Penn Hills' Wiegand looks to parlay momentum from election primary into progress
Kris Wiegand, 38, said his goal always has been to improve his community, whether it was from a General Assembly seat or not.
“People said, ‘You can't beat Tony (DeLuca);' this time, they were right,” said Wiegand, a Greensburg attorney who mounted an unsuccessful challenge in the 32nd District Democratic primary last month against the longtime Penn Hills representative.
The results didn't go his way, “but people responded, and we want to take that and move it forward,” he said.
With that in mind, Wiegand has begun the process of registering the Love Thy Neighbor Network as a nonprofit organization, with the goal of building its ranks and initiating projects that will prove positive for local residents.
After his loss in the primary, Wiegand said he continued to receive feedback from district residents who were ready to get out and work to better their community.
Melissa Waldron of Penn Hills found Wiegand's website during primary season and soon after began working on social media promoting his candidacy.
“When he announced that he hadn't won, he also said he wasn't done,” Waldron said.
“A group of us were encouraging him to stay in the public eye, and to realize that his job doesn't have to end there.”
Wiegand said it was an easy decision to keep going.
“I wanted also to continue to work and improve Penn Hills, taking the political part out of it,” he said.
“The political part was a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.”
Wiegand is also setting goals for the network.
Short range, he would like to organize community projects such as litter cleanup efforts, and he is working with members of Hebron United Presbyterian Church on Frankstown Road to open a farmers market in Penn Hills.
He also has tried to engage school district and municipal officials about the future of the Penn Hebron Elementary School property; the municipality has shown interest in the school as a potential future location.
“It's not about me,” he said. “It's about people having the sense that their lives are improving every day.”
Waldron said bringing in new faces is key.
“We want people to know that there are members of the community who are willing to go out and lend a hand,” she said.
“We want to start a small volunteer group to do community days of action, whether it's litter cleanup, helping a food pantry, cleaning a blight property — wherever we're needed.”
Anyone interested in being a part of the Love Thy Neighbor Network is asked to call 412-925-6453 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or email@example.com.