9 candidates seek nominations for 5 seats on New Stanton Borough council
By A.J. Panian
Published: Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 11:30 p.m.
In the nomination race for five available seats on New Stanton Borough Council, nine people — three incumbents, one board appointee and five challengers — have registered as candidates in the May 21 primary election, according to unofficial records of the Westmoreland County Election Bureau.
Incumbents vying for the Democratic nomination for four, four-year seats are borough council President Scott C. Sistek and borough council Vice President Linda Echard. Democratic challengers include former councilmen Robert Quinn, David Steinmeyer and Tom Theis, along with current borough planning commissioner Raymond E. Strosko.
The Republican ticket includes incumbent Brandon J. Clawson, board member Dean L. Clark and challenger Phil Keilbach, a member of the borough's zoning hearing board. Because there are fewer Republicans appearing on the ballot than seats available, those three names will likely appear on Nov. 5 general election ballot.
All the candidates vying for the nominations for the four-year seat are also seeking party nods for a single seat carrying a two-year term, with the exception of Steinmeyer.
If one of the candidates is elected to both the two-year and four-year seats in November, they will be able to choose between which seat they want to fill, according to the county elections bureau.
Sistek, 54, is seeking a fourth consecutive term on council.
Initially elected as a write-in candidate in 2001, he has been selected by his peers to serve as president of council since 2004.
“In 2005, I was the top vote getter. In 2009, I won both the four-year and the two-year seat, which I relinquished,” Sistek said.
He is employed as director/chief sealer of the Westmoreland County Bureau of Weights & Measures.
Sistek's longevity on council comes from his ability to effectively govern locally while networking with neighboring municipalities, along with county and state agencies, he said.
He was appointed to the borough code revision committee of the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs in 2004 and in 2005 appointed chairman of the group.
After seven years of work by Sistek and the committee, Gov. Tom Corbett last May signed into law Act 43 of 2012 — a revised statewide borough code — effective in July.
“The experience I have in-county and in-state, and the contacts I've made through those avenues, can help to build working relationships with New Stanton for growth and progress into the future,” Sistek said.
On council, he said he established the borough's annual community yard sale in 2004, helped providing water service to Arona residents by acquiring Community Development Block Grant funding allotted by the county and negotiated an intermunicipal agreement with Hunker Borough for public works services.
Sistek said the borough has a great opportunity for growth with the planned I-70 interchange project.
“This is a critical time for us, and I want to be an instrument to help and move New Stanton in the right direction,” he said.
• Echard is pursuing a second term on council after being elected in 2009.
She was appointed the body's vice president in 2010.
“I'm the only female on council right now, and there's no females running for council right now, so I bring that perspective,” Echard said.
Echard is employed as principal at Dr. Cleveland Steward Jr. Elementary School in the Gateway School District in Monroeville.
She said she is seeking re-election to make New Stanton a more attractive and livable place.
“I want to be a part of the future growth and development in the borough,” Echard said.
Echard established council's workplace safety committee, which she said has saved the borough thousands in workman's compensation claims.
“One of our goals this year is to promote wellness and safety in the community,” she said.
As chairwoman of council's building and real estate committee, Echard looks to transform a building the borough purchased in 2010 from Verizon into the borough's new public works garage/administrative headquarters.
“Our thought is to build out from that existing building to include borough offices, tax collection offices and a meeting room,” she said.
Echard said she will work to be a voice for those who elect her.
“The only way to do that is to gather input from the people and know what they are thinking,” she said.
• Clawson, 35, has served on council since 2009.
He is employed as director of real estate for Rue 21 in Warrendale.
“I come from the business world, and I think our borough should be run like a business, and it would treat residents as customers,” Clawson said. “We're currently not giving them the best customer service.”
In 2011, Clawson was appointed as chairman of council's personnel committee.
In that role, recently submitted recommendations for more efficiently utilizing borough staff and resources based on research the committee conducted on municipalities statewide.
“We have suggested multiple items that, from our point of view, will make us more efficient and will help us be better stewards for our residents,” Clawson said.
Clawson said he also helped develop a new handbook detailing policies and procedures for borough employees. He also said he adjusted the hours of the borough staff to better accommodate residents with questions.
The hiring of a borough manager is something Clawson said he hopes can be accomplished during his tenure on council.
The board recently voted to adopt an ordinance creating the position. Council is currently searching for someone to fill that role.
“That person is going to have to wear the hat of a business manager and actively pursue additional businesses to relocate here, as well as helping businesses within the community,” he said. “We're not going to take that task lightly. We're going to take our time and focus on finding the right candidate.”
Clark, 75, was appointed in November 2012 to complete a vacated term which expires Dec. 31.
He previously served on council in the early 1990s, when he said he helped with completion of New Stanton Park and installation of a concession stand there.
Prior to that, Clark served on the New Stanton Recreation Board, an entity he said he helped form in 1968.
“I've lived here for 47 years, and I've been involved in all kinds of activities,” Clark said. “They asked me to come on council to look after the (I-70) project.”
A career carpenter who worked for 33 years as general superintendent for Ross & Kennedy Corp., Clark is the chairman of the I-70 interchange project committee.
“That's the main reason (the borough) came to me to be chairman of that committee,” he said. “PennDOT has been working really great with the borough. They've had several meetings with business owners to accommodate their needs.”
Clark would like to carry on with the work associated with that project, along with seeing through development of the new borough building, he said.
“I want to finish what I started,” he said.
Keilbach, 57, is a borough native who has worked for 35 years as a pipeline welder and in pipeline operations. Since 2010, he has been employed as a valve/pipe technician for MarkWest Energy Partners LP of Washington, Pa.
Keilbach is serving his second term on the zoning hearing board.
He said he wants to help promote the growth of the borough and its industries.
“I want our borough to be on the list of the most livable municipalities in the area,” he said.
To do that, Keilbach said he would like to establish a recreation center for residents and more viable transit options.
He said the resulting change in traffic patterns in and out of the borough from the I-70 project will overwhelm the current capabilities of current roads there.
“We have to grow from this interchange with motorist-friendly traffic patterns throughout the borough,” Keilbach said.
If elected, Keilbach said he would strive to communicate with constituents.
“I just want to be there to listen to people, and I want to answer the questions they need to have answered,” he said.
• Quinn, 52, a borough resident since 1999, has been employed 25 years as service supervisor for Minerals Technology based in New York City.
He previously served a four-year term on council from 2006 to 2010.
Quinn said one of council's notable accomplishments during that time came with the purchase of new, $250,000 ladder truck for the borough's volunteer fire department.
“It took us a good two years to work through everything, finalize the deal and get the truck delivered,” he said.
He said he also helped council revise the borough's zoning regulations.
“There was no room for any businesses to expand to,” Quinn said. “We spaced things out to where there is room for businesses to expand.”
Quinn is currently serving for the second time on the borough's planning commission, where he has worked to create a new comprehensive plan which has made ordinances more user-friendly, he said.
If elected, Quinn said he would seek bipartisan cooperation and attempt to bring new businesses to town.
“I'm not an extremist. I want to work with both sides and try to come to a mutual agreement or a compromise,” Quinn said.
• Steinmeyer, 55, is the proprietor of Ruffsdale-based Dave's Landscaping, previously served on borough council in the 1980s.
“Now there's this highway project on Route 70 that's in the planning stages, and I was hoping to contribute some input to that,” he said.
In elected, Steinmeyer said he would also stress the need for both proactive stormwater management to prepare for development and improved directional signs.
“If you're not planning ahead to make sure the sewer systems can handle growth, you're just cutting them off,” Steinmeyer said. “And it takes a while for GPS systems to catch up to new construction.”
As a past president of the New Stanton Business Association, Steinmeyer said he helped increase the group's overall membership.
• Strosko, 59, was appointed earlier this year on the borough planning commission and served on it twice previously.
A borough resident since 1994, he is a machinist for Trafford-based Cleveland Price and worked for 40 years previously as a homebuilder.
“I served as planning commission president in 2007 and 2008. I got the position because of the background knowledge I have in homebuilding,” said Strosko, who led construction of Woodfield Estates locally.
If elected, Strosko said he would push for term limits on council.
“Eight years and you're out,” he said.
Strosko said would also offer his insights to aid in efforts to expand the recently purchased borough building, and to help plan for growth spurred by the highway project.
“I'd like to see things being built, and I'd like to have a hand in making sure they are being built correctly,” he said. “I like working with people, and I like telling them what I know.”
• Theis, 55, is a borough native who served previously on council from 2002 to 2006.
He is both a borough landlord and the proprietor of Tom Theis Clock and Watch Repair, a business he established in 1980.
“I'm the fourth generation of my family living in this town,” Theis said.
During his previous time on council, Theis aided in revising the borough's zoning ordinance, a task which again awaits council in the coming years with the pending road project, he said.
“That's going to change everything; there will be new real estate opening up for future development,” Theis said.
“I want to have a hand in shaping that.”
Among his views for borough growth, Theis said he would like to help attract more office buildings and less come-and-go retail establishments.
“We have enough motels and gas stations. With the (I-70) project, maybe more corporate offices would come in from Pittsburgh because the taxes are lower here and the access to the highway is right there,” he said.
If elected, Theis said he would serve his constituents with honesty and integrity.
“I would strive to give the people both a voice and an ear to listen to their concerns,” he said.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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