Perkins Township voters got to know the people behind the yard signs and T-shirts Thursday night.
The three candidates running for township trustee and two running for fiscal officer laid out their platforms during a forum at Perkins High School hosted by the Erie County Chamber of Commerce.
The candidates for the trustee seat being vacated by Tom Pascoe are Jerry Baumgardner, Don Bass and Jeff Ferrell.
The candidates for Perkins fiscal officer are incumbent Pamela Hartung Kellem and former township clerk Diane Schaefer.
Candidates introduced themselves to the public and told residents, in their own words, where they stand on township issues.
After their introductions, the trustee and fiscal officer hopefuls spent an hour and a half fielding questions about meeting minutes, home rule, township flooding and budget constraints.
Trustee candidates were asked about their prior experience with budgets and their thoughts on the biggest problems facing the township.
Here is a sampling of the questions asked and answers given:
Q: Do you feel that local government is keeping up with the rapid growth in Perkins Township?
Ferrell: "Right now we have 77 full-time employees, and it's hard to run the township when there are three people running it and on a part-time basis. It's time that the township consider an administrator ... It seems like the problems we have in running the township are day-to-day matters. An administrator could make sure the policies and directives from the trustees are followed."
Baumgardner: "I think we have kept up." Baumgardner added that while the township has in the past considered an administrator, he feels that given current township revenue hiring a full-time administrator may not be feasible.
Bass: "I don't believe that the three trustees are there enough that we can't afford someone to watch the taxpayers' back when the trustees aren't available."
Q: What do you feel the main concerns facing the township are?
Bass: "It seems that the residents of the township have lost trust in the direction that the trustees and the township are going. We seem to have a problem with who is running the township. Are the employees running the township, or are the trustees running the township? That's one of the biggest problems we're facing, and I think that it can be solved by policy and procedure manuals."
Baumgardner: "Taxes. I don't think it's not that the township doesn't need additional funds, but that (residents) believe we need to spend as frugally as possible."
Ferrell: "I think residents were just tired. There wasn't a lot of communication, the trustees make a motion and then the next time you pick up the paper it's something totally different. The residents are looking for a bit more communication, I think." Ferrell added that he would like to start an annual township survey to rate township service performance.
Quotes from candidates for Perkins Township Trustee:
"Together we can lead Perkins to a brighter future."
"I believe its time for the township to get back to business."
"I am the vehicle of change Perkins Township needs."
Quotes from candidates for Perkins Township Fiscal Officer:
Pamela Hartung Kellem
"I am running for reelection on the basis of my track record."
"If elected fiscal officer I promise to keep pace with the needs of the township and its residents."