied by our deadline are listed alphabetically.

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J. Barry Abbott Sr. (GantDaily File Photo)

J. Barry Abbott Sr.

Age: 60

Hometown: Philipsburg, PA

Republican candidate

Incumbent: No

I was born and raised in Philipsburg, where I taught, coached and was the athletic director at the Philipsburg-Osceola Area High School for 18 years. I attended Clarion University for my B.S., Penn State University for  my Masters degree in education administration, and St. Bonaventure University for my K-12 principals certification.

I retired as a classroom teacher with 37 years in public education from the DuBois Area School District.

I am married to Karen Abbott, an R.N. working at the DuBois Regional Medical Center Emergency Room.  We have been married for 39 years in April.

We have three grown children, six grandchildren.

I was awarded “Teacher of the Year” by the Clearfield County Conservation Group, Sports Official of the Year in Pennsylvania for Baseball, Division I Women’s Basketball Official, and PIAA Official in Football, Basketball, Baseball, and Track. I have been a sports official for over 40 years and have worked many play-off and state title games.

I am a member of the Philipsburg Elks, Athletic Club, Life member of the Bald Eagle Fraternal Order of Police, Life Member of the Hope Fire Company, The SOI Club. I was the past President of the Moshannon Valley YMCA and a past Treasure Lake Board Member.  I am also the owner of a small business; Abbott Investigation and Courier Service.

1) Why do you want the position?

The most important thing that a commissioner does is stay in touch with constituents.

Daily, a commissioner speaks with citizens about what they want. A particular vote on a particular issue, a complaint about taxes, a problem with a sidewalk or a street light, are just a few things that commissioners address daily. 

To effectively carry out the role of commissioner requires making decisions. To make good decisions, a commissioner needs good information. Gathering the necessary data and statistics requires time by the commissioner or staff. 

An effective commissioner educates citizens about the need for increases to continue service delivery as they expect and to maintain the quality of life in the county. 

Generally, what spurs people to become involved in local politics is a specific issue. Once they have become involved and learned how to work in the local political process they often discover that they have something to offer the community, and are interested in its future. 

An effective county commissioner can leave a legacy of good works and make an impact on people’s lives. It is the closest level of government to the people and one that provides the greatest challenge and creates leaders for the future.

 2) What are your plans to stimulate economic growth in Clearfield County? What business/industry would you like to see develop in the county?

  1. I will not refer county business to an outside firm owned by or employing a commission member or his family.
  2. I have no ownership of or employment in a family business which could tempt me to show favoritism in assigning count contracts.
  3. I will be a full time commissioner for Clearfield  County.  This will be my only employment.
  4. I will keep department heads informed of all county related matters with bi weekly staff meetings.
  5. I will keep political maneuvering out of the courthouse and out of county offices.
  6. I will work diligently to bring Clearfield County to the forefront in local, state and national matters by networking with other willing government officials.
  7. I will work to make each community feel included in the local government process by hosting monthly town meetings in various communities throughout Clearfield County.
  8. I will open a satellite office in the most populated region of our county
  9. I will not tolerate the misuse of or unapproved appropriation of county funds.
  10. I will reach out to fellow commissioners and other elected government officials across the state to exchange ideas concerning the growth and development of our region.
  11. I will be available 24/7 to constituents to discuss and solve rather than ignore county problems.

3) What would your top priorities be as a Clearfield County Commissioner?

  • Fiscal Spending Responsibility maintaining control over budget, curtailing unnecessary expenditures
  • Making sure the employees of the county are properly awarded a fair and honest contract with an openness to discuss contract items in a fair and impartial manner without opting to arbitration
  •  Work with Veteran Organizations to maintain stability, accountability for non-discriminatory, compassionate treatment, and treated in a professional manner
  • Ensure that Clearfield County 911 system operates effectively and efficiently
  • That Clearfield County Commissioners Office will not engage in any type of bias nor hire based on nepotism
  • Work with local government agencies to see that our townships, villages, towns, or cities gets treated equally 

All six of these priorities start with the word respect. Your next county commissioners need to be a respected individual of Clearfield County. 

Your next Commissioner needs to be a problem solver without offering senseless rhetoric.

My first priority is to set goals for economic goals that surround the Marcellus Gas exploration and make sure our most prized natural resource (clean, fresh, water) is protected. 

4) What are your plans to stimulate economic growth in Clearfield County? What business/industry would you like to see develop in the county?

Clearfield County‘s timber and coal, was and continues to fuel our nation, and help build homes. Now our nation turns to us again to help heat homes, fuel our vehicles, and help the job market through Marcellus Shale drilling. Each of our fossil fuels has taken our natural resources out of our county and developed job and economic development far away from Clearfield County. Clearfield County needs to learn from our past and look to the future when taping into this expansive gas resource.  Why can’t the citizens of Clearfield County be a benefactor of this natural gas boom? Why can we not take two or more of these drill sites and offer free or very inexpensive gas to our county residences, especially when they taking it from our backyard? These two questions should headline each candidate that seeks the Commissioners position. The hard part is the solution. Your next Clearfield County Commissioner needs to be a problem solver, problem seeker, not just part of the problem offering senseless rhetoric. Drilling for the Marcellus Shale is but one side of the coin, the other is for the county to seek reimbursement for the resources and monies leaving and not staying within our county borders.

5) Eight candidates are slated to run in the Primary Election in May. Of those, who would you select to sit on a board of commissioners with you? Why?

During the Primary campaign I have heard most of my commissioner competitors’ speak at various functions. I would be remising if Barry Abbott would endorse one candidate over another. It is imperative that the voters of Clearfield County have the privilege to endorse two Republicans and two Democrats to compete for three seats in the general election.

 It is then the elected Commissioners to put party bias behind them and get to work for the betterment of all Clearfield County.

 The next Commissioners need to have the courage to set rigorous goals that outline the future of Clearfield County over the next four years. These are attainable goals that will set our county apart from the other 67 within our Commonwealth. The next Commissioners must be able to do more with less. If elected I intended to follow my conservative Republican nature, making sure that if projects are implemented, funds must be clearly reviewed and monies distributed in a proper manner.

I would challenge each of my fellow commissioners to think outside the box, look for solutions where no other has, then have the resourcefulness to follow our written guidelines without interruption or outside influence. We will need to be good at listening, less on senseless rhetoric, always keeping the best interest of Clearfield County in the forefront.

Finally, if elected, I would be the elected Commissioner from outside the confines of Clearfield Borough or Lawrence Township. I would make positive steps to make sure all villages, townships, boroughs  and cities are represented in a fair and equitable manner.

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Mark McCracken (GantDaily File Photo)

Mark B. McCracken 

Age: 47 

Democratic candidate

Incumbent: Yes

Currently resides in Lawrence Township with his wife Kelly and daughter Amanda.   Graduate of Clearfield High School and the Clearfield County Career and Technology Center / information technology in 1981 and ICM School of Business/Information Technology, Pittsburgh PA.    

1) Why do you want the position?

I have the knowledge and experience to effectively work as part of a 3 member board to manage the day to day operations of county government.   Throughout my time as county commissioner, I’ve continued to study and learn about the issues important to Clearfield County.   I feel I know how to fairly treat the employees who work for the county, how to work with other elected officials at the municipal, county, state and federal levels, and most important, how to serve and work as a full time commissioner for the citizens of Clearfield County.      

2)What qualifies you to be a Clearfield County Commissioner?   How would you distinguish yourself from other candidates running for this office?

I’ve worked for the past 23 years in county government, serving for 16 years as director of Information Technology and the last seven years as county commissioner. I also worked in information technology in private industry for almost five years and I served for 10 years on the Clearfield Area School District Board of Directors.

I feel voters can distinguish me from the other candidates based on my solid record and experience. I’ve been entrusted by my peers with leadership positions regionally and statewide including as chairman of the Information Technology Committee and member of the Executive Board of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP), as chairman of the Pennsylvania Counties Health Insurance Purchasing Cooperative Board since 2008, as chairman of the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission Board in 2010 and as chairman of the Penn-Ag Democrats since 2009. 

Since taking office in 2004, there are many innovative ideas that I’ve worked on to make county government more efficient and to help our communities and citizens. Beginning in 2004, I worked with commissioners from Clinton and McKean counties along with a health insurance consultant, to form the Pennsylvania Counties Health Insurance Purchasing Cooperative which has grown to over 20 member counties.    Our involvement in the cooperative has seen over $3 million in refunded premiums to Clearfield County and helps control employee health insurance costs. We also established the very successful Tourism Grant Program that provides funding from the Hotel Tax to community events and businesses all over Clearfield County.  During the current term, we added a Community Development Specialist in the Planning Department to help our municipalities with planning, grant applications and other funding options.    These are just a few examples of the many projects and initiatives I’ve been a part of as a county commissioner.

3) What would your top priorities be as a Clearfield County Commissioner?

I want to continue working on upgrades to emergency services that are vital to the citizens of Clearfield County.    During my first term, we replaced and enhanced the 911 radio communication system used to dispatch emergency responders.    Now, we are underway with a project to place Mobile Data Terminals (MDT’s) in fire trucks and other emergency response vehicles. These projects, along with ongoing technical upgrades within the 911 center itself will help keep the citizens of Clearfield County safer with the quickest possible access to emergency services.    I will continue supporting technology enhancements throughout county government offices to provide quality services to our citizens and businesses. 

As member of the board of commissioners I will always place a priority on working as a team on all issues with a special emphasis placed on economic and community development projects. While the development of new business and jobs is always a priority, we need to continue placing a similar priority on retaining our existing businesses and jobs. Finally, it is important that we continue to promote community development/redevelopment and infrastructure improvements in municipalities throughout Clearfield County.   

4) What are your plans to stimulate economic growth in Clearfield County?  What business/industries would you like to see develop in the county?

I plan to continue working to get the greatest economic impact we can from the development of the Marcellus shale with expectations that DEP and other agencies will enforce regulations to protect our environment and water supplies. We are already seeing local and regional economic development activity creating jobs that support the drilling industry including welding, trucking and services to workers at well sites. Bradford County, which currently has the most drilling activity in the Marcellus region, is showing job growth as their most recent unemployment rate stands at 6.2 percent compared to 8.5 percent at the same time last year.  

We also know that other businesses associated with the gas industry will be locating into the region. These businesses will likely include manufacturing plants to build storage tanks and other machined parts used in drilling that will require warehousing and delivery/transport jobs. It is also likely that we will see treatment plants constructed to treat contaminated water used in the fracing process. My personal goal is to promote construction of treatment plants that remove 100 percent of the contaminants and return clean water back to our streams. I’ve seen presentations from companies that have this technology right now, but it is a more expensive process that the gas industry won’t utilize unless they are mandated to do so by regulatory agencies.

Economic growth from drilling and related industries will lead to growth in retail and services related businesses all over Clearfield County. Specifically, the Clearfield area needs a full service supermarket and I’ve been contacting supermarket chains on a regular basis urging them to consider locating in the Clearfield area. We also need to continue supporting the growth of small locally owned businesses like wineries, bed and breakfasts, restaurants and retail specialty shops that attract visitors to our communities.

5) Eight candidates are slated to run in the primary election this May. Of those, who would you select to sit on the board of commissioners with you?  Why?

All the candidates running for county commissioner possess unique skills and backgrounds and it is up to the voters to decide which three they want to serve in the next term. One of my strengths is that I can successfully work with the people I’m elected to serve with, whoever they are. I will give the same 100 percent effort regardless if I am serving in a majority role with another Democrat as I did during my first term or, if I am the minority commissioner serving with two Republicans as I have during the current term. I will caution voters to make sure they support the candidates who understand the job as county commissioner and recognize that it is a full time responsibility, not something you do for a few hours a week.  

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Paul "PJ" Monella (GantDaily File Photo)

Paul “PJ” Monella

Hometown: Morrisdale

Democrat candidate

Incumbent: No

Paul “PJ” Monella is a life-long resident of Clearfield County, having been born in Clearfield and raised in Morris Township. He is the son of Paul J. Monella (formerly of DuBois) and Ellen Weaver Monella (formerly of Clearfield). He is the grandson of the late Carl Monella and Jean Monella of DuBois and Jack and Margaret Anne Weaver of Philipsburg. Monella has attended West Branch Area High School where he was a student school board representative, a member of the National Honor Society, a Teen Court attorney and in the top 10 percent of his class.

1) Why do you want the position?

Monella is seeking the position of Clearfield County Commissioner for two reasons: he believes that our times call for a citizen-servant that will end the political gridlock and get back to doing the people’s business, and that Clearfield County is facing 21st century problems, that require 21st century solutions and Monella is the 21st century candidate. As a county commissioner, Monella will be representative of all, and beholden to none. Although he is a proud Democrat, he feels that the politics must be put aside to represent the people’s best interests. He feels that the philosophy of representing the people’s interests should go above and beyond political and special interests. As a candidate new to county politics, Monella feels that he can bring a fresh face and fresh ideas to the table to solve Clearfield County’s problems.

2) What qualifies you to be a Clearfield County Commissioner? How would you distinguish yourself from the other candidates running for this position?

What makes Monella qualified for the position of county commissioner first and foremost is that he is a citizen servant.   That is to say, the sole focus of his tenure as a commissioner will be the business of the people, not his own, not that of special interests, and not that of partisan politics.  He is proud to say that his candidacy has been funded solely by individual citizens of varying socio-economic and political backgrounds, mirroring the diverse nature of a commissioner’s constituency.  This frees Monella from the divisiveness of special interest politics as usual so that he can act as an independent voice for all the people of Clearfield County.

3) What would your top priorities be as a Clearfield County Commissioner?

Since making the decision to run for commissioner last June, Monella has been traveling the width and breadth of the county, talking to voters and municipal officials about their concerns and perspectives. Resultant of these conversations, he has identified three main areas of concern.  The first is tackling the double-digit unemployment rate in Clearfield County. Monella appreciates the efforts of the county’s delegation to the general assembly in working to create jobs for the people, but feels that the county commissioners must assume a far more active role to ensure success. Monella states, “Getting people back to work is a top priority. Not only must we get folks back to work, we must provide them with family sustaining jobs.”

Next on Monella’s list of priorities is that of working with local and state leaders on the issue of gas drilling. Monella sees the potential benefit that gas drilling brings and hopes that the state government will be convinced of placing a severance tax on the gas drilling industry. As a commissioner, Monella would work with the general assembly and the governor to find common ground on this issue, balancing the benefit to local municipalities and the opportunity to the gas industry.

The final issue Monella sees is fiscal responsibility with county funds. He points out that the county must be held to the standard that families are: one cannot spend more money than what they bring in. He points out that the county must keep its spending under control and that, with careful financial planning and guidance from the county controller, the county commissioners should be able to lower taxes more frequently than just in election years.

4) What are your plans to stimulate economic growth in Clearfield County? What business/industry would you like to see develop in the county?

Seeing that jobs are Monella’s number one priority, he has a plan to get people back to work in Clearfield County and encourage growth. First, Monella feels that the best way to strengthen the county’s communities is by reinvesting in Main Street programs. This encourages growth in downtown areas and will encourage new businesses to seek downtown locations; all the while citizens and tourists will be encouraged to visit downtown areas. Monella feels that if the people want jobs to be created, the county government must give an incentive for businesses to grow and flourish. He also points out that upon election, Monella would like to hold meetings with successful business leaders from across the county to discuss how to stimulate growth. He feels that if these folks were successful enough to live through many years of hard economic times, they are good enough to advise the commissioners on how to stimulate job creation and growth. Monella would also like to see the technology industry make its way into the county. He relates to the fact that due to the county’s proximity to Penn State and Lock Haven Universities, that technology jobs are things of the future and that the citizens have the ability and desire to grab a hold of the 21st century and the jobs that come along with it.

5) Eight candidates are slated to run in the Primary Election in May. Of those, who would you select to sit on a board of commissioners with you? Why?

Monella states, “Each person in this race brings to the job their own experiences and skill set. I could not choose an ideal board of commissioners because each of us brings something to the table that will help Clearfield County forward. Democrat and Republican alike, we will, each of us, need to park our egos and affiliations at the courthouse door in order to successfully address the issues of our common constituency.”

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Rex D. Read (GantDaily File Photo)

Rex Read

Democrat candidate

Incumbent: No

1) Why do you want the position?

Clearfield County is my home.  I feel strongly that I have the ability to make a difference as commissioner and the responsibility to try.

2) What qualifies you to be a Clearfield County Commissioner? How would you distinguish yourself from the other candidates running for this position?

I have over 25 years of business management experience. Dealing with the directing of staff, the creating of budgets and their goals, and meeting those goals was a day-to-day occurrence. I have served four years as County Commissioner, was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Lawrence Township Board of Supervisors and currently serve on the township Zoning Hearing Board. The one trait I have always brought forward is a common sense prospective for dealing with whatever issue that arose. I DO NOT seek this position as a stepping stone to higher office.

3) What would your top priorities be as a Clearfield County Commissioner?

Restoring fiscal responsibility to the commissioner’s office will be my top priority.  It is irresponsible for government to spend more than it takes in. Using reserve to balance a budget may look good on paper but in reality it is not sound fiscal management. As more and more state and federal funding sources dry up, local government will have very few choices, cut spending, reduce services or raise taxes. Not easy choices. I would look at all expenses, looking for reductions rather than just taking the easy way by dipping into savings accounts or raising taxes. I would work closely with all row offices and department heads to explore and implement cost saving strategies. One person cannot do this alone.  It would need to be a collective effort by all segments of the county government.

4) What are your plans to stimulate economic growth in Clearfield County? What business/industry would you like to see develop in the county?

Elected officials like to talk about family sustaining jobs, but they don’t create jobs unless they are spending your tax dollars. Elected officials should, for the most part, stay out of the way. Clearfield County is blessed with Economic Development agencies that cover all areas of the county. Talented professionals and volunteers work on a daily basis to stimulate growth. As an elected commissioner my role is a support position.  Help when and where it is needed, provide contacts. Support, not drive the agenda. I would not have the county act as a bank and finance the sale of any county asset as with the recent announcement for the sale of the Multi Service Center.  That type of business should be left to the experts.

Whether we like it or not we are in the middle of the Marcellus shale gas drilling region.  We must take advantage of the spin-off opportunities that present themselves.  However, we must pressure our State and Federal officials to not allow this resource to be sold off to China or Europe but instead keep it and the profits.  They must be used to power the U.S.A. 

5) Eight candidates are slated to run in the Primary Election in May. Of those, who would you select to sit on a board of commissioners with you? Why?

I would like to serve with the two people who: 

  1. Will Not attempt to promote a personal agenda.
  2. Will work every day for the people of Clearfield County. 
  3. Will approach issues with an open mind and make decisions based on county needs not personal opinion. 
  4. Will strive to make the county a better place for all, not just a select few.

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Joan Robinson-McMillen

Joan Robinson McMillen

Republican candidate

Incumbent: Yes

Town of Residence:  Clearfield

Joan, her husband Kevin, and son, Harrison reside in Clearfield. Joan was born and raised in Clearfield and is the daughter of Belber and the late Jacqueline Robinson of Clearfield. She graduated from Clearfield High School and Susquehanna University where she earned a BA in Sociology. She’s a member of the CCAP Environment and Land Committee; CCAP PA Marcellus Committee; Chair of Central Counties Youth Center; Chair of the Clearfield County Energy Task Force; and a member of the Conservation District. She is currently your County Commissioner.

1) Why do you want the position?

The position of Clearfield County Commissioner has never been about a job to me.  I have always tried to make a difference.  I have watched as our County has struggled with unemployment and our children have left for better opportunities.  I want a better life for our citizens, I want our children to be able to have the education and job opportunities right here in Clearfield County.

2) What qualifies you to be a Clearfield County Commissioner? How would you distinguish yourself from the other candidates running for this position?

I believe that Clearfield County’s best days are ahead.   

Growing up in a family of four children I learned early in life to be a team player. I feel that one of my best assets is that I am able to work with just about anyone. I have worked with the public in every job that I have had since I was 16.  

I have proven myself to be a leader that is not afraid to make decisions. Over the past three years as your Commissioner I have fought to control County expenses just like each and every one of you have had to do in your personal and business lives. I have balanced a budget decimated by unfunded mandates and out of control health care cost, and after three years I lowered your taxes by 1.3 millions dollars. 

I have shown that not only am I pro business but I take the management of your county employees seriously. The county employees are our most valuable asset. We have high expectations for them when serving you the customer.  All of your county employees deserve respect and due process. I will defend your employees from personal attacks or being used as political pawns.

3) What would your top priorities be as a Clearfield County Commissioner?

The short answer is jobs, jobs, and jobs.  My plan is to make it easy to do business in Clearfield County and to provide a positive business environment. I will market Clearfield County to the job creators, encourage our local business to expand and ask for our young people to stay in Clearfield County and make this their home.

The Marcellus gas is a giant opportunity for Clearfield County.  As with all opportunities come responsibilities.  We expect this industry to protect our streams, forest, and grasslands.  We expect them to use the best available technology to protect the aquifer.  They should hire local workers and contractors.  Finally, they need to be good corporate citizens by contributing to the local tax base, school system, and social programs.

4) What are your plans to stimulate economic growth in Clearfield County? What business/industry would you like to see develop in the county?

I will continue to work with all municipalities in Clearfield County to take full advantage of the vast opportunities that are available. Clearfield County needs high paying, high quality, family sustaining jobs. Over the last three years I have worked to market Clearfield County to industries looking to relocate, as well as supporting businesses that are already here.   As your commissioner  I have a positive view of what Clearfield County could look like in the future.

  • A county with an educated work force
  • A county that is a lead in natural gas and other fuels
  • A county with infrastructure that can compete as a transportation and logistical hub
  • A county making the transition to a knowledge based 21st century economy
  • A first class hospital system
  • A first class educational system
  • A business friendly environment where a small family business can achieve the American Dream.

I am for free markets and free enterprise, where a man and woman can achieve the American Dream of owning their own business. We need to provide the tax structure, infrastructure, and access to capitol to encourage the citizens of Clearfield County to achieve their God given talents.

I believe Clearfield County has a bright future if we seize the opportunities before us.

5) Eight candidates are slated to run in the Primary Election in May. Of those, who would you select to sit on a board of commissioners with you? Why?

I look forward to working with people who share a positive attitude for Clearfield County. People who share my passion to get up everyday and go to work to help Clearfield County become a better place to live, to work, to invest and raise a family. Our future will be full of challenges and opportunities.  The decisions that we make over the next four years will help to determine if we reach our full potential.  I feel that I have proven that I am not afraid to make the decisions that are needed to move Clearfield County forward.  As your County Commissioner, I pledge to get up everyday and work for you.

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Richard D. “Rick” Schickling of Clearfield is a registered Republican. He graduated from the Clearfield Area High School in 1977. He is currently the general manager and treasurer of the Pine Grove Nursery Inc., a family-owned tree and shrub nursery located in Lawrence Township that’s been in operation since 1951. 

He’s currently a member of the Clearfield Area School District Board of Directors and the associate director of the Clearfield County Conservation District. In the past, he has coached both Little and Teener League baseball and Pee Wee football. He’s served on several industry-related boards. He has one son, Todd who lives, works and raises his family in Clearfield.

1) Why do you want the position? 

I want to represent the citizens of Clearfield fairly and honestly, to keep our children and grandchildren from leaving the area and to improve economic conditions for all residents county-wide.

2) What qualifies you to be a Clearfield County Commissioner? How would you distinguish yourself from the other candidates running for this position?

I have been a life-long resident of Clearfield County and currently serve on the Clearfield Area School District Board of Directors. I also operate a small, family business within the county. 

First and foremost, I am not a politician and don’t have a personal agenda for seeking this position. I am and was elected to the school board to volunteer my efforts for the people of the Clearfield Area School District. Now, I would like to make my efforts work for a larger population of people.

3) What would your top priorities be as a Clearfield County Commissioner?

I would create new jobs and fair taxation and favor conservative spending and smaller government. 

4) What are your plans to stimulate economic growth in Clearfield County? What business/industry would you like to see develop in the county? 

I would work hard to persuade businesses and industries to begin or expand operations in our county. I want new and expanded industries and retail businesses and to continue the development of the Marcellus Shale industry in a safe and profitable way for all county residents.

5) Eight candidates are slated to run in the Primary Election in May. Of those, who would you select to sit on a board of commissioners with you? Why? 

At this time, I don’t have any personal preferences. All of my opponents, hopefully, have the best interest of all county residents as their top priority. It would be an honor to serve with any of them.

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John Sobel (Jessica Shirey)

John Sobel

Rebublican candidate

Hometown: Clearfield (Lawrence Township)

Incumbent: Yes

I graduated from Clearfield Area High School in 1971 as Valedictorian. I am also a 1975 gradute of the Dickinson School of Law. I have maintained a law practice at Sobel & Collins for 28 years. Currently, I am a Clearfield YMCA board member, a board member of the Clearfield-Jefferson Chapter of the American Red Cross and a member of the NRA. I worship at the Presbyterian Church of Clearfield, where I have served as an elder. I am also in my first term as a Clearfield County Commissioner.

1) Why do you want the position? 

I grew up during a period when Clearfield County was a vibrant community and economically healthy. It is my belief that we are once again poised to reinvent ourselves through energy production. The stage has been set during my first term in office. I would ask to have the privilege of once again guiding Clearfield County through a new period of growth during a second term as county commissioner.

2) What qualifies you to be a Clearfield County Commissioner? How would you distinguish yourself from the other candidates running for this position?

I believe my record as commissioner during my first term in office qualifies me to serve a second term. I applied common sense principles of fiscal management to county government. The resulted in a 2.5 mil tax reduction to the taxpayers with no reduction in county services. Such experiences, along with my experience of managing a small business consisting of a law practice, enables me to serve as county commissioner.

3) What would your top priorities be as a Clearfield County Commissioner?

The following will be my top prioritiesas county commissioner:

  1. Keep costs of county government down.
  2. Provide sufficient levels of county services to our customers.
  3. Promote and encourage economic growth.
  4. Promote and encourage tourism.
  5. Fight to prevent Clearfield County from being split into two area codes.

4) What are your plans to stimulate economic growth in Clearfield County? What business/industry would you like to see develop in the county? 

Clearfield County is gifted in having an abundance of natural resources. It is also centrally located in the commonwealth and has excellent sources of transportation and water. I believe, therefore, that energy production will stimulate economic growth in the county.

Marcellus shale gas and coal can provide hundreds of future jobs for our citizens as these respective industries develop. This is especially true of “spinoff” jobs development. Many companies are now viewing Clearfield County as the perfect location for trucking, equipment maintenance and materials storage options.

We must also not forget to be environmentally conscious. Our county is now a leader in alternative fuels developement, such as ethanol. This too will have a place in our economic growth.

I have worked with state and federal officials to promote economic growth in Clearfield County. I have also encouraged our economic development agencies to think outside the box, resulting in developments such as the commonwealth’s first energy-specific economic development position being created by our local economic development corporations. If re-elected, I will continue with such policies.

5) Eight candidates are slated to run in the Primary Election in May. Of those, who would you select to sit on a board of commissioners with you? Why?

 We are blessed by our Constitution with the absolute right to choose our elected officials. The voters of Clearfield County will select the next board of commissioners. It is not up to me. I will accept whomever they choose.

Meet the Candidates: MDJ 46-3-01
Meet the Candidates: Clearfield County District Attorney