Meet the candidates: Jefferson Hills Council | TribLIVE.com
South Hills

Meet the candidates: Jefferson Hills Council

1810584_web1_shr-kingsley-102419
Submitted
James D. Kingsley
1810584_web1_shr-lewis-102419
Submitted
Michael Lewis
1810584_web1_shr-steffey-102419
Submitted
Melissa Girman-Steffey
1810584_web1_shr-ruscitto-102419
Submitted
Nicole Ruscitto
1810584_web1_shr-bucy-102419
Submitted
Karen Bucy

Jefferson Hills Council candidates say public safety and transparency in local leadership are at the forefront of issues that need to be addressed in the municipality. Six newcomers will square off on Nov. 5 for three open, four year seats on borough council.

The Trib asked each candidate three questions. Here are their answers.

Karen Bucy

Political affiliation: Democrat

Municipality: Jefferson Hills

Why did you decide to run for election? I have been attending JH Council meetings since I retired from teaching in South Park School District. My desire was to become more informed on local issues. I want JH Council to treat residents and other JH council members with respect and dignity. I believe that I can help restore common sense, civility and a spirit of cooperative alliance on the board in order to protect the residents of our community. We should be able to work together and move forward productively.

What is the biggest issue that needs to be addressed? Currently, the UPMC hospital issue and EQT fracking issue seem to be at rest. However, a watchful presence regarding the two issues still needs to be in place. As a result, the internal JH Community tissue of the Jefferson Hills Firehall merger remains in the forefront.

This is a personal issue for me since my father, Ned Barbarich, was a longest-living lifetime member of Pleasant Hills Fire Department before his passing. I sincerely appreciate all the men and women who volunteer their time and service to our community. It is disheartening and disappointing that the JH Fire Department merger has come to a standstill and caused unnecessary division in our community. Fire safety and protection for this entire community without causing an additional tax burden to our residents is a priority. Since our JH community consists of 16.9 square miles, it is essential to have 3 local operating departments spread out among the borough to serve both our residents and schools in the event of a fire. I fully recognize that the decrease in volunteers has caused a manpower issue. Therefore, a consolidation of the three local departments can serve to provide additional assistance, equipment, and services. Communication from all the parties involved must be resumed so that a mutually agreed upon agreement of facilities, workforce and by-laws can be agreed upon.

What do voters need to know about you? I have lived in Jefferson Hills for the past 18 years with my husband and son. I am a retired South Park School District reading and English 7th and 8th (grade) teacher. I have over 30 years of experience working with unions, collective bargaining process and contracts. Respecting and listening to a variety of people’s opinions and researching the facts of the community’s issues is a crucial component to be a public servant. Communication, long term planning, and ability to the bring a compromised closure to issues are strengths that I possess.

Nicole Ruscitto

Party affiliation: Democrat

Municipality: Jefferson Hills

Why did you decide to run for office? I have always been a proud community member of Jefferson Hills. With a focus on property owners’ rights, I felt compelled to enter the race. I formerly lived at the border of Pleasant Hills and Jefferson Borough. Having strong roots in a community speaks volumes as to the care and commitment I will express. With that said, I also believe that transparency must be at the forefront of our new elected leadership. I have a vested interest in responsible and transparent decision making, regardless of the issue at hand. I welcome the input and challenges ahead and strive to keep the aesthetic character I love about Jefferson Hills at the forefront for our future generations. Community must come first regarding local business, public safety and appropriate community development.

What is the biggest issue that needs to be addressed? Positive communication skills and transparency must be at the forefront of local government. Being in education for 22 years, I have learned that listening and evaluating input is the best way to learn and lead. If elected, I promise to lend my ear (to) the community monthly at the local borough building. Local residents need a forum other than the monthly council meetings to be heard. I speak from experience that it can be somewhat intimidating to voice concerns at a council meeting.

What should voters know about you? I am a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School and currently have two children in the district. I have taught and coached children in public schools for over 22 years. My late father, George Stoicovy and mother, Monica Stoicovy started their teaching careers in the West Jefferson Hills School District. My father was a beloved guidance counselor and football coach and my mother a librarian. I have a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in education and hold dear the fabric of our community and strive to preserve its character for our future generations.

Keith Reynolds

Political affiliation: Democrat

Municipality: Jefferson Hills

Why did you decide to run for election? Our community is important to me. I am born and raised here and this is where my family has always called home. Recently, I have questioned our current council’s decision making on a number of items and I believe that if I am going to question it, I should also be willing to roll up my sleeves and get involved. Being a member of council comes with the responsibility of looking at your neighbors eye to eye knowing that you did your best to protect their families and lead this community into the future. It is not about political parties and agendas, the residents of Jefferson Hills deserve only the best – and I am committed to delivering the best possible community for them to raise their families.

What is the biggest issue that needs to be addressed? The culture in which our current council has governed our community. Residents elect council to the position and council should always keep the community’s best interest and safety as priority number one. For far too long, we have allowed real estate developers to influence our council’s decisions. Growth is good and should be encouraged, but not at the expense of our community. Members of the community have the right to approach council with their concerns and be treated with respect. I promise that I will bring the community back to the people.

What do voters need to know about you? Being born and raised in Jefferson Hills I have always been active in the community and will always continue to do so. I am not a person that will not stand on a fence and waver on issues, the community will always know how I stand. I stood behind the residents in the “Say No to UPMC” movement because I felt they were mistreated and deserved better. I stand 100% behind the residents of Gill Hall in the recertification of their volunteer firehall. The Gill Hall section of Jefferson Hills is the fastest growing area and we need to take responsibility for their protection. With the decertification of Gill Hall VFC in January 2019, the residents have gone without fire protection from their neighborhood firehall. Having the residents rely on the neighboring fire companies to travel to their area for fire protection is unacceptable in my eyes. Our taxes are high enough, our community deserves better.

Melissa Girman-Steffey

Party affiliation: Republican

Municipality: Jefferson Hills

Why did you decide to run for election? After volunteering on the Jefferson Hills Recreation Board for nine years, I have experienced first hand what it is like to work with a cohesive team that has the best intentions when it comes to improving and growing our community. As a mother of three children, I have developed a strong desire to play a more active role in the decision making process that will lead to the betterment of our community.

What is the biggest issue that needs to be addressed? There are a number of items that need addressed within Jefferson Hills, but the main issue that should be focused on is the lack of a functioning fire department in the Gill Hall area. Safety and security for the residents will be at the forefront of the agenda.

What do voters need to know about you? I have worked with the current members on council seeking approval for community events, upgrading fields, refreshing our parks and pavilions and seeking ADA grants for a future walkway and playground additions at Andrew Reilly Memorial Park (885 field). Overlapping strategies between council, boards, organizations and individuals will help to ensure the success of Jefferson Hills. I believe open communication is the key to success within every aspect of decision making.

James D. Kingsley

Party affiliation: Republican

Municipality: Jefferson Hills

Why did you decide to run for office? To combine my business experience and knowledge gained as a committed, active community member to help us achieve the goals of Jefferson Hills as a safe, financially responsible and well-run municipality with forward-looking leadership.

What is the biggest issue that needs to be addressed? Public safety is the biggest issue that needs to be addressed in Jefferson Borough. Local government has the responsibility in emergency situations to provide the quickest, best trained and equipped first responders that is economically feasible.

What do voters need to know about you? I remain enthusiastic about this growing community where I’ve lived and raised my children during the past 35 years. If elected, I pledge to work to create long-term solutions that benefit everyone.

Michael Lewis

Party affiliation: Republican

Municipality: Jefferson Hills

Why did you decide to run for election? I just stepped down as CEO of my company and was looking to get involved with the community. With a background of building and running a business from the beginning, I felt I could use those skills and experience to benefit the community.

What is the biggest issue that needs to be addressed? Ensuring that there is transparency in all of the issues that are being addressed in the community. The issue with UPMC was a major concern for many people. Regardless of which side you are on, there were meetings and discussions that happened behind closed doors that were concerning to members of the community that no one really wanted to talk about. It appeared that decisions were made to allow UPMC to build without concerns of the impact to the community.

What do voters need to know about you? I spent the last 25 years of my career owning a company where my first concern was my employees. My first thought is how can I help others and what can I do to better their lives and provide them with an opportunity to enhance their careers. Putting the needs of others first is something that I have spent my career doing so it is something I look to do as a member of council.

Categories: Local | South Hills
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.