Candidates seek party's nomination for Baldwin Council
From holding the line on taxes to making improvements on borough streets and adding additional police officers, each of the seven candidates seeking to fill four open four-year term seats on Baldwin Borough Council has a clear focus for how they would spend their time in office.
Yet, nearly all of the candidates state that they want to continue making Baldwin Borough a better place to live for its residents and that is why the seven Democrats seek their party's nomination for a seat on council in the May 21 primary.
No one has filed to run as a Republican.
All seven candidates have dedicated years to Baldwin Borough and the Baldwin-Whitehall School District, serving in various positions during the last several decades.
Incumbents Larry Brown, Robert “Bob” Collet and John Conley will square off against former council member Michael Ducker, former school board member E. John Egger, current school board member Kevin Fischer and Francis Scott for the nomination.
Four-year Baldwin council incumbent Edward Moeller, who is not seeking reelection on borough council, instead is running for the office of mayor against Council President David Depretis, who has two years left on his term on council.
Francis Scott did not respond to questions from the South Hills Record.
Here's a look at the candidates:
Larry Brown, 69, has served on Baldwin Borough council for the last four years.
He is seeking reelection “to continue the forward movement of our borough,” he said.
The retired California State College graduate, who received his bachelor's and master's degrees in education, serves as the chairman of Baldwin Council's public safety committee, as a member of Baldwin Emergency Medical Services and the Baldwin Borough Public Library's board of directors, volunteers at the Rivers of Steel and is a member of Phi Delta Kappa.
“It is my hope that I have proved my sincerity in representing the people of Baldwin Borough. I'm proud that the number of paved street miles has increased, and public safety meetings have been initiated. The mayor and the emergency management co-coordinator attended these meetings which incorporated our police department, volunteer fire companies, Baldwin Emergency Medical Services and public works,” he said.
If re-elected Brown said he would like to work to improve public safety in Baldwin by adding two police officer, he said.
Robert “Bob” Collet
Robert “Bob” Collet, 67, a Baldwin resident for 36 years, has served on council for the last four years.
He is seeking reelection “to assist in the completion of programs that have been started during my service as councilman. Bringing these programs to fruition will benefit our borough,” he said.
Collet, who has been an advocate for improving Baldwin's road-paving program, said he hopes to continue that effort -- raising road program funding to $1.2 million a year.
In 2009, the road program - which finances repairs to borough streets, was zero.
“Since this council was formed we have raised the road program to $800,000. This has been a large step in the right direction however; we are not where we need to be to achieve an adequate road program,” said Collet, a graduate of Villanova University, who is now retired.
Collet has been a member of Baldwin's civil service commission for 16 years, and served as a chairman of it for 12 years. He also is known for his “extreme Christmas light display” that he assembles each year at his Julie Drive home.
John R. Conley
John R. Conley has served on Baldwin Borough council for the last four years and a total of 11 years.
He is seeking re-election “to give back to the borough that has given so much to me and my family in the 38 years we have lived here,” he said.
Conley, a retired controller who received his bachelor's of science in business administration and psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, said his main goal is to hold the line on taxes.
“I am against raising taxes as over 20 percent of our residents are either retired or on fixed incomes,” he said. “Also in the past few years, there has been a movement to consolidate all Allegheny County boroughs; I am steadfastly against it. We have a very good road crew that keeps our roads clear of snow throughout the winter unlike the side streets of Pittsburgh. I want to continue working within a balanced budget each year,” he said.
Michael R. Ducker
Michael R. Ducker, 59, served on Baldwin Borough Council from 2000 to 2008.
During his tenure, he served on “almost every committee” and was council president.
Seeking reelection in 2007, Ducker and fellow candidates Michael Stelmasczyk and David Depretis won their party's nomination by a 2-to-1 margin, he said.
A corrections officer then, he learned that his candidacy for Baldwin Council was a violation of the “Hatch Act,” he said, because he was a government employee whose position was subsidized by federal funds.
Ducker said he hired an attorney and was going to appeal, but learned his job could be in jeopardy. So, he withdrew his candidacy after the 2007 primary, despite having won the nomination, he said. He was allowed to continue the remainder of this term.
“The people spoke. It's a shame because it's something that I couldn't contest,” he said. “I don't think the government should be the one that should remove a candidate. The people should have a choice.”
Retiring from his position with the county last July after 28 years, Ducker said he wanted to resume what he was doing before leaving borough council.
“I wouldn't sign a check unless I made sure that I knew where the money was going,” he said. “I want to spend the borough's money the way I spend my own.”
His focus will be to hold the line on taxes, he said.
“A lot of families are just living day to day,” Ducker said.
E. John Egger
E. John Egger, 62, served on the Baldwin-Whitehall School Board from 2000 to 2004 and 2009 to 2011.
He is seeking a position on Baldwin Borough council because, “I want to give back to my community.”
Egger, who graduated from South Hills High School in 1970 and is semi-retired and working to get his real-estate license active, said he stands out from the others because he lives in north Baldwin Borough, while others live in the central or southern parts of the municipality.
“I feel council members should be from a spread of the borough,” he said.
An example is that “all of the roads to be repaired (this year) are in the south end of our borough. It should have been equal,” he said.
Road repairs will be his focus, he said.
Egger currently is a member of Baldwin Borough's planning commission and has served on the borough's zoning hearing board. He also is a past member of the Baldwin High School music patrons as well as the band parents.
Kevin J. Fischer
Kevin J. Fischer, 50, has served on the Baldwin-Whitehall School Board since 2003.
Fischer, the assistant deputy treasurer with Allegheny County, is seeking a position on Baldwin Borough Council because he wants “to continue serving the citizens of Baldwin Borough at the municipal level instead of the school district level,” he said.
His focus will be “to have Baldwin positioned to attract young families to move into, or stay living in, the borough,” Fischer said.
“The borough needs to assist in every way possible to make Baldwin a ‘go to' community – live, work, play, shop,” Fischer said. “It needs to provide quality services at a reasonable cost while it looks to the future and where/how it can grow. What kind of community do we want Baldwin Borough to be in 10-20 years? The comprehensive planning project that has begun is a good start to ‘position' ourselves. Where that takes us as a borough will be council's task and it needs to work cooperatively to ‘position' itself to get there.”
Fischer said his 10 years on the Baldwin-Whitehall School Board will help him as a councilman.
“As we are all ‘products' of our life's experiences, and each person brings certain individual qualities to the ‘table,' the one constant of being a member of a legislative body is the need to compromise in order to lead and achieve,” he said. “That lesson is one that I do not need to learn after serving 10 years on the school board.”
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.