We’re officially less than one month away from the November 3rd election. On November 3rd, my name will be among five candidates vying for three seats on Bellevue Council. I’m running for Bellevue Council because I am frustrated by the lack of visionary leadership and effective management coming out of our current council.
Bellevue is an amazing town. It has everything any community in the Pittsburgh metro region could ask for. It offers an amazing, walkable business district. It includes an abundance of gorgeous, yet affordable houses. Our easy access to nearly the entire Pittsburgh region is the envy of many who live in places in which “you can’t get there from here.”
Yet, Bellevue is struggling. While communities like Braddock, Carnegie, Lawrenceville, the East End, Millvale, and Dormont, just to name a few, are consistently recognized for their dramatic turn around and development, Bellevue continues on its path of stagnation and decline.
Bellevue is desperate for a spark. A spark which will light a new fire in this community. A spark that’ll push it to the greatness it once knew. That spark is new energy, new ideas, and new leadership!
Throughout Bellevue’s three wards, there are two incumbents seeking re-election to Bellevue Council – Linda Woshner and Jim Scisciani. Combined, the two incumbents have spent nearly three decades on Bellevue Council. While Ms Woshner and Mr Scisciani are great people whom I commend for serving our community as long as they have, it’s time for a change. It’s time for Bellevue to get the fresh start it needs!
On November 3rd, Bellevue voters have the opportunity to provide the spark our community desperately needs by replacing these longstanding incumbents with three passionate, dedicated, fresh young minds – Aaryn Hogue in Ward 1 and Grant Saylor & Tom Fodi in Ward 3.
While Grant and Aaryn make their own case for election in the near future, allow me to tell you a bit about myself. With years of leadership experience in both the private and public sector (business owner, pastor, Air Force captain), I know what it takes to lead an organization toward a vision much larger than itself. I have successfully lead businesses, churches, and people through very difficult periods to new heights previously believed impossible.
I was born here and have remained fully committed to this borough throughout my adult life. I’m a 3rd generation Fodi to lay deep roots here and make Bellevue my home! When opportunities have presented themselves to move on to what some might consider greener pastures, my family and I have remained committed to our love for Bellevue and desire to see it thrive once again. Finally, and perhaps most tellingly, I’m the only candidate in this election to have been nominated by both Bellevue Democrats AND Bellevue Republicans.
I am ready to serve the community I love as one of its newest members of council.
If elected, my agenda is very simple:
Make Bellevue Great Again!
How do we do that? We follow the pattern established by every single revitalized and thriving community in the Pittsburgh region.
1) We focus our attention on the business district. Lincoln Avenue is the life blood of Bellevue. Every revitalized and up & coming community throughout our region has a healthy, walkable business district with few vacant store fronts and numerous desirable businesses. We must redevelop our business district by creating an environment conducive for new investment. Many communities do this via tax incentives for capital improvements to commercial property. Some offer financial assistance to motivate residents with a dream of owning their own business to invest in Bellevue rather than else where. Others find creative ways to encourage people to shop in the Bellevue business district such as eliminating parking meters. There is absolutely no reason why Bellevue cannot be the next great small business district with cool cafes, hip retail boutiques, and one of a kind businesses drawing not only residents, but people from all over Pittsburgh to spend their hard earned money here.
As our business district goes, so go our property values and our school district. Five years ago, when people spoke of Carnegie the image which came to mind was of just another dying steel town south of Pittsburgh. Today, homes are selling at break neck speeds and Carlynton School District is attracting new young families. It all started with the work of revitalizing their business district along Main Street and its primary arteries. We must focus on our business district!
2) We clean up the blighted residential properties and make our community marketable again to home buyers. This requires a dual pronged attack – 1) Stricter code enforcement, especially of rental properties and 2) getting our outlandish property taxes under control. Two of the primary reasons so many of the once beautiful homes in Bellevue have been sub-divided, rented, and left to rot are a lack of consistent and thorough code enforcement and outrageous property taxes. By doing whatever is necessary to hold property owners accountable for their dilapidated properties, surrounding homes will immediately see a bump in their resale value.
Additionally, we simply must figure out ways to bring our property taxes, which are among the highest in Allegheny County, to a more affordable and competitive level. A significant step in that direction is to reduce spending. Bellevue needs a complete independent audit of its accounts to clean up any and all waste, fraud, and abuse. The spending habits of our administrative staff are anything but transparent and are downright questionable in many circumstances. There is nearly half a million dollars in property taxes that have gone unclaimed for years. There are numerous duplicated services happening between all the North Boroughs which should be merged and streamlined for efficiency and cost effectiveness.
3) We usher Bellevue into the 21st Century, ensuring it works for you rather than hiding from you. Today, there are very few questions which a quick Google-search will not answer. Among those “few things” which Google cannot help you with is almost every piece of pertinent information you’d expect from your local government.
Curious about Bellevue’s ordinance on a particular issue? Good luck sorting through the physical binders and loosely bond pages of ordinances and resolutions in borough hall to find your answer.
Want to know when it isn’t necessary to pay for parking in the business district? Sorry. That info isn’t available unless you call the borough hall during regular business hours.
Looking for a way to contact Bellevue Police or the Fire Department regarding a non-emergency situation? Not possible. You’ll have to dial 911 and waste an emergency operator’s time to ask a patrol car to swing by concerning that question you have.
Unable to attend a council meeting and curious about how a particular matter was addressed? Even though it practically costs pennies to live stream and set up a podcast anymore, you’re currently out of luck.
All of this should be available at our fingertips online. Bellevue could have a mobile app developed to work hand in hand with its residents, business owners, and others interested in what’s going on in the community. Instead, while it’s 2015 every where else, Bellevue Borough operates like it’s still 1952.
These are merely my initial ideas for Bellevue’s future. Bellevue’s a great community. It has strong bones. We can flesh it out and give it a brand new life. All you need to do is vote. If you’re a voter in Bellevue’s Third Ward, I humbly ask you for your vote on November 3rd. Thank you for your consideration. Let’s make Bellevue great again!