Since the establishment of the Southwest Area Commission in 2004, there have been problems getting the public involved during their annual elections.
Even though the voting process is held during the popular National Night Out, they have never had more than 20 people vote in their elections per year, but that was not the case this time around.
"There were 76 people who voted this year, which is just terrific," said Commissioner Kathleen Williamson Thacker at the Aug. 20 Southwest Area Commission meeting.
Chairman Ralph Horn credited the turnout to the number of people at National Night Out, as well as an increased interest coming from the community.
"I am very proud of the voter turnout, as well as the fantastic candidates we had," he said.
The commission had eight area residents throw their names into the potential commission chairs, but there were only three elected seats up for grabs. Those seats went to incumbent commissioners Roy Bertossi and Jennifer Miller, and newcomer Stefanie Coe, who moved to the Southwest area two years ago.
"I decided to run to learn more about the community and to be involved with the issues that affect the surrounding neighborhoods," Coe said.
In addition to being an attorney, Coe has worked with numerous neighborhood associations and area commissions to address issues that involve neighborhoods such as code violations, petty crime, animal cruelty and property destruction.
The commission also had four at-large seats available, as well as a position resulting from a commissioner who had to resign due to personal reasons, but Horn tabled that vote until the next meeting in September.
Those four at-large vacancies went to commission incumbents Ralph Horn, Juanita Kaufman, Bill Collignon and newcomer Jason Waltke.
Area plan update
Adrienne Joly, a senior planner with the Franklin County Economic Development and Planning Department attended the meeting to give commissioners an update on the progression of the Southwest Area Land Use Development Plan and to set up the next public workshop sometime next month.
"I would say we are at the halfway point of our plan, and are about 95 percent done drafting the recommendations that were given to us during meetings and public workshops," Joly said.
She added there are three issues that the county is still seeking input on, which include the old Franklin County Children Services building on Gantz Road; the zoning on Harrisburg Pike; and the redevelopment of Cooper Stadium.
The planning department plans to hold a working committee on either Sept. 9 or Sept. 16, and to hold public workshops for the area plan on either Sept. 23 or Sept. 30. Both dates will be announced in future editions of the Messenger.