5 seeking to fill 3 seats on Verona Council
Three incumbents and two newcomers hope to earn the Democratic Party nod for three seats on Verona Council.
Council President Sandy Drabicki-Bell, Vice President Dom Conte and Councilwoman Sylvia Provenza seek to retain their elected positions while Michael Forbeck and David Matlin wish to start their political endeavors.
All are registered Democrats. No Republicans are on the ballot.
Third consecutive terms for Drabicki-Bell and Conte will end this year. Provenza is in the final year of her first term.
“I’m interested in Verona’s future with these new businesses moving in, a lot of new residents will be moving in and I think it’s a vibrant town,” Drabicki-Bell said. “I think it’s a livable town. It’s a safe environment. I’m not going anywhere. I feel I can (continue to) represent Verona in an open-minded and objective view.”
Drabicki-Bell, 62, a retired Riverview School District special education teacher, has a master’s degree in general education from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s in educational administration from Duquesne University. She also has at least five educational certifications.
“I’ve lived here long enough to know what Verona used to be,” she said. “My mother didn’t drive, so we would always walk the town. I think a comprehensive plan would be a great idea. I think that would determine Verona’s future with both short- and long-term goals.”
Conte, 51, graduated from Penn Hills High School in 1985 and moved to Verona in the early 2000s.
He founded Tunnel Construction, an excavating company, about 33 years ago.
“I like this town,” Conte said. “A lot of good things are happening. I like to think I contributed, along with everybody. We’re focusing on the business district right now trying to get new businesses in. We’re working on parking. We’re trying to make some changes for that, and just welcoming new businesses. Everything that we’ve done the last three terms that I’ve been here is geared toward bettering the community.”
Forbeck, 61, grew up in Verona’s Hilltop section. He graduated from Penn Hills in 1976 and moved back to the borough 16 years ago.
Forbeck retired as the state Department of Environmental Protection’s program manager for its waste management bureau. He’s the Verona parks and recreation board chairman and participated in multiple beautification efforts.
It’s his first time running for council. He, too, wants to update the borough’s comprehensive plan.
“I’ve been involved in the community and never had the opportunity to go the next step because I was working for the state,” he said. “Once I retired, I thought this would be a good move and great time to represent Verona and be more hands on in making things happen. I enjoy working with people and help people come to a consensus and deal with problems.”
Matlin, 35, is running for his first political office. He graduated from Penn State University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2006.
He’s worked for Port Authority of Allegheny County a little more than three years and serves as its senior project engineer.
Matlin grew up in Perry Hall, a small town just outside of Baltimore. He moved to the Pittsburgh area in 2007 and has been in Verona a little more than two years.
He said communication and transparency by council to Verona’s residents are major issues.
“I just felt like the current council wasn’t very engaged with the residents,” he said. “I attended several council meetings. I feel it’s hard for residents to have a voice. I feel like I have some of the knowledge and experience to make the kind of connection and start to do some of the things to help and improve in those areas.”
He said he plans to revamp the borough website, post meeting agendas and minutes as well as develop a new comprehensive plan if elected.
Provenza, 77, is in her final year of her first term on council. She is a graduate of Verona High School, now Riverview High School, and has a business degree from Robert Morris University.
She also studied at the School of Natural Healing with a focus on herbs and nutrition, and is the director of Freedom of Choice in Health and Nutrition Organization in Oakmont.
“For the past four years, I’ve had the honor of serving the residents of this community to the best of my ability,” Provenza said. “As a longtime resident/homeowner in Verona, I am passionate about making sure Verona continues to progress now and long into the future. Verona has always been a safe community in which to live and raise a family. As a member of council and many community organizations, I pledge to do everything possible to make sure that continues.”
Among the initiatives Provenza wants to accomplish is the relocation of the borough’s salt dump from riverfront property to another location, and the placement of additional security cameras throughout the borough to increase public safety.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .