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Blair County Commissioners – Vote for Two

Amy Webster

 
Series: Nov. 5 Election | Story 7

October 31, 2019

Photo provided by the candidate

Amy Webster

Office candidate is running for-Blair County Commissioner

Candidates Party - Republican

Candidates age - 63

Town of residence - Hollidaysburg

Candidates immediate family - My family are the best blessings in my life. I have 2 wonderful children: my son is an attorney and my daughter is a police officer, my sister, and her family

Current occupation or retiree of. - I am self-employed as an Attorney at Law (35+ years), admitted to Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Federal Courts in Pennsylvania, 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, and United States Supreme Court. I am an also a Real Estate Broker, (5 years) licensed through the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission, and member of Allegheny Highland Association of Realtors, and a real estate investor (20+ years). I earned my Juris Doctor at Duquesne University School of Law, my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at Penn State University Main Campus, my high school diploma at Hollidaysburg Area High School, and am a Christian Minister through Ministers for Christ Assembly of Churches, serving Canoe Creek State Park in the summers through the Pennsylvania Council of Churches.

Previous experience in elected office - Hollidaysburg Borough Council 2006-2012. Blair County Republican Committee Member since 2016

What would you consider your primary reason for running for office? I decided to run for Commissioner because of the problems caused by reassessment. I successfully represented many people who were harmed by the process. Many of the initially-assigned valuations were outrageously high. The appeals process was unfair. The appraisals and evidence property owners presented were largely ignored. Inequities remain. We are seeing increased numbers of tax sale properties, and the ratio of assessed values to sales prices continues to increase.

We must get the budget under control. Our county taxes have increased by 35% since the reassessment. We cannot maintain a burgeoning budget and burdensome tax increases. I plan to reduce spending.

We are losing jobs and people county-wide. We must encourage economic development by using Keystone Economic Opportunity Zones, LERTA (Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance), and similar means. We must create tax incentives to encourage builders to construct new homes that will support the demand for housing for young working families.

What is the biggest immediate challenge you expect to face if elected?

The most immediate challenge will be financial, and will require a review of all departments, their mandates, and the services they provide, to streamline procedures and reduce costs. We must implement new partnerships and opportunities for the private sector to work with the county government to provide the some of those necessary and mandated services. We must explore ways to reduce the strain on property owners, who are the taxpayers and chief funding source for county government. We need to resist the temptation to accept a few dollars from state and federal governments to cover the cost of new programs for a couple of years, but that continue in perpetuity. We must initiate incentives to encourage business to locate here and to create job opportunity to our well-trained job force

What is the biggest issue facing the next board of commissioners?

The state legislature mandates many services, but does not provide funding for those mandates. Property owners are targeted to foot the bill for everything, and therefore, are disproportionately burdened. We need to look to alternate funding to relieve the burden on property owners. We need to reduce the financial strain on the county by creating partnerships with businesses and non-profits and encouraging the establishment of new businesses to provide some of these mandated responsibilities. All the issues and concerns that we face as a community in the operation of our county government are ultimately financial. I am a fiscal conservative who will reduce government spending and protect taxpayers.

What are some of your primary goals to achieve as commissioner?

Implement fair and reasonable procedures for the assessment of properties and simplify appeals.

Grow the local economy by attracting new business and incentivizing investment in the community by implementing and encouraging new economic opportunities by using incentives such as LERTA (Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act) and the Keystone Opportunity Zones to encourage new businesses and create jobs for and retain our well-educated and talented young working families.

To encourage development, we must reduce government spending and stop raising taxes. By reducing government and taxes, we can incentivize developers. Low property taxes attract developers to build new homes, which in turn, can attract talented business owners and new workers. Instead of raising taxes, commissioners should try to reduce or at least stabilize taxes to incentivize development. I plan to seek out promising new companies and people and invite them to come here.

Deal with our burgeoning social issues by working with the private sector to create partnerships to provide services required by law and unfunded mandates. I plan to meet with our state legislators to push for reforms that could reduce or eliminate some of the mandates.

Reduce government spending and balance the budget.

Create transparency and accountability. Meetings must be publicized and made convenient for citizens to attend or to access. Conflicts of interest must be eliminated.

What other comments would you like to make regarding the commissioners office and the direction you want to take the county in?

Blair County needs a fresh start. We need to get out of the rut of electing politicians and instead, look to people who have education and experience that will bring new perspectives and a willingness to undertake new methodologies and ideas to county operations. My education gives me an excellent understanding of the law and of property issues, knowledge that none of the other Republican candidates possess. My experiences as a business owner enable me to identify and understand the balancing of required expenditures and aspirations in budgeting and providing for reasonable costs for services. My experiences as a real estate investor and a real estate broker help me to understand the requirements for maintaining and preserving our housing stock and buildings, as well as understanding the local market. My life experiences have given me insights into the struggles that people face daily. We have many people who are not employed and survive on welfare assistance, disability, and other government programs. Most people want to work and be a participating and productive part of their community and society as a whole. I believe that we can create permanent new jobs and opportunities in these partnerships that would be appropriate for people who would want the opportunity to escape from the throes of dependency upon government.

I look forward to the opportunity to exchange ideas with business and community leaders from across the United States for creative financing and partnering to help provide services more efficiently and more affordably. I plan to encourage and create new business opportunities by allowing certain services to be provided by new, innovative, private entities. This would not only decrease county costs and expenditures, but the creation of new business, industry, and other entities could also provide opportunities for our younger folks to remain here and could attract new folks to our community.

My particular education and experience are exactly what Blair County needs from a commissioner to revitalize success for our community.

 

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