SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP – Stone R. Helsel, who got his start serving Springfield Township as a teenager, has announced his candidacy for township supervisor.
“I have a track record in Springfield,” he said.
He was named a junior member of the Springfield Township Planning Commission in 2017 when he was 17, and he became a full-fledged member in 2018 when he turned 18.
Helsel, 20, who is now chair of the planning commission, is running on the Democratic ticket in the May 18 primary for the six-year supervisor position.
Dave Swartz, current chair of the board of supervisors, is not seeking reelection; his term expires Dec. 31.
Helsel said he has been endorsed by Swartz and the two other supervisors, Tim Stiffy and Joe Mattace. So far, no other candidates have come forward.
This is the first time that Helsel has run for office. He feels that his time with the planning commission has taught him a lot about the township, and he gets along with township employees and officials.
“You have to be a team player,” he said.
The lifelong township resident has learned more about capital improvements, economic development and environmental issues.
Springfield Township is small but has a lot to offer, like residential, commercial and rural areas, good schools, recreation, low crime and a diversity of viewpoints and backgrounds, he said.
“It really is a microcosm of American life,” said Helsel, a Grove City High School graduate who is a sophomore at Slippery Rock University.
He’s been able to work with a variety of people and wants to continue to serve fellow citizens, working “across the aisle” regardless of political affiliation.
The township is at a crossroads in regards to the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on businesses and the local economy.
Bold leadership is needed for the township move forward, and Helsel wants to help make it a better place to live, work and raise a family.
The community has been good to him, and he wants to return the favor.
He acknowledges that he’s younger than the average elected official, but he’s found that people are receptive to a younger voice because he brings a different perspective to the table.
Helsel hopes he’s helping pave the way for other young folks to get involved with their local governments, even if that simply means encouraging them to vote.
“Your vote does matter,” he said.
If elected, Helsel will remain on the planning commission and continue to focus on his studies at SRU, where he’s majoring in secondary education. He’d like to teach history.
Helsel works part-time at Grove City Premium Outlets, and enjoys traveling and spending time with friends and family. That includes his brothers; the three of them are triplets.
He is chair of the Springfield Township Vacancy Board and the township’s representative for the Mercer County Regional Planning Commission and the Shenango Valley Area Transportation Metropolitan Planning Organization.