Council District 2 candidates have their say on Mount Washington
Meet the Candidates Night was held Jan. 15 at the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation forum meeting.
The speakers were four candidates running for the City Council District Two seat to be decided by a special election Feb. 3.
The District Two neighborhoods include: Mount Washington, Westwood, Sheraden, Duquesne Heights, Banksville, Crafton Heights, Elliott, Oakwood, East Carnegie, Esplen, Ridgemont, Fairywood and West End. The four spoke according to alphabetical order.
"It is a horrible evening (due to the weather). I thank you for coming," said Georgia Blotzer, of Mount Washington, a member of the MWCDC.
She said the four were interviewed by the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette so that newspaper could make an endorsement and she heard a statement at that time that crime had been reduced in parts of District Two. "Not up here," she objected. "There were four murders up here last year compared to one in Sheraden. We have to do something."
She recommended neighborhood block watches becoming more involved with police departments and also becoming educated in recognizing gangs and drug action.
Ms. Blotzer said she wanted to discuss other issues, such as housing and responsible development, but was limited to a five minute time period that night.
She is a retired special education teacher who has been involved in various campaigns "to help good officials get elected." Ms. Blotzer has served as a committee woman and is running for office because her friends and neighbors asked her to.
"I'm the only candidate who is running as an independent Democrat. I'm not beholden to anyone but my constituents."
Republican candidate Chris Metz of Sheraden took less time to speak. He is a graduate of Point Park College and is active at his church, Holy Innocents. He is also political director of the Allegheny County Republican Committee and was nominated by that committee to run.
"I have a big problem with our safety. We need more police on the streets to protect the residents of District Two. We need to develop the business districts to attract more families to move in," Mr. Metz said.
A reporter asked him later if a Republican candidate had a chance running for a seat on council which has long been Democratic. "I didn't choose to run because of party. I ran because residents started asking me to. I decided to get involved," he responded.
"All of us have stump speeches. Today I am going to deviate from that," said Brendan Schubert of Westwood, a Democrat running under Schubert for Council, a party he created, and a city zoning code administrative officer.
He said he read a letter in the newspapers that Barack Obama wrote to his daughters to explain why he ran for president.
"We want to leave this place better for them (the children). I want smart development and public safety. I'm an expert in planning. I know how to do it. I don't just want more police. I want to bring quality of life to the district.
"We have to stand in an united front. I want to use my professional abilities to eliminate inefficient government and push the district forward," Mr. Schubert said. He was raised in District Two.
Theresa Smith of Westwood is the candidate endorsed by the Allegheny County Democratic Committee and worked as campaign manager for Dan Deasey, who previously held the seat.
She is currently president of the Crafton Heights, Westwood, Ridgemont Community Council and has served for the past three years as secretary for the 28th Ward Democratic Committee.
"This is a great crowd," she told the audience.
She said she has worked as a volunteer all over the city and has a great relationship with foundations and neighborhood groups. She named MWCDC members and officers that she knew and looked forward to working with.
She said she is also endorsed by the Allegheny County Labor Council and the Pittsburgh Building and Construction Trades Council.
She wants to strengthen programs at Ream Center because some children have nothing to do between 3 and 6 p.m.
Upcoming MWCDC meetings, listed on the agenda that night, include a board of directors meeting at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at the Senior Center, an open spaces committee meeting at 5 p.m. Feb. 11 at the MWCDC office and a Main Street committee meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 18 at the office.
Patrick Hassett and Ben Carlise from City Public Works gave a presentation that night on plans to upgrade street lighting along Grandview Avenue. Mr. Hassett is assistant public works director and Mr. Carlise is in charge of the city's street lights.
They hope to start the replacement project regarding energy efficient fixtures and poles this coming spring. The cost is paid by a $400,000 state grant.
Residents learned that there is a hot line number regarding malfunctioning lights – 412 255-LITE. "I maintain the lights. I am not getting calls about lights broken by kids. If any are not working, I need to know," Mr. Carlise said.
Attendees were shown types of fixtures and poles being considered. Final selection by the city will be based on the community's aesthetic preference, cost and available funding.
The lighting technology currently used is the mercury vapor system. New technologies being considered are: metal halide, induction and LED.
Metal halide has the least initial cost. Induction has the least annual maintenance cost. LED has the lowest energy cost but the greatest initial cost.
However, it is important to remember that technology and the costs are constantly changing, Mr. Hassett said. "Things keep getting cheaper and better."
The reason there is a number of options being considered is that the city stores these fixtures and poles in a warehouse for replacement purposes, Mr. Hassett said.
"Grandview Avenue is an important avenue. We want to give you the best possible lighting and fixtures," he said.