For the Gettysburg Borough council at-large nomination, Democrat Jake Schindel won a battle between two political veterans, while newcomer Matt Moon gained the Dems’ Ward 2 nod.
Schindel posted a 214-164 primary victory Tuesday over Harry Stokes, who is a past council member and Adams County commissioner; 13 write-in votes were cast as well.
Political newcomer Matt Moon won the Ward 2 nomination with 76 votes to borough planning commission member John Rice’s 50. There were two write-in votes.
Schindel, one of two Ward 2 incumbents, is completing his second four-year term. He owns The Ragged Edge Coffee House in Gettysburg. At-large incumbent Susan Naugle, also a Democrat, announced in January she would not seek re-election.
No Republican council nominations were contested.
“I wasn’t expecting to win,” Moon said Tuesday.
He credited his victory to a campaign that included knocking on some 250 doors, resulting in “50 or 60 good conversations.”
By contrast, Rice said he sent out a mailing to Democratic voters in the ward, “did a podcast,” and handed out cards Tuesday at the ward’s polling station at the Gettysburg Recreation Park.
Moon said he was grateful to Rice for a “polite” race that was not “contentious” in character.
Told of that comment, Rice laughed and said the race was “maybe not contentious enough.”
A member of the borough planning commission since 2017, Rice said he was “disappointed” but expects to stay involved in borough politics, though exactly how “is yet to be seen.”
Moon, a Springs Avenue resident, said he “tried to let everybody know that I’m a progressive” and “not necessarily the centrist guy. I’ll do my best to make a nuisance of myself.”
His door-to-door interactions revealed concerns about parking but yielded few comments about building height limits downtown, which were a hotly debated issue for months.
The borough has no choice but to rely on parking revenues, he said. Moon said he welcomes studies of parking alternatives that are under way.
The borough should also seek taxable economic development and provide an environment “where businesses can flourish,” while planning for a future with a declining tourist industry, he said.
The borough police department’s “history of civil rights issues” is an issue for Moon. Though state law gives the mayor oversight of that department, Moon said the council “has a role in personnel issues.”
A top priority for Moon will be to find ways for the borough to take “decisive” local action on the environment, he said. While campaigning, he collected petition signatures supporting the Gettysburg Rising organization’s call for the borough to limit single-use plastic bags. The borough’s name recognition means it can “show the way” in the absence of national environmental leadership, he said.
Moon, who grew up in New York’s Finger Lakes region, said he moved here in 2011 with his wife Erin Propst, who grew up locally and wanted to return to the area.
Ward 2 covers the area west of Carlisle Street and north of West Middle Street.
Stokes originally considered running for either at-large or for the Ward 2 seat. He chose the latter in March, when he said he did so “because John’s (Rice) running for the Ward 2 seat and I think’s John’s an excellent candidate.” A message left for Stokes late Tuesday was not returned.
Schindel issued a statement late Tuesday. He thanked his supporters, saying “they did a great job of pushing me over the top. I’m happy that I will be on council for the next four years and look forward to continuing to make decisions that push Gettysburg in the right direction.”
Naugle, now president of the council, was the first person elected to the council’s at-large seat. The seat, which is voted on across the borough, came into existence as of 2016 after the council decreased its membership from nine to seven, ending the era of each ward having three representatives. During her first two terms, Naugle previously represented Ward 3.
Naugle defeated Schindel in the 2015 Democratic primary for the at-large seat, but Schindel at the same time received the most Republican write-in votes for the at-large seat. He opted not to accept the GOP nomination. Instead, he ran successfully to retain his Ward 2 seat, gaining a primary victory over fellow Ward 2 incumbent Kyle Leinbach, who later resigned from the council when he moved out of the borough.