Business prowess factors into Mt. Lebanon commissioners race
Both men running for the only contested seat on the Mt. Lebanon Board of Commissioners say they want to bring their business backgrounds to the panel.
Democrat Steve Silverman is the controller and co-owner of General Wire Spring Co. and Republican Jack Doyle is retired from running capital projects for various chemical companies.
“Forty percent of the township's budget is spent on capital projects and maintenance,” Doyle said. “That's what I did for 40 years before I retired. I think I can bring some insight into a lot of that spending and possibly reduce it.”
“The commission needs another perspective,” Silverman said. He used as an example when commissioners weighed additional inspections and registrations for apartment properties, until they were surprised by landlords' complaints about the potential trouble that would cause their business. “As a businessman, I've been on the receiving end of some of these regulations.”
Silverman and Doyle are running to replace Commissioner Matt Kluck, the only Republican on the panel, and represent Ward 2 in the southwestern part of Mt. Lebanon. Kluck is not running for re-election.
Both men said they'd make economic development a priority if they win the seat, and said they'd press the commission to take more action on developable but unused land, such as the overgrown Zamagias property at the corner of Washington and Bower Hill roads.
“I don't think the commission has been aggressive enough to get that property developed,” Silverman said. “We should be calling the owners into every meeting for updates ... ask them, ‘Are we there yet?' like kids on a car ride.”
“We can't force developers to develop, but we can work with them to see what they need,” Doyle said. “The thing I'm looking at is moving forward as a township, not resting on our laurels.”
Doyle said he'd like to see continued and expanded events such as First Fridays, Plein Air and ULTRAparty in Mt. Lebanon's business districts, which he said help set the community apart from suburban neighbors such as Upper St. Clair and Peters.
Silverman said he would budget more money for the traffic board, which is in charge of weighing and recommending traffic control and calming measures.
“The traffic board just isn't getting enough money,” he said. “$50,000 doesn't buy a lot of speed bumps.”
Doyle said he disagreed with the commission on its use of undesignated fund balances — money that's either unspent at the end of past years or revenue that comes in higher than expected — to fund capital projects. If Mt. Lebanon consistently pulls in more money than it's spending, perhaps the commission should consider lowering taxes, he said.
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.