The three Democrats seeking nomination for Lancaster County commissioner said they would use the role to solve problems, improve services and make life easier for ordinary residents.
Janet Diaz, Bob Hollister and Alice Yoder faced off in an hour-long forum hosted and livestreamed by LNP newspaper. The three are running in the May 16 primary; the top two will face off in November against incumbent Republicans Ray D’Agostino and Josh Parsons for seats on the three-member board.
Each touted their experience to date in successfully collaborating and working with diverse constituencies and political foes: Diaz as a City Councilwoman, Hollister as former superintendent of the Eastern Lancaster County School District and Yoder as executive director of community health at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health and a former member of the West Hempfield Township and Lancaster County planning commissions.
All three said the county should have an official health department, rather than the Health Advisory Council it has now, which cannot take action or issue statements without the commissioners’ approval. Likewise, they said the county should do more to encourage the development of broadband infrastructure.
Lancaster County’s voter registration is 51% Republican, 32% Democratic and 17% third-party or independent. Nevertheless, Hollister said he thinks Democrats can win two commissioner seats in November, saying county residents are “frustrated with the current Republican leadership” and linking Parsons to state Sen. Doug Mastriano.
Diaz, who is Latina, made a point of answering questions in both English and Spanish. She emphasized her concern for Lancaster’s minority populations, particularly Latinos, who face language barriers and other difficulties.
Yoder noted that she and Parsons have found common ground in tackling the county’s opioid epidemic as co-chairs of the Joining Forces coalition. As commissioner, “I would not politicize what we’re doing,” she said.
Other topics addressed include the County Prison replacement project, housing and homelessness and the challenge of balancing growth with open land preservation. LNP’s full coverage of the debate is here.