It was like a birthday party where the birthday boy didn’t show up.
The Shohola Citizens for Open Government (CFOG) organized a candidates’ night in preparation for primary election day on May 17, and two of the candidates—Republican Shirley Masuo and Democrat Brad Dellert—appeared, but the incumbent supervisor, Democrat Gregg Hoeper, the main target for a lot of criticism in the township, decided not to.
Hoeper’s seat at the table with his name plate in plain view was empty.
For the last year, Hoeper has been the silent partner in the conflict between George Fluhr Jr., supervisor chairman, and Don and Nelia Wall, who were, respectively, zoning officer and township treasurer/secretary, both of whom were removed from office. Nelia, also the third supervisor on the township board, cannot be removed except by election.
While Fluhr raged, Hoeper sat silently most of the time during the stormy meetings that have become almost legendary in the township. Only now, with the election coming, has he voiced his opinions.
Hoeper, in a letter to the editor that appeared in this newspaper, explained his reasons for not attending.
“I will not meet with this organization (CFOG) when it is arranged to prohibit reasonable objectivity and response in the press,” Hoeper wrote. He said further that he would invite the candidates to debate local issues, but on terms agreeable to all candidates.
At the meeting, Glyn Eisenhauer of CFOG denied that the other two candidates were ever members of his organization. (A response to Hoeper’s letter by Eisenhauer appears on page 6.)
During the meeting, the candidates responded to questions that were submitted to the moderator, Fred Suljic of Lackawaxen, a man with experience in moderating events like this.
Dellert spoke of his conviction to install zero-based budgeting, his support of the four-acre minimum in township development, his tentative opposition to gas drilling, his intention to know more about subdivision and land development ordinances and how they are creating tension between builders and environmentalists.
“I don’t want to see a lot of development overrun the township as it does in neighboring counties south of here,” he said.
Masuo spoke of the urgency of healing the rift between the township leadership and the people. “Our township is broken,” she said. “We need our supervisors to be working together.
Township meetings are out of control,” she said. “I know that there are always opposing viewpoints but we have to be ruled by what is best for the town.” She bemoaned the fact that little was being done in the township because of the ongoing grand jury hearings on township officials and some residents. “We need to hear what is going on,” she said.
On gas drilling, she said she was opposed as long as the companies would not reveal the chemicals that are contained in their drilling fluids. “Drilling can’t be done safely if we don’t know what chemicals are being used,” she said.