KEEPING BEDFORD COUNTY STRONG
Government FOR The People
Deb believes that county government should be efficient, transparent and responsive to the needs of the people. She strives to conduct herself as a leader who serves at the pleasure of the people, treating all with dignity and respect by:
- Acting with integrity, speaking honestly, and working diligently
- Giving everyone a fair shake. There is no special treatment for the well-connected
- Providing fiscally responsible county management
- Maximizing grant funding. Deb seeks to appoint a county grants facilitator on a fee-for-service model to offset costs.
- Advocating for county wages and benefits competitive with other 6th class counties in order to recruit and retain capable employees
- Making it a priority to be available and accessible to all county residents in the communities where they live
- Providing current information on the county website, including all meetings open to the public
- As a member of the election board, seeking to provide additional online information and services to assist candidates, precincts, political parties, and the public; providing a voter-friendly election day experience
- Serving no more than two terms
- Fostering collaboration and teamwork
Reversing Bedford County Population Decline
“Our call to action must be to reverse our population decline. We must secure our future while preserving our small-town way of life.” -Deb Baughman
Bedford County’s population has been declining for several decades. A sobering statistic shows there are 25% fewer 1st graders than 12th graders in our county schools (source: PA Dept. of Education). On the campaign trail, Deb has heard the lament many times, “Our youth are leaving. There is nothing for them here.” The problem isn’t who is living here, but who isn’t – younger adults and young families.
Why Does Population Decline Matter?
Why does population decline matter? That leaves more peace and quiet for the rest of us, right? Wrong. It hurts all of us. It means a loss of generational family togetherness. It means a weak tax base to provide for municipal and school services. It means fewer customers supporting businesses and other service-providers, limiting their ability to locate here and remain open. Fewer skilled workers and fewer higher-paying jobs. Fewer caretakers for the elderly. Fewer home-buyers for property vacated by older adults. Fewer people and dollars to keep the Bedford County economy strong.
Higher Paying Jobs and Enhanced Broadband & Cellular Access
In today’s world, people are more mobile. Their choices are not limited by geography. This is often true of younger adults. They move where the higher-paying jobs are and where modern amenities such as broadband and cellular service can be easily accessed. They move where there is opportunity.
Taking Action: Strategic Growth
Data shows that growth is spreading west from the southeastern part of the state. It has reached the doorstep of Fulton County. Will that growth spread to Bedford? One PA projection model shows growth slowing down at Fulton County and turning north- through Huntingdon and Centre counties, bypassing Bedford altogether (source: PA Data Center). Deb does not believe that further decline is inevitable; however, it will likely be our fate if we don’t take action to turn things around. Deb believes we can prove this model wrong with smart, strategic action.
Putting the Plan for Growth Into Action
Tech Access, Business & Workforce Development, Recreational Amenities, and Public Health and Safety
Just like we prepare our homes in advance of house guests, we must make preparations that will attract and keep younger workers, families, employers, and service providers. Fortunately, some smart citizens from Bedford County have worked with regional partners to create a comprehensive plan in 2018 that was adopted by the commissioners. NOW WE WORK THE PLAN. The plan’s priorities include: Broadband and cellular service; business and workforce development; recreational amenities and natural assets; public health and safety; and collaboration and coordination. You can read the plan by visiting www.bedfordcountypa.org in the planning department section.
Building on Our Assets
We must recognize and build on our assets. Bedford County is an area whose strengths offer much promise.
- Historic main streets
- Citizens who know how to make a little go a long way through volunteerism, grit, and frugality
- A rich history and heritage
- A beautiful and diverse natural environment
- Easy access to highways
- A few hours to major cities and markets- close but not too close!
Bringing Bedford County Up to Speed
Countywide Broadband And Cellular Service Access
Deb believes the number one issue hampering our growth, impacting opportunity, and improving public safety is a lack of countywide broadband and cellular service. Like rural electrification in the 1930s, broadband and cellular connectivity is an expectation of modern life. While everyone talks about it and says progress is being made, it is still not a reality. In the meantime, Bedford County is left further behind.
Deb is immersing herself in this critical issue and working diligently with necessary partners to resolve this problem and bring Bedford County up to speed.
Creating and Maintaining Communities Where People Want To Live
Many people long to live close to nature and are nostalgic for small-town living where people know your name. By revitalizing our Main Streets to be inviting, walkable centers for commerce, shopping, dining, and events, we attract entrepreneurs to fill up our empty storefronts. By providing a variety of safe and affordable housing options, we can ensure a generational mix of residents to enrich our communities. Families with children are seeking communities with recreational activities. Assisting community leaders in revitalization efforts to create and maintain communities where people want to live is a focus for Deb.
Providing for the Well-Being and Health of Our Residents
Protecting and Utilizing Our Natural Assets
Many who are attracted to living in Bedford County seek an active lifestyle in the outdoors. Deb supports developing and promoting trails for hiking, walking, and biking and other outdoor sports and recreation. Protection and utilization of our natural assets provides both environmental and economic gain.
Protecting the Vulnerable
Maintaining programs for our most vulnerable residents – including children, the elderly and veterans – enables stronger families and individuals.
Addressing Drug & Alcohol Abuse
Deb also supports efforts to expand local drug and alcohol programs. 85% of those incarcerated in the county jail are being held due to drug and alcohol-related crimes. Addressing these issues is critical.
Making Healthcare More Affordable and Accessible
Making sure that healthcare services are locally accessible and affordable also encourages people to live and thrive here. Deb supports efforts to bring a birthing center to Bedford County, and by having broadband and cellular service, residents will also have access to telemedicine.
Strategically Developing and Fostering Local Talent
Economic strength and resilience across our communities is the goal. Resilience is the capacity for our county to be able to bounce back from economic downturns such as the Great Recession of 2008. It is moving multiple sectors and industries forward for economic development. As a commissioner, Deb serves as an ex-officio member of the Bedford County Development Association to contribute to their on-going work to cultivate entrepreneurs, recruit quality employers, and support economic development. In addition, Deb sees a critical need to bring higher wages to the county and is a strong advocate for this.
As a county, we must keep young people in our communities and provide them with the education and skills necessary to make a good life for themselves here at home. This takes collaboration and coordination between business, industry, schools, colleges and government- all focused on preparing a new generation of workers for emerging technologies and 21st century workplaces. As a retired career and workforce preparation teacher, Deb is working with area leaders to foster our local talent. Our county will also need to attract and welcome smart, young people from outside our community.
Tackling Other Rural Challenges
Deb will not allow the needs of our rural residents and communities to be an afterthought.
The current Board of Commissioners has been working to address aging and outdated infrastructure-deficient bridges, water line replacements, housing rehabilitation, etc. Deb is participating in this necessary and ongoing work, including maintenance of the courthouse and parking garage.
Additional challenges to rural communities are a lack of transportation options and the struggle to maintain rural emergency services. Deb is rolling up her sleeves and collaborating with leaders in these fields and advocating with state and federal officials to find solutions that provide a strong quality of life in Bedford County.