May 17 – In Tuesday’s primary election, Chambersburg will decide who will run on the Republican ticket for Mayor of Chambersburg this fall – incumbent Walt Bietsch or Ken “Hockey” Hock.
Attorney Clint Barkdoll and Michele Jansen interviewed the candidates on Saturday and you can listen here.
Barkdoll said, “They both bring a lot to the table and I think they’re very different people in that regard as well. Mayor Bietsch the incumbent has the police experience. I think he has a very good background to be a mayor because of his involvement with police. I felt Hockey, who does not have that background, but he has more of the business, citizen activist-type background in the extent that he’s very involved in the community. He’s operated a business for many years. He employs people. That also is very valuable.”
This could be a close election. Turnout will be low and this could come down to the difference between just a couple hundred votes.
“Both of them are campaigning,” Barkdoll said. “I was struck by Hockey saying he’s doing a lot of door to door campaigning. That is often very effective in a local race, but I know Walt Bietsch is also campaigning in the sense of mailers and different targeted type messages.”
Jansen pointed out, “I think both sides of that coin are important. Me, personally, I think I would be more concerned about our police right now. We see police being disrupted all over the country. We see this re-imagining going on. I’m a little nervous when Hockey kept saying, ‘I’m going to leave this up to Ron Camacho.’ Because the mayor’s job, that is his one official job, to be the head of the police. I want to know there’s going to be strong support for our police and the way they operate. I’m very worried we know it’s a more liberal council now, we’ve got a very vocal, strong, leftist progressive group that’s making their desires heard quite forcefully. I’m very worried about the pressure that’s going to come down on Chief Camacho and the police department and having enough, strong support to keep that from re-imagining our police department and making them ineffectual and maybe driving some police away.”
Pat Ryan added, “And also tying them up in nonsense training that they’ve already gone through. We’re diverse. We’re listening to the community. Chief Camacho was even celebrated with Congressman John Joyce on the floor in Washington. The last thing I need is an activist borough council that are short on a lot of information. Remember it’s the borough council, a lot of them, that haven’t gone along with ride alongs with the chief of police.”
Jansen said, “That should be mandatory.”
Ryan agreed, “If you’re going to make some decisions, then you get your fannies in those cars. Instead of ‘words may never hurt me’ and skewering a decent man that is Allen Coffman.”
Barkdoll said, “Whoever emerges on this Republican side, they cannot sleep in the fall. There will be a Democrat on the ballot, Mr. Worthy, and we know that Chambersburg has elected Democratic mayors and I think that that candidate is going to have a very motivated base, a very motivated constituency. That could be a very hot race in the fall. I think that these are questions that that guy needs to get on the record. What is his position on police? Does he support them? Does he want to do anything like re-imagine the police like we see in so many of these races around the country? I do worry about what effect that could have on a police chief or just on your beat officer on the street. Could they feel if they’re not being supported enough or they’re not getting the type of support they need from not only the mayor, but council in general, that can really erode the efficacy of a local police force and it’s something voters need to be cautious of.”
All elections are important. Please vote 18 May 2021.