The voters of Orange Township decided it was time for a change Tuesday, electing Ben Grumbles to replace Trustee Lisa Knapp and Lisa Kraft to replace Fiscal Officer Wes Mayer.
“I want to say thank you to the Orange Township residents for giving me a chance to serve the township,” Grumbles said. “I look forward to working with my fellow board members, the newly elected fiscal officer, and the entire Orange Township team to move our community forward.”
According to records found on the Delaware County Board of Elections website, Grumbles received 1,782 (37.59%) votes out of the 4,740 total votes cast in the trustee race at the 29 precincts during Tuesday’s general election.
During Grumbles’ campaign, he said the township is a promising community with attributes that attract families, and he wanted to “ensure that it does not change despite the out of control growth we have faced over the last decade.” He also views the main issue of the township is a tax base imbalance claiming that residents are paying 80% of the taxes for roads, schools and safety services, while commercial business is paying 17% and 3% for utilities.
“To fix our tax base and gain control of growth, we must develop a realistic vision or goal and leverage smart economic development to achieve it,” he said previously. “The Comprehensive Plan, completed in 2018, is rooted in resident feedback and serves as an ideal starting point. From there we must develop a more efficient zoning process and procedure that facilitates those goals.”
Knapp, a two-term incumbent, received 1,525 (32.17%) out of the 4,740 total votes cast by township voters.
Knapp said during her campaign, she was originally prompted to run as a candidate because she claimed the township was “dysfunctional,” citing poor service, uninvested employees, “a complete lack of financial oversight,” and fighting among trustees and employees as the reasons for the dysfunction.
“I will hold my head up high as I’ve accomplished my goals over the past eight years of cleaning up Orange Township, ensuring fiscal oversight and effective staff,” she said Wednesday. “I ran a clean and positive campaign. Grumbles won by lying … misrepresenting his background … and was supported by (land) developers. He engaged in a … false smear campaign … and also falsely claimed that I’ve left ‘millions of dollars on the table.’ There was no way for me to respond effectively in such a short amount of time. This isn’t sour grapes, it’s the truth.”
Rob Quigley, a former trustee who lost his bid for re-election in 2017, received 1,433 (30.23%) votes.
“I ran as a resident with honesty and integrity,” he said on Tuesday evening. “I’m disappointed that a PAC (Political Action Committee) interfered with the race by negatively campaigning. I hope that the future board focuses on the vision of what the residents expect from our trustees, and I wish Ben Grumbles the best of luck.”
During Quigley’s run for trustee, he said he had talked with many of the residents and found that their main concerns were local taxes and ensuring the township’s budget is managed efficiently, all the while managing growth effectively and maintaining a sense of community and improving the infrastructure to alleviate traffic issues.
Fiscal officer race
Also victorious Tuesday was Kraft, who received 2,820 (61.72%) of the 4,569 votes cast in the 29 precincts for Orange Township fiscal officer.
“I’m really thankful that the voters have put their confidence in me, and I’m anxious to start learning the job,” she said Wednesday.
In September of 2018, the current Orange Township Board of Trustees appointed Mayer over Kraft as the township’s new fiscal officer. The need for the appointment came just two days after the former fiscal officer, Joel Spitzer, unexpectedly vacated the seat.
During her campaign, Kraft said she would “work collaboratively with the trustees to develop short- and long-term forecasts for the township” and “shorten the time to report month-end balances to less than 30 days, and publicly review the township’s financial position during monthly trustee meetings.”
Mayer received the remaining 1,749 (38.28%) of the 4,569 votes cast.
“I took an oath and will continue to make a positive difference in Orange Township, at least until my term expires on March 31,” he said Wednesday.
Once Mayer took office in September 2018, he said he found the fiscal office in complete disarray with “an absence of effective policies, procedures, processes, and systems.” He said as the incumbent, he wanted to finish what he had started, “continuing the positive impact in our township,” and that changing fiscal officers wouldn’t be in the “best interests” of the township.
In Tuesday’s general election, the Delaware County Board of Elections reported that out of the 140,280 registered voters in the county, only 37,017 cast ballots in the 165 precincts, resulting in a 26.39% turnout rate in voting. The above totals are the unofficial count of votes. The BOE will count provisional ballots on Nov. 25 and certify the count Nov. 26.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.