GREENWOOD TWP- What they have in common is that all three have formerly held seats on the Greenwood Town Board. What they don’t have in common is their motivation for again seeking a seat on the Greenwood Town Board.
Byron Beihoffer, Carmen DeLuca, and Don Doroff are all running for the open supervisor seat, currently held by Kirsten Reichel, in the upcoming March 8 township election.
All three show clear interest in serving on the board, but they disagree about the challenges and issues facing the township, and about changes they would like to see in the future.
Candidate Byron Beihoffer declined to be interviewed for this article, and stated he was running on his past record as a supervisor, and that his record stood for itself. Doroff, who is spending the winter in Arizona, sent answers to questions via email, and DeLuca was interviewed at the Timberjay office, and also submitted written responses to questions.
DeLuca, who has been a steady presence at most township meetings since he lost his seat on the board two years ago (in a three-way race between himself, Rick Worringer, and John Bassing) said he is able to be a “full-time supervisor” and is living in the township year-round.
Doroff and DeLuca disagree on what has changed since they were last on the board, but both see major problems.
“Attacks against the employees and the township seem to be one-sided,“ Doroff said. “There are two sides to the arguments and there is a need to find common ground to resolve the issues.”
DeLuca sees it differently. “The board has quit working for the people. They seem to have their own agenda.”
Doroff would like to see better communication with the public.
“We need fair and balanced input from all the citizens,” he said, “not just the few who routinely attend the town board meetings. A lot of people do care, but they are not going to attend meetings only to get insulted, laughed, or booed at.”
DeLuca would like to see more leadership at the board table, along with a more open communication policy between the clerk and chairman and the rest of the board members.
“All the supervisors need to get all the information,” DeLuca said. “They can’t do their jobs without it. The board needs to go back to working for the people.”
DeLuca again and again came back to the issue of openness.
“The board needs to be open with citizens at all the meetings,” he said. “If questions are asked, they should be responded to with an answer, not just a thank you and then move on.”
Doroff would also like to see more respect shown at the township meetings that would include “input from all citizens.”
Doroff also sees major issues with support shown for the fire department.
“I supported Chief Fazio and he has reconstituted membership and increased the First Responder roster. We need to continue to support and build on those efforts.”
“I have always been in support of the fire department and First Responders,” said DeLuca. “I voted to increase the paid-on-call in 2010.”
DeLuca would like to see the township consider letting St. Louis County handle planning and zoning matters. “At the last two annual meetings, the citizens voted for planning and zoning to go to St. Louis County,” he noted. “I think their wishes should be respected.” He wondered why that question wasn’t asked on the township survey, as some had urged.
Doroff said he is not opposed to turning planning and zoning back to the county, but would like to study the overall benefit to the community. He noted that local zoning does bring in revenue “which offsets the cost of operation.”
“Having local control of everything should benefit the township,” he said, “versus having all development managed out of an office in Virginia or Duluth and variances decided by out-of-area people.”
The addition of recreation facilities at the town hall has been controversial. And both candidates hold similar views that such development should be limited. Both said they would respect the views of the citizens, and support the completion of the already-budgeted-for tennis court.
Doroff noted that realtors say “there is a direct correlation between property value and recreational facilities, and that there are health benefits for users.”
DeLuca cited the results of the comprehensive plan survey, which showed less than a majority supporting any additional recreational facilities at the town hall.
Lowering township spending has been a loud and clear message from area taxpayers.
Doroff noted that fire department spending has plummeted under Chief Fazio and that current department equipment is in good shape. He would like to see a standard operating procedure for pursuing zoning violators, and initial a cost reduction program with input from residents.
“We should preserve our surplus funds and support the next budget for annual anticipated expenses only,” he said.
DeLuca would like to see the township send Planning Zoning back to the county. He would also eliminate the 911-coordinator position. He noted that zoning-related expenses include attorney bills, mileage, and salaries for zoning board members, who are paid for attending meetings.
DeLuca noted that the majority responding to the comprehensive plan survey want to keep the lake pristine. “I feel that is very important,” he said.
Doroff agreed that the quality of the lake is the main priority for the community.
“The lake is our only attraction and I don’t see future development off the lake,” he said. “Once the comprehensive plan is approved, it is not binding but is a step forward in planning the direction that development should take.” Doroff noted there might be support for condominium or townhome-style projects in the township.