Incumbents face challenge for Baldwin council seats
By Stephanie Hacke
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
In Baldwin Borough on Nov. 5, four-year council incumbents Larry Brown, Robert “Bob” Collet and John Conley and appointed incumbent Michael Ducker will face off against longtime school board member Kevin Fischer and Francis Scott.
All six sought the Democratic party's nomination in the May primary, and Conley, Ducker, Fischer and Scott won those nominations. Brown, Collet, Conley and Fischer won nominations on the Republican ticket with write-in votes.
Here's a look at the candidates vying for a seat in the election:
Francis Scott did not respond to calls seeking comment.
Brown, 69, has served on borough council for the last four years.
He is seeking re-election “to continue the forward movement of our borough,” he said.
The retiree is a California State College graduate who received his bachelor's and master's degrees in education. He serves as the chairman of Baldwin Council's public-safety committee, a member of Baldwin Emergency Medical Services and the Baldwin Borough Public Library's board of directors, and a volunteer at the Rivers of Steel. He is a member of Phi Delta Kappa.
If re-elected, Brown said, he hopes “to continue moving Baldwin forward in public safety by ensuring a well-trained police force; establishing a public safety fund to assist the fire companies in purchasing large ticket items and last, continuing to move forward with road improvements.”
“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.
Collet, 67, a Baldwin resident for 36 years, has served on council for the last four years.
He is seeking re-election “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 in a positive way,” he said.
Collet, who has been an advocate for improving Baldwin's road-paving program, said he hopes to continue that effort -- raising the borough's road program funding to $1.2 million a year.
In 2009, the road program's budget — 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 retiree who is a graduate of Villanova University.
Collet has been a member of Baldwin's civil service commission for 16 years and served as its chairman for 12 years. He also is known for the “extreme Christmas light display” that he assembles each year at his Julie Drive home.
If re-elected, Collet said, he hopes “to live a fruitful life and be a watchdog for the community.”
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 and serve the Borough that has given so much to me and my family,” Conley said.
Conley received an honorable discharge from the Navy and is a past captain in the Civil Air Patrol and past commander of the Three Rivers Composite Squadron 602. He also is a past president of South Hills Area Council of Governments. He was elected three times to serve as a steward for the salaried employees in United Steelworkers Local 3063 and is a member of Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees. Conley also is a past vice president of South Hills Industrial Development Corp. and now serves on the board of directors for Economic Development South.
Conley, a retired controller who received his bachelor's degree 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.
If re-elected, Conley said, he has several things he would like to accomplish during the next four years.
“Unfortunately, drugs are becoming an alarming problem lately in the South Hills, putting us in a higher risk for crime. I would strongly support the police department in their efforts to eradicate it,” Conley said.
Also, he said, he would like to see the continuation of the road-repaving project that is “proceeding nicely” and “cooperate with our neighboring boroughs in promoting joint activities for our residents, opening the door for grants to fund them.”
Michael R. Ducker, 59, has served more than eight years on Baldwin Borough Council, including from 2000 to 2008. He also was appointed in August to fill a five-month vacancy on council.
During his tenure, he served on nearly every committee and was council president, he said.
The 1972 graduate of Carrick High School in Pittsburgh attended classes at the Community College of Allegheny County for drafting before becoming a corrections officer. He now is retired.
He said he is seeking re-election because “I believe the residents of Baldwin Borough deserve council members who act in their best interest.”
“We must remember that the money we spend is taxpayer money, not ours, and that every resident cannot afford to give government a raise,” Ducker added.
Ducker said the main issue right now in Baldwin is problems with the storm sewers and their inability to accept water from larger-than-normal storms.
This problem arose because of changes in federal-government regulations and requirements that the storm systems no longer are allowed to empty into the sanitary sewer systems, Ducker said.
“That created a new problem with the storm-sewer system,” he said.
Fixing the problem won't be easy, but finding a way is important, he said.
If re-elected to council, Ducker said, he would like to focus on the relationship between borough and state officials in the hope of bringing more grants to Baldwin, he said.
“If you don't go to them and you don't ask, you're not going to get anything,” Ducker said.
Fischer, 51, has served on the Baldwin-Whitehall School Board since 2003.
Fischer, deputy treasurer of Allegheny County, said he 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 to 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.”
If elected to Baldwin Council, Fischer said, “I would want us to continue to provide borough services in the most cost-effective and efficient way possible. Also, I would like to have the comprehensive plan of where Baldwin wants to be in the future completed, supported and started.”
Francis Scott did not respond to calls seeking comment.
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or email@example.com.
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