History was made in Lancaster County today. Van Wyck voters cast their ballots to form the first council for their newly incorporated town.
Nine candidates vied for four seats on Van Wyck’s town council – William Acre, Kelly Bishop, Teri Currie, Bob Doster, Troy Elmore, Xavier Kee, Pat Oglesby, Richard Vaughan and Cassandra Watkins. In unofficial results, Vaughan led with 57 (22.98 percent) of the total 62 votes cast. Watkins had 40 votes (16.13 percent), followed by Kee with 37 (14.92 percent) and Doster with 33 (13.31). There were about 300 eligible voters for the election. Results will be certified later this week.
“Once the new council receives the oath of office this Saturday, we will begin the process of annexing properties to expand our town limits,” Vaughan said. “Over the next two years, we will be challenged in ways to maintain our small town atmosphere and to adapt to growth as we all know is soon to take place. It will be on-the-job training for us all.”
Managed growth was a common topic among voters at the polls. Mary Harris, a Van Wyck resident of 17 years, said she voted because she cares about the future of her community.
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“I’d like to see the town growing more, but not to the extent that Indian Land is growing,” Harris said. “I want it planned out so it’s not so congested and busy – a more controlled growth.”
Retired Navy veteran David Wiltsie, a 20-year resident of Van Wyck, said he wants the town to grow, but also stay somewhat confined. He doesn’t want the town to lose its character and become a bedroom community to Charlotte.
Watkins knows annexation is one of the first items on council’s agenda after creating the town’s bylaws. She said she felt honored she was chosen to serve.
“I pray that God will use my life to make a difference in my community,” she said.
After hearing the results of the election, Kee said he realized the great weight of the moment.
“This is something that will go down in history,” he said. “That I was elected as one of the first (council members) of Van Wyck. I thank the people for voting for me, they must see something in me that I can bring good to the town of Van Wyck.”
Annexation is also top on his priority list. He wants residents who’ve long been a part of the community to become included within the town’s incorporated limits.
We need to get a town clerk, all of the little things we need to take care of at the very beginning.
Newly elected councilman Bob Doster
Doster, an artist, said no matter who had won the election, Van Wyck would move forward because, “a good group of people” were in the race. He’s also interested in beginning the process of annexation after handling a bit of housekeeping.
“We need to get a town clerk, all of the little things we need to take care of at the very beginning,” he said. “But first and foremost, we’re going to get people who want to be part of Van Wyck in as quickly as we can.”
Sean Corcoran ran unopposed for the office of mayor.
“I appreciate the trust my neighbors have placed in all of the elected council members,” he said. “Creating a town from scratch falls completely outside our experiences. Launching the town with a solid foundation is going to require a significant effort and a steep learning curve for all of us.”
But the fact that these candidates cared enough about the future of Van Wyck to step up and offer their time and talents gives Corcoran confidence that they will rise to the oncoming challenges.
He sees three main goals for Van Wyck in the first few weeks: First, town council will want to enact the basic ordinances needed for town administration. Second, immediate growth – many Van Wyck community residents were left out of the initial town footprint due to population density requirements.
“These folks view themselves as part of Van Wyck and have expressed their intention to annex into the town as soon as possible, ” Corcoran said. “And third, we will start crafting a plan to address development and the town's role in the area's rapid economic growth.”
Stephanie Jadrnicek: firstname.lastname@example.org