Challenging republicans Mike Belding and Betsy McClure both received more than 28% of the county vote, and incumbent democrat Blair Zimmerman received 22.6% to round out the new board of commissioners, according to greene.pa.us.
With the 2020 Presidential Election quickly approaching, the board wants to focus on promoting unity and putting the people of Greene County over party loyalty.
Belding, chairman of the board, believes the idea of people over politics plays a big role in local government, but can also play a role in the 2020 presidential race.
“My focus has always been less politics and more for the people,” Belding said. “I think going forward into the election in our general geographic region, that will still play big. To take care of the people regardless of politics.”
McClure, board vice chairman, noted that, although local government has to work with higher levels of government, there is still a sense of duty to the county that prevails ahead of partisan politics.
“A lot of things that come down from the federal and the state level do affect your local government. So as much as you don’t want politics to be in the heart of things, their regulations that come down do affect you,” McClure said. “It’s about how you manage your dollars and keeping the focus on Greene County and your residents.”
Zimmerman, board secretary and lone democrat on the board, agrees that Greene County must come before differences in ideology.
“Some of their philosophy might be different, some of mine might be different,” Zimmerman said. “But at the end of the day, we are all elected here to make things better for Greene County, so that’s the bottom line.”
One area of common ground for the commissioners is diversifying the economy, a goal Zimmerman said he’s been working on in previous years as commissioner.
“A lot of my focus over my time has been on economic development,” Zimmerman said. “I know that’s one of their goals too.”
Another issue the commissioners want to work together to solve is the opioid/illegal drug crisis. To solve this crisis, Belding believes the board, and the county, need to be united.
“We can’t be divided,” Belding said. “We don’t have the resources to serve two different parties. We have to be closer together and all about Greene County.”
The overarching goal for all three commissioners as they approach their second month working together is to improve Greene County as a whole.
“I think that myself and the other two commissioners, we have the same goals and missions focusing on Greene County and the residents here,” McClure said. “Making this a better place to live, work, retire, raise a family; that’s our goal, and we are all three on the same page.”