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Burke Centre Candidate Forum Explores Issues

In a final push before the Burke Centre elections, candidates attended the special forum Wednesday night to establish their platforms. There are seven spots on the board in Burke Centre, five for each cluster and two at large. Six candidates are vying for the positions, and one vacant spot for the Landings cluster position, which could be filled with a late call-in candidate.

The two big issues this year are the special parking district Burke Centre is trying to establish and vandalism. Although the term is one year for each office, most offices are held for two years before the incumbent moves on. This year, none of the spots was challenged. The non-paid positions require dedication.

"There’s an extreme amount of time involved," said Burke Conservancy administrative assistant Heidi Bullock.

Olga Hernandez, president of The League of Women Voters, oversaw the candidate forum. The candidate roster included Greg Smith, a newcomer to The Woods; Art Steffan, an incumbent for an at-large position; Duwain Ketch, an incumbent for an at-large position; Colette Sheldon, a newcomer for The Ponds position; Marc Flaster, an incumbent at The Commons; Luanne Smith, a newcomer for The Oaks position; and The Landings remained vacant. Ballots are due by noon on Saturday, March 8.

The two at-large candidates, Steffen and Ketch, did not attend the forum.

Luanne Smith

Luanne Smith - The Oaks

Volunteers are what make the communities work, according to Smith, and she has already spent a significant amount of time promoting the spirit of volunteerism around The Oaks. Stressing the need is her secret.

"The reason I'm running is to get more volunteers. Where people see a need, they'll volunteer in droves," she said.

Two reasons she sees people not volunteering are time and not knowing what to volunteer for. Smith was a trustee for The Oaks from 1994-96.

"I'm coming back because I know I can do the job," she said.

To address the vandalism, Smith backed activities for teens and watch groups.

"I would like to have Neighborhood Watches," she said.

Colette Sheldon - The Ponds

Sheldon is concentrating on the parking issue, looking out for both sides. In the past, she's been part of the Burke Lake Road widening committee, on the fall festival committee and involved with the open space efforts.

"It's an issue," she said of the parking. "The degree of parking impacts some areas more than others," she said.

The community appearance is a factor behind the Architectural Review Board's standards.

"I think the standards help uphold the community appearance," she said.

Sheldon was worried about teen-agers hanging out, which she's noticed around her neighborhood. She recommends "looking out, keeping your eyes and ears out. Vandalism is happening, and it's costing our community."

Marc Flaster - The Commons

Flaster is concentrating on the parking efforts as well, pushing for the 75 percent of Burke Centre residents’ signatures on the petition to get it passed.

"I think it will be something that will really benefit the whole community," he said.

He's lived in The Commons for nine years and served on the Architectural Review Board as well.

Flaster doesn't believe vandalism is much of a factor in The Commons, and he urges calling the police if anything suspicious occurs.

Greg Smith - The Woods

Age has taken its toll on The Woods community center, and Smith intends to focus on several options there with input from the community. They started looking at the center this year, and he wants to examine either renovating or rebuilding the entire center.

"That's kind of the decision that needs to be made," he said.

Smith has also walked his neighborhood in search of participants for community efforts. As far as the architectural reviews, "we do need to have some more enforcement of that," he said.

Smith is for more lights and a Neighborhood Watch to address vandalism, as well as "putting something in the Conservator [newsletter] addressing it," he said.