Please provide a biographical narrative.
I was born and raised in Philipsburg and returned to my hometown after college, 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 Bachelor’s degree. Penn State University is where I received my Master’s degree in education administration. I attended St. Bonaventure University for my K-12 Principal’s Certification.
Currently, I am an instructor at the DuBois Business College. I retired as a classroom teacher with 38 years in public education from the DuBois Area School District.
I grew up in the Moshannon Valley, where I still have many friends and relatives.
I am married to Karen Abbott, a registered nurse, working at the DuBois Penn Highlands Emergency Room. We were married for 43 years in April. We have three grown children and seven grandchildren
I was awarded “Teacher of the Year” by the Clearfield County Conservation Group and Sports Official of the Year in Pennsylvania for baseball. I am a Division I women’s collegiate basketball referee and a PIAA official in football, basketball, baseball and track. I have been a sports official for more than 44 years and have worked many play-off and state title games.
I am a member of the Sons of the American Legion serving as past vice commander and currently the project coordinator for the SAL Veteran Paver Project along with a second project, Dedicated Veteran parking signs that display “Veteran Parking Only.”
I am also a member of the Philipsburg Elks, Athletic Club, a life member of the Bald Eagle Fraternal Order of Police, a member of the SOI in Clearfield and a life member of the Hope Fire Company. I was the past president of the Moshannon Valley YMCA and a past Treasure Lake board member serving as vice president. I am also the owner of a small business: Abbott Investigation and Courier Service.
What motivated your interest in running for Clearfield County Commissioner?
It is my desire to see that all areas of our county are represented at the county level. I want our county to be properly funded and policies in place to make the county run in a smooth and efficient manner. I want to make sure that the commissioners’ office does not interfere and micromanage the courthouse or other county offices and departments.
What qualifications do you possess that would benefit the Clearfield County Commissioners’ Office?
First and foremost I am not running for a job. I am not holding any other elected position while campaigning for the position of Clearfield County Commissioner.
My 38 years in public education has provided a backdrop of experiences to make critical decisions based on the needs of the county. I am a graduate of Clarion University (Bachelor’s, education), Penn State University (Master’s in education administration, M.ED) and St. Bonaventure University (certification in administration K-12).
During my educational tenure, I have experienced negotiating contracts and adopting and utilizing budgets. Also, as an athletic administrator, I have experience working with the multiple building programs, running large budgets and working with different programs, all requiring multiple needs and resources.
As a sports official of 44 years, I bring the experience of being in pressure situations and being a level headed, problem solver at a time when most people are demanding action not attributed to the situation at hand.
Also, being in the highly-contested arena, I have dealt with those groups that voice displeasure over not getting what they think should be a reward. I learned very fast that if one plays and competes on a level playing field, then all parties are getting a fair and impartial response.
Government transparency has been a buzzword in politics for the past few years. Do you feel that the county is transparent enough? If not, what needs to change?
I truly believe that our current government system is working toward being transparent. Where I disagree with our current commissioners is the position our current commissioners ran on their respective platforms – “high paying family sustaining jobs.” They failed to attain this very important goal.
I want to keep Clearfield County money in Clearfield County. I am at odds with the present commissioners for the practice of paying out-of-county. Some examples come to mind: hiring attorneys outside the county to negotiate contracts with our workers and sending our retirement funds to a Philadelphia firm for investments.
I strongly believe that both of these issues are better resolved here in our county. Hiring the attorney firm has cost the county approximately $250,000 and hiring the Philadelphia firm to do our investing costs the county approximately $95,000 per year.
Open and honest transparency occurs when tough decisions are made with the facts and figures in front of all. For the sake of an open discussion, let’s ask this one very important question on transparency: Why was our budget cut 2.5 percent for the past eight years?
My research shows that the purchasing power of goods and materials needed to run our courthouse in an efficient manner have gone up yearly. Will there be enough money in the budget for new rounds of contract negotiations, vehicles, courthouse security upgrades, hiring of personnel along with other costs unforeseen?
Time will ultimately give us that answer. To that end, I will sit down with the workers to negotiate contracts. I want to hear directly from our county workers, not through a third-party person who doesn’t reside in our county. I want first-hand knowledge of the wants and needs of our own workforce.
If elected, how would you reach out and form relationships with citizens of Clearfield County? How would you reach out to those citizens in the outlying areas of the county?
This is where a commissioner earns his or her keep. This is where a commissioner requests input from citizens from Coalport to Morrisdale, from Ramey to Grampian, from DuBois to Lumber City, from Lawrence Township to Sandy Township, from Gulich to Huston, from Goshen to Pike and from Plymptonville to Decatur. All of this takes cooperation and an open line of communication with all entities within the borders of Clearfield County, forming a trust and bond between local and county government.
If elected, what measures would you take to ensure the efficient operation of Clearfield County?
It is my desire to see that all areas of the county are represented at the county level. I want our county to be properly funded and policies put in place to make the county run in a smooth and efficient manner. I want to make sure that the commissioners’ office does not interfere or micromanage the courthouse or other county office. The commissioners’ office is just one cog in the workings of the county government. Each and every office and its personnel must be able to work together toward the goal of making Clearfield County one of the best 67 counties to come home to.
What is your opinion on regionalization of government positions, police forces, etc. within Clearfield County?
I will concentrate efforts on unification of the county’s boroughs, city and townships. I will encourage city and townships to share resources, such as regional police forces, governmental positions and where the need arises encourage communities to combine into one.
I will be in tune with the wants and needs of our county’s villages, towns and city and cooperate with and work in conjunction with community leaders (including mayors, city managers, township supervisors, police and firemen).
When I think of unification and regionalization, I think of the economic impact these unification projects would create for Clearfield County.
If elected, what measures would you take to generate economic development opportunities for Clearfield County?
To generate economic development opportunities within Clearfield County, I will loosen my tie, roll up my sleeves, get out from behind the desk and go seek our entrepreneurs within our Clearfield County and start a dialogue about investing within Clearfield County.
I will challenge our state lawmakers to invest in our county. After all we do have clear, clean fresh water. We do have timber. We do have gas. We do have good schools. We have land along Interstate 80 in Lawrence Township just begging to be developed. We have land at mile marker 101 adjacent to I-80 waiting to be developed, as well.
We need to get the land owners with our entrepreneurs to generate dialogue about development of these strategically located lands so maximum utilization of that land is accomplished. Above all and most important, we do have hard working people who take pride in their work ethic.
If elected, I will to get “out from behind the desk” and offer a challenge to lawmakers to make them understand that rural America and rural Clearfield County needs their support for agriculture, land development, infrastructural improvements, development of our natural resources and the need for improvement of our infrastructure.
If elected, what would be your top priority as Clearfield County Commissioner?
The foremost issue facing our county is our major healthcare provider in DuBois. With that movement occurring, we have to have a strong vision of how to transport our Clearfield County residents to this facility.
My vision is to develop a plan to revamp Route 322 into a 21st century safe highway for travel to the healthcare facilities. Another transportation vision would include a direct access road to the medical center. This vision will take the support of our local political leaders in the Tri-County area. Another benefit of propelling Route 322 into a safe highway is to help alleviate traffic stress when accidents occur on I-80.
The second biggest problem facing our county is the upgrades that need to take place in courthouse security. It is imperative that the security upgrades are developed with the cooperation of our sheriff’s department. Safety upgrades are so the people working and utilizing our courthouse feel a sense of security.
Again, my compelling point: An eye to the future – having a fervent vision for Clearfield County.
What are the greatest challenges facing Clearfield County? If elected, what measures would you propose to resolve them?
The greatest challenge is to elect a Clearfield County Commissioner who has the courage to believe that as citizens of Clearfield County we need to embrace change.
We need to break down barriers that for hundreds of years have kept our county communities apart. We need to eliminate the attitude that “this one got this and I deserve more mentality.”
We need to reevaluate exactly what does Clearfield County have to offer to its own citizenry, what does Clearfield County have to offer our Tri-County neighbors, what does Clearfield County have to offer our Commonwealth and what does Clearfield County bring to the national scene?
Finally, the “Government of the People, By the People, and For the People” is serious business. We cannot afford to elect a county commissioner who is not dedicated to serving full-time in this position.
The people of our county deserve a full-time, dedicated commissioner whose main goal and duty is the self-preservation of Clearfield County. We the people of Clearfield County want and need elected officials who are not afraid to discuss issues of importance as they directly involve our way of living.
I will be that person.
In closing, I wish to thank GantDaily for allowing me a chance to expound on issues that are current to Clearfield County.