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Race for McCandless council heats up

Tony LaRussa
| Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Bill Kirk
Bill Kirk
Barbara Richards
Barbara Richards
Joan Powers
Joan Powers
Tim Glackin
Tim Glackin
Ralph LeDonne
Ralph LeDonne
Carolyn Schweiger
Carolyn Schweiger

A pair of Democrats running for McCandless council will have to overcome an edge in Republican registration — or sway enough independent or other party voters — to win seats in the Nov. 7 general election.

In Ward 2, Democrat Barbara Richards is facing off against Republican Bill Kirk for the seat held by council President Gerard Aufman, who is not seeking reelection. Richards and Kirk ran uncontested in the May primary.

There are 1,200 registered Democrats in Ward 2 compared to 1,430 Republicans, a difference of 17.49 percent. There also are 254 people registered with another party or who are unaffiliated, according to Allegheny County election records.

Incumbent Ward 4 Councilwoman Joan Powers ran uncontested in the GOP primary and no Democrats sought their party's nomination in the spring. But Democrat Tim Glackin received enough write-in votes — 77 — to secure a spot on the ballot.

In most municipal races, only 10 write-in votes are needed in the primary to get on the ballot for the general election.

In Ward 4, Republicans outnumber Democrats 1,424 to 1,308, a difference of 8.49 percent, election records show. There are 396 other voters in the ward who are unaffiliated or belong to different parties.

In the town's Ward 6, incumbent Councilman Ralph LeDonne fended off a GOP primary challenge from Carolyn Schweiger, who switched from Democrat to Republican prior to the primary.

Even though LeDonne received 62.9 percent of the Republican primary votes compared to 37.1 percent for Schweiger, she got 94 write-in votes from Democrats to win a spot on the general election ballot.

There are 1,296 Democrats registered in Ward 6 compared to 1,484 Republicans, a difference of 13.52 percent. There also are 476 voters who are unaffiliated or members of other political parties.

Following are the responses from candidates to the question: What is the most significant issue facing the municipality in the next four years and what will you do to address it if elected?

Ward 2

Barbara Richards

Party: Democrat

Home: Manor Court

Occupation: Retired

Previous elected office: None

The most significant issue facing McCandless is to ensure that planning and development is done in the best interest of the people of McCandless. As our community grows, we have to meet the needs of our expanding senior population as well as young families. Council's decisions that impact our community must be made only after robust public engagement, which is respectfully considered and acted upon.

I believe that oversight of planning, zoning and spending is key to a successful community. A sharp eye to responsible spending will keep our taxes stable while continuing to maintain and improve the quality of our lives in McCandless.

I will serve with integrity and work tirelessly to protect the assets of our community and the life we enjoy in McCandless.

Bill Kirk

Party: Republican

Home: Ridgeview Drive

Occupation: VP of operations

Previous elected office: None

In 2004, McCandless lost its local YMCA to flooding from Hurricane Ivan.

In addition to working to reduce flooding and protecting our environment, I will provide leadership for our town to undertake a study for a new community center. Only after we all understand the true community needs and costs, can we work together on an affordable solution that meets the needs of the whole community.

I will promote forward-looking planning to create walkable connections between the various parts of our town and connect people through community holiday activities and recreation programs scheduled around working families.

This is my plan to meet the most significant issue; building the missing connections between our people, our places and our environment, to enhance our sense of community.

Ward 4

Tim Glackin

Party: Democrat

Home: Sloop Road

Occupation: Property owner

Previous elected office: None

I think fiscal responsibility will be the most significant issue facing our municipality over the next four years. For example: over the past years, reserves in our budget have trickled downward, due to lack of planning and wasteful spending. I would suggest solutions like implementing selective departmental budget cuts, renegotiating some contracted services and promoting volunteerism more efficiently.

Better collaboration with other local municipalities will help cut costs of purchasing and other services. Finally, we need to pursue state/federal grants more effectively for capital projects. There are other aspects to better financial management, but at least these ideas would replace the reserves that have been irresponsibly spent down and provide financial stability without tax increases, so that McCandless remains vibrant in the future.

Joan Powers

Party: Republican

Home: Breezewood Drive

Occupation: Retired teacher

Previous elected office: One term on council

The most significant issue facing the municipality in the coming years is the creation of a new comprehensive plan for the Town of McCandless. As we construct this plan we must review such items as infrastructure, quality of life in a changing society, recreation and the environment.

It is our obligation to listen to the needs and interests of the citizenry and evaluate how these can become a part of our future. This is our opportunity to build on the programs that have made McCandless a “Banner Community.”

As your councilwoman, I will actively participate in the creation and implementation of this plan. As chair of the finance committee I will insist on sound capital planning to provide services at optimal cost.

My objective is to ensure and enhance the quality of life that we have come to expect in our community. I look forward to continuing my service to the citizens of the Town of McCandless.

Ward 6

Carolyn Schweiger

Party: Republican

Home: Perrymont Road

Occupation: Corporate event planner

Previous elected office: None

I believe the issue of greatest importance facing McCandless is town council's continued lack of transparency. Secret meetings, recently documented violation of the State's Sunshine Law, and consistent disregard for input from the town's citizens are at the root of many of our problems.

We wouldn't have the wasteful spending, poor investments and depletion of our reserve which will lead to increased taxes. If elected, I would work with like-minded council members to reduce the number of non-public meetings, eliminate all Sunshine Law violations and provide our community with timely knowledge of what council is doing so they can contribute their ideas.

McCandless is a wonderful place to live. With improved transparency and input from all citizens, we can make better decisions that benefit everyone.

Ralph LeDonne

Party: Republican

Home: Peebles Road

Occupation: Retired police chief

Previous elected office: Three terms on council

The first priority of government is public safety. I have worked to improve and modernize our police and fire services to where they are among the most skilled and highly respected in the area.

The opioid crisis is a significant issue in McCandless. I have approved the acquisition of a dual purpose police dog to assist with controlling illicit drugs, finding lost or missing persons and apprehending criminals.

I was in the forefront of the Wexford Flats improvement project, which has reduced crashes by almost 90 percent. I approved the building of the new Ingomar fire hall and several new pieces of firefighting apparatus to help our firefighters better protect persons and property.

I will continue to address these issues in a cost-effective manner.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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