My name is Megan Swackhammer. I moved to Bellevue in October 2010. I grew up in Harborcreek, a suburb of Erie, and moved to Pittsburgh for college. I attended the University of Pittsburgh from 2006 through 2010, when I graduated with a Bachelor’s in History. While at Pitt, I fell in love with the man I would eventually marry and the city alike. Since my graduation, I have worked for the University’s Development office as a Research Associate.
Growing up, my parents encouraged me to be politically aware. Shortly after moving to Bellevue, I was advised to attend a Bellevue Council meeting so that I might see and judge for myself what occurs on a regular basis inside our small town local government. I did so, and was surprised at the behavior I witnessed. I decided to get involved and am now running for council.
I am running as a Republican. Some people have tried to make this election and many issues we have seen lately in our town about party lines. I don’t see our problems as red vs. blue. I look forward to the opportunity to work with others who have Bellevue in mind and see great things in our future.
Bellevue is a quaint town just minutes from downtown. I would love to see Bellevue to become a destination town. Talking to friends and family from the Pittsburgh area, they ask where I live. When I say Bellevue, I’ve heard things like, “Ohhhh, isn’t that the place that won’t let you grill?” (Yes, I realize we can grill!) or worse, “Where??” I would love for the people of Pittsburgh to hear Bellevue and think of all the time they spend in our great restaurants, cute shops, and beautiful parks.
I think Bellevue has a lot going for it. The location is superb – close to the river, ten minutes from downtown, and on a highway that’s not nearly as crazy as 376, 279, or 28. We have fantastic parks. We have our own library. We have a lot of people who are passionate about Bellevue – council members, business owners, and citizens.
Simultaneously, we have some downfalls. Businesses are closing or leaving the area – see a recent Liberty in Bellevue blog. We need to encourage businesses to move here and stay here. Our council cannot fix the problem alone, but (generally speaking) they have been inflexible and closed minded. I would love to meet with councils in other towns that have recently revitalized – towns such as Lawrenceville and Beaver. There are always many contributing factors to a town’s renaissance, but the council needs to be open to facilitating the renewal.
We also need to draw new residents to the town. Our taxes seem to be continuously on the rise. We need to find a way to lower the taxes so we don’t suffocate our residents while supporting the community with the tax dollars that we do have.
Another way to increase the desirability of our town is stronger enforcement of our current building code. Our Code Enforcement office needs support to tackle the issues that are prevalent with blighted properties in Bellevue.
The School Board and Council should work together on joint concerns. We need to ensure the safety of our children by making sure we can retain our School Resource Officer each day the kids are in school. The Borough should not be solely responsible for the funding of the Officer; Avalon, Bellevue, and the School District should be focused on our children’s safety and willing to collaborate to provide that safety.