The terms of two members of the Petersburg borough assembly run out this October. One of them, Eric Castro says he won’t be running for re-election. Nancy Strand is gathering signatures and likely will be a candidate for another term.
73-year-old Nancy Strand is retired from a career working as a construction laborer and on highway projects. She’s served two terms on the assembly and was also on the city council for Petersburg.
“Well I’d like to see, be part of and help the borough business continue to run smoothly,” Strand said of her reason for running again. “I think we’re doing as well as we can with low funds. It’s easy to legislate when there’s a lot of money but when there is none, it’s more difficult.”
While she said the borough is running smoothly, the assembly has been dealing with some controversial decisions in the past couple of years. One was the re-organization of borough departments that drew opposition from the public and employees in the electrical utility. Strand thinks that change has gone well. There’s also been two newly negotiated labor contracts with borough employees. One contract took more than a year to reach agreement. The assembly also agreed to extend the borogh manager’s contract for another five years and has been approving new fees and charges as well as increases for borough services. Earlier this year the assembly also agreed to send a senior sales tax exemption question to the October ballot. Strand thinks that exemption will go away eventually if not this year.
“I like the idea of an income-based requirement,” Strand said. “And of course residency is excellent. It’s quite a drain on collection of resource. So I think that probably it’s going to ultimately go the way of many good ideas.”
Strand uses the senior sales tax exemption but not for items she considers non-necessities. If she’s re-elected she mentions the hospital as an important project that needs to be addressed. She thinks the borough should look for some source of money for improvements at the existing hospital.
“I’m not sure where we can afford a 40 million dollar investment for a new one but we do need at least improvements,” Strand said. “So that would probably be the biggest thing to keep an eye on.”
Strand encourages residents to look up her constituent phone number in the old phone book and call her about borough issues.
Meanwhile, 36-year-old Eric Castro is finishing his first term on the assembly but said he won’t be running for re-election. Castro is the Petersburg Ranger District’s fisheries biologist for the U.S. Forest Service.
“A year and a half ago I ended up receiving the district fisheries biologist position,” Castro explained. “I moved from a part-time season worker into full time. Being as I’m working year-round now, I have 12 employees and it’s just become too much of a burden to be able to continue both on the assembly and as a district fisheries biologist.”
Castro wants to focus on his job and doesn’t feel like he can give his full focus to the assembly position. He is glad that he served three years on the assembly and says he came into it looking for new or additional sources of revenue for the community.
“I’m proud that I helped make the move in order to be able to legalize marijuana in town, the commercial sale of it, bringing in taxes,” Castro said. “Like I noted at the assembly a couple weeks ago, $36,000 had been brought in as of June 1st for the marijuana excise tax. You know, all I hear are good reports about the electrical re-organization. I know that was a highly contentious issue and something that kind of pained me to have to go through because I could see kind of like the contention within the community and having community members stopping me on the street displaying their displeasure. I feel ultimately for the community that it has worked out and I’m happy to have been, proud to have been able to take part in that.”
He thinks the municipality is in good shape, and likes the leadership by the borough manager and the current mayor and his colleagues on the assembly. Nevertheless, Castro thinks the state’s fiscal crisis and a loss of state funding will continue to be a challenge for the next assembly.
The deadline to file for office is Tuesday, August 21 at 5 p.m.