Liberty in Bellevue Endorses Candidates!

As primary elections will soon be upon us, Liberty in Bellevue has decided to make a very clear statement of support to those running in the 2013 Council and School Board Elections. We examined all bios that were submitted and encourage all of you to do the same. So without further ado, here are our selections!

Bellevue Council Race

Ward 1 – 5 candidates (1 is an incumbent) – Seats Available: 2

Ward 2 – 4 candidates (2 are incumbents) – Seats Available: 2

Ward 3 – 2 candidates (1 is an incumbent) – Seats Available: 1

The council races this year are going to have some pretty good competition. With 11 candidates vying for only 5 available seats, it is encouraging to see the response from the community. One of LiB’s major goals this year was to not have any council seat election go unopposed (only 1 person running).

With that said, LiB is firmly throwing their support behind…drum roll please…

…any candidate that can show the following traits:

  • A distinct and clearly communicated vision for our residential community and business district.
  • Ideas with the resolve to act on them to support their vision.
  • A clear understanding of what council’s role is in the community and strict discipline to act and vote in a way that does not over legislate.
  • A clear communicator who is not afraid to speak to and listen to the community. Transparency is key!!
  • A candidate that can clearly show that they are acting in the best interests of the community, not just for themselves.
  • A clear understanding of their elected responsibility to fiscal matters. The successful candidates should be able to understand and vocalize the difference between the reasons for finding areas to try and save money vs. areas where it is important to spend money.

Bellevue Mayoral Race

3 candidates (No incumbents, however 1 is a current councilperson)

So we have a 3 way race going for the position of Mayor of Bellevue. The makeup of this field is interesting; we have a current councilperson, a former Bellevue mayor, and a former councilperson.

The critical things to note in the characteristics regarding who would make a great candidate are that the Mayor has 3 major responsibilities.

  • To act as the head of the Police Department. In Bellevue the Police Chief directly reports to the Mayor.
  • To put together the yearly budget that is presented to our council.
  • To add input during discussion periods at council meetings (as a non-voting party), but in the case of a tie, the mayor does cast the tie breaking vote.

So knowing that, there are some alternate characteristics that, while inclusive of all the ones listed for a councilperson, should be considered.

  • As head of the Police Department, it is expected that the successful person have a good understanding of the police department and also be willing to work with their Chief and officers to ensure that the function of the police department remains a valuable part of our community. This should also include our schools!
  • As budget preparation is key, so is education. The successful mayoral candidate should be well educated in all aspects of business, budgeting processes, and the ability to recognize wasteful spending.
  • An open communicator. The Mayor is the “CEO” of Bellevue and with that comes great responsibility. While not a voting member of the council, it is imperative that they also work with the council to define the direction of the community and be open to letting the public know when council begins veering from its course.

And last but, very certainly, not least….

Northgate School Board

7 candidates (1 is an incumbent) – Seats Available: 4

The Northgate School board races this time around will change the face of the current sitting board. Of the 4 seats available only 1 incumbent is running. As of the beginning of next year, we will see at least three new people on the school board. Couple that with amount of attention that has been placed on our district lately and it makes for a very important election.

One very important thing to note about this election is how critical the primary election is. As all candidates have cross-filed (listed on both democrat and republican ballots), the top 4 from each of those ballots go on to the general election. Because they have cross filed, if the same 4 people win both the democrat and republican primary, those will become the next 4 members of the school board. Let’s make this primary count and educate yourself before stepping into the voting booth, as this might be the only chance you get to choose from the 7 candidates.

So what should we be looking for?

  • From the feedback the community has given over that last few months ….communication ….communication…communication!  We need school board members who want to engage and speak with the residents to understand how their residents feel.
  • A realistic point of view.  After the controversial moves the school board recently made, it is very important that our school board maintain a realistic point of view. It is not the time to be partisan. It is ok to challenge decisions to ensure the best one is made, however they should not be challenging based on their personal political beliefs, but rather coming to the center and making decisions that best represent their constituents and the good of our school district.
  • School board budgeting. For the next 5..6..7 years, finances are going to be extremely tight! It will be very important for our school board members to understand all of the different inputs and mandates that control the district’s budget. As a resident you should be looking to those that have a well-rounded grasp of the problems we face and a willingness to use an all of the above approach to solve them!!
  • The last thing that our students need is a good, well rounded curriculum. As residents we should be ensuring that the people we put on the school board are committed to ensuring that the core subjects, electives, arts and sports programs are maintained to the best of their ability. It is with a balanced curriculum that all students can fully participate in their own education.

To summarize, I did say at the beginning that LiB was going to endorse candidates…we just did. It is now up to you, the residents of Bellevue and Avalon to educate yourselves and put aside the straight party line vote. You must engage and ensure that our communities maintain the best we can offer. It all starts here!

With that said, LiB has spent much time organizing the information provided by the candidates and it is available on our website for your reading pleasure. We encourage you to ask the candidates questions by replying to each of the posts and we encourage all candidates to answer those questions. Sure it’s a lot to read, but it is extremely important. Bellevue and Avalon have a lot to win or lose this time around. We want you to be a part of the solution!!

Let’s start with a quick way to narrow down your choices. LiB believes in transparency and a willingness to engage the public from all of the elected officials.  Of the 21 people running in this election (as of the time this blog was written) there are 5 that don’t believe they need to tell you what their ideas are for governing and being leaders in our town. I’m sure you can figure out who they are.

Click here to see your list of candidates and their biographies. 

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20 Responses to “Liberty in Bellevue Endorses Candidates!”

  1. Speaking for myself and not the LiB organization which I am a part of – I want to take this opportunity to clearly highlight the individuals who chose NOT to voluntarily engage the public with their personal biographies and/or vision for Bellevue and offer reasons they might have chosen not to.

    -Jane Braunlich. Jane is running for mayor but has yet to be open and honest about her lack of executive experience, inability to use the necessary technology for the job, and failure to calculate 10% of $12,000 on the spot in a public meeting. As the mayor, Jane would be responsible with creating a functional budget for the borough. Her serious math deficiencies as demonstrated as a council member deeply concerns me about the borough’s financial health if Jane is elected mayor. This is all besides the fact that numerous police officers have anonymously communicated they will leave the department if she is elected as their boss.

    -Mike Braunlich. Mike is Jane’s husband and is running for Jane’s council seat. Apparently between the Braunlich’s and Viscusi’s, “running Bellevue” is seen as a family business. The public knows nothing about Mike other than the fact that he’s failed to get elected in the past.

    -Jim and Sue Viscusi. A husband and wife both representing Ward 2 on Bellevue Council. Jim and Sue are both up for re-election, but have yet to communicate with any of their constituents about their vision for the future of Bellevue other than their desire to regulate it to death. Jim and Sue were both vital to the hotly contested anti-grilling ordinance and fought to pay the son of their political ally, Mark Purcell, thousands of dollars for trees that were offered to the borough for free through the “TreeVitalize Program.” Additionally, Jim was accused of spending hours stalking a borough employee around town with a camera to document his/her every move in an attempt to find reason to terminate the employee. After much ado about “pending litigation” against this employee, everyone has suddenly gone quiet about the situation. Was it determined that Jim’s actions were an ethics violation or an overstep of his role as a borough council member? We might never know.

    -Lynn Heffley. Lynn is a new face on council, as she was appointed mid-term to fill a seat left vacant by the resignation of the properly elected council member. Lynn has promised LiB some information for the voters at an undetermined future date. I assume that since Lynn is running uncontested she is not in a rush to make such information available. Lynn has always given the appearance as a swing vote/independent mind on council. However, Lynn always happens to vote with her political allies and friends without fail. Is there a reason for this? Was voting with the “old guard” an agreement made for campaign financing in the November election? Maybe that’s why she’s been “prevented” from communicating with LiB as well? Just a thought. Perhaps time will tell.

    Bellevue voters – these are the candidates who believe you’re ignorant enough to just vote for them because they’ve been serving in public office, or have had a public profile for a while now. It’s time for something new. It’s time for change in Bellevue. CHANGE IS COMING!!

  2. Hi Mark, As you well know by now I am running for Bellevue Council in Ward 3. I try to keep myself out of this political banter in these online forums because it tends to go nowhere (as evidenced by some of the conversations I have read on here). The political climate in Ross must be very uneventful because I see you expending a tremendous amount of energy on Bellevue politics.

    Since Tom (who happens to be a friend of mine) forgot everyone to tell who LIB “recruited” to run, could you please enlighten us? You see, “recruiting” people to run would only be necessary if there weren’t enough people already fed up with the current scenario to run on their own. There are people who regularly watch the videos of the council meetings and are beginning to see with their own two eyes exactly what some of the issues are that are affecting this borough. The videos don’t lie. They are put up online unedited and people willingly watch them to their painful conclusion. That my friend is called transparency. Many boroughs do this on their own so that the residents who are unable to come to the meetings are still able to see what goes on in the council chambers. Many boroughs also post agendas and minutes online for residents to view in a timely manner. That is transparency….I’ll stop there.

    As for the trees – go back to the afforementioned videos and you will see that our current council voted to purchase trees to be planted because going through Treevitalize just wasn’t good enough.

    If you would like to meet for coffee I would be happy to further this discussion.

    Have a great day.

  3. I would like to correct a few things about the trees in the cinder lot. Council never said the free trees were not good enough. Free does not mean there would not be a cost to the borough. I will speak for myself. I knew the dog park was going to open in the Spring of 2013 and we had residents of McIlrath Avenue complaining of the dust from the cinder lot affecting their health and property plus a written petition requesting the trees
    be replaced. With TreeVitalize there was no guarantee of the type or size of trees that would be planted. TreeVitalize would choose. Most importantly, would we get the trees? Additionally, the borough cut down healthy trees and why shouldn’t the borough replacement them. The borough requires a buffer for parking lots. Why shouldn’t the borough do what they require others to do? I will add that I, personally, checked the prices of the trees in question and the trees purchased were the cheapest for like kind and quality over all. At that time we knew we would have the equipment donated, as well as, time and labor. These trees could not have been planted without heavy equipment. Four of the McIlrath neighbors helped with the planting and watering of the trees. They are now healthy beautiful trees. Bellevue needs to be good neighbors.

  4. Hi Ms. Woshner,

    Can you comment on the trees recently removed from the Dog Woods area? Thanks.

    • I know as much as anyone else. We were told at the last council meeting that the Dogwoods Association is going to install a sign, plant flowers and trees in that area. There has been little attention given to the cinder lot area. I look forward to the improvements.

  5. Council President Woshner,
    You mention a petition about the trees. From my experience…petitions don’t carry much weight with the majority on council (unless it helps to further their agenda). I must ask, how many signatures were on said petition for the trees? I presented a petition last year with nearly 400 signatures on it. If you remember, not only was my request denied, a suggested “trial run” of my request was also denied by the old guard. You say that using Treevitalize would still have a cost to the borough, the item i was petitioning for would of had a cost of ZERO to the borough. Let’s not even get started on how long it was dragged out. I’m almost certain that the tiny trees that now line the parking lot are blocking little to no dust from the homes. Treevitalize consists of professionals, sometimes putting the professionals in a position to simply do their job is the best way to go. Would the volunteers not have helped to plant the trees if they weren’t purchased from the Purcell Family? I commend your willingness to get involved, however I must admit that you seem to only get involved when you want to “correct things” in a blog. How many times have we written blogs about vision for the borough, vision for the future, planning for the business district, etc… Why not participate by presenting your vision for the borough? Maybe encourage your fellow council mates to participate as well.
    I personally think that the last blog written by Tom should be a homework assignment for all 9 of the council members. Please let me know what you think of that blog and the video, i would love to hear your input about it!

  6. Mrs. Woshner,
    I must also ask…of everything in the blog above, the only item you see worth commenting on is the trees?

  7. Danina,

    On occasion I do correct certain misconceptions. I can’t respond to all of them due to time constraints. I know there is nothing I can say that you will agree with. You applaud those you favor no matter what they say or do. They can grandstand and be disruptive during a meeting but they are applauded by your group. I would hate to see the headlines if I did the same. You criticize this council but where were you when those council members you favor had the majority and voted the same except for 2 or 3 rare votes.
    You are upset because I did not think having tables on the sidewalk for your customers would benefit the Bellevue business district. There are successful restaurants in Bellevue without having tables on the sidewalk. If our sidewalks were wider, I would welcome the concept. Not all businesses will be successful. Most businesses will not last 10 years. Am I going to blame it on our government?

    I do not want to be regularly “involved” with a blog that is so negative. I add comments because some people will believe everything you tell them unless they hear otherwise. Do I have goals? Of course, I do. I would be happy to share them but not on a site that condemns me every opportunity it gets. I expect my posts to be ripped apart.

    How about recognizing the accomplishments of this council? Please recognize this community has more positives than negatives. I love this community and your negativism is hurting Bellevue.

  8. Ms. Woshner,

    I think you need to remove the rose-colored lenses. The attitude that ‘everyone is wrong but me’ is what has got our community into this mess. You can’t condemn a voting bloc then take sides with your own. One of your first actions as council president was completely reappointing the Allegheny Together BDAC with your own associates. Why was that acceptable? Why was it needed?

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE share your ideas. We all agree on the tax break for improving properties.

    The reason this blog exists is because of phantom priorities that aren’t shared publicly. It all began with the unnecessary grilling & burning ordinance. How many permits have been issued? I still see a lot of grills on wooden decks & up against homes & apartment buildings. It still doesn’t make sense to me.

    Maybe its time that you and your associates start sharing your ideas so we can come together and collaborate on the issues rather than hiding outside residents’ homes or in the Fire Escape coffee shop with political cronies. You can’t say we need to come together when these things are going on under your watch.

  9. I am extremely interested in what Linda has to say regarding her vision for Bellevue. But I also want to hear what specific actions are going to be taken. I have asked council at meetings what the plan is for Bellevue and never received a response . To say that they won’t share it on here is just another excuse. I volunteered and got involved in tons of things around this town because there was a vision from our leaders as to what actions they were going to take. Did I agree with all of them. No. But what I did agree with was that someone was actually doing something and wasn’t afraid to share that vision and action with the residents.

  10. “Markie”,
    I figured you’d crawl out of your hole eventually…
    All these quotes that you speak of, please post them for everyone to see, make sure you post links to their sources. Just like we post a video and comment/blog from the direct source of information, we expect that you do the same.
    You know what is so interesting about all the garbage that you spew? Never once has LiB mentioned a council members political affiliation in a negative light. If you look back at all the comments that you’ve left, it’s actually YOU that seems to want to paint certain political parties as evil and dividing for the borough. When we comment on their behavior/decisions/voting, it’s based on them, not their political party. Don’t you find it interesting how obsessed you are with trying to corner LiB into a corner? It’s not working out too well for you because there are so many of us, and so many different political leanings, that you’re starting to look more and more foolish as community members get to know us and talk with us about our private political leanings. It’s quite interesting what can happen when a group of people awaken the community to what’s happening (or NOT happening) within the confines of borough hall. It’s beautiful to see such invigoration amongst the residents, and the openness of those that approach us with ideas and creative ways to get things done around here.
    LiB began with a small group of people that started going to meetings to try to toss some ideas around with council. Offer a perspective that perhaps they’d not had before from a younger generation of community members. What resulted from the suggestions and offers to help was shocking to us. We were met with resistance, growls, and flat out rudeness from these people that hadn’t much interacted with prior to the meetings. LiB was started with the hopes that we could inspire the current leadership with ideas and offers and energy. We never began with the idea that we’d be faced with so much resistance that we’d end up having to come up with ways to accomplish these awesome ideas on our own. I personally offered to volunteer on my free time to help with marketing the borough through social media outlets and eblasts. We also offered info on an inexpensive alternative to restricting the borough cell phone use to “borough business only”. (remember the cell phone witch hunt?!). A few people have offered to help with the website. And each one of us has offered up affordable (if not free) ideas and energy to market the borough properly and efficiently.

    Coder & Helbling are not part of LiB, even though they follow us on Facebook. I follow Adelle on Facebook, that certainly doesn’t make me one of her background singers. Sure, it’s easy to say that you think we could never have thought of our ideas on our own, but unfortunately, for your case…I’m happy to say that we are a pretty good bunch, with ideas to boot! Hard to believe, I know!

  11. Council President Woshner,
    I may disagree with you on many issues, but the issues that I agree with you on, I have told you about. There is no applauding anyone grandstanding. We record meetings and post them online. If someone has an outburst during a meeting, that’s on them, not us. Will we investigate the outburst to see if there’s a good reason for it, sure.

    If you have ideas, you should be willing to share them. Isn’t “being criticized” part of holding public office? I don’t get it, are you just trying to appeal to those that already support you?

    Many towns with narrower sidewalks make it work with cafe seating. Have you ever been to the strip district? They have tables blocking the entire sidewalk, yet thousands of people still manage to figure it out. Maybe it’s time for you to remove your personal opinion from things and take a look at the numbers. 400+ people signed that petition, why didn’t you think it was a good idea to “represent them”? It’s all said and done. One award-winning establishment after another has packed up shop and left/shut down. The leadership in this town should be saddened by the fact that so many incredible places have left for greener pasteurs. Look at other towns, one award-winning place after another is opening up around Pittsburgh. Is the government to blame for Bellevue falling behind the times by 30+ years, you ask? Not completely. But the leadership over the last 20 years hasn’t been able to work together well enough to put the proper steps in place to set us up for success either. We’re all part of the equation, it’s just too bad that every innovative idea is shot down. Why should we keep coming to you with offers and ideas if no one seems to care?

    I was hoping to get your opinion on the blog/video that Tom posted about the possibilities for Bellevue. I really hope that you encourage your fellow seat holders to watch and think about it. I think it’s a great read!

  12. Hi Mr. Purcell,

    Welcome back. Please prove that I’m a Republican. Check my voter registration history. Check my voting history. You will prove to yourself that you’re incorrect about your assumption. We aren’t a Republican group. We aren’t a conservative or libertarian group. We aren’t for less government or crying for a reduction in taxes. We stand for a stronger Bellevue and a smarter Bellevue government. What good is replacing the solicitor to save $15,000 (which isn’t guaranteed based on the contract) when they turn around and propose spending that same amount on a TIME CLOCK?!

    As for forming a community group, there was one formed in Bellevue – Bellevue Initiative for Growth & Redevelopment (BIGr), but any support of that organization has been torpedoed by your toadies on Council because it was started by Kathy Coder, a political opponent. Additionally, Council President Woshner removed anyone associated with Kathy Coder from the Allegheny Together Business District Advisory Committee and upon election replaced them with cronies & supporters. It goes to show that the group with the current majority won’t play with anyone but their own ilk – exactly why we exist.

  13. Oh Markie,
    You speak of all the hate and lies from the people that you don’t like…Me, Tom, Coder, Helbling… But look at the hateful things that you say to people…
    The great thing about this website is that everything is available to be referenced back on…blogs, comments, conversations. You really think that I blame the council 100% for the MANY amazing businesses that have left the community for greener pastures? No, but they certainly cannot be left off the hook entirely either. So as i said before, you can continue to spew your garbage all over the place while we keep pushing forward with bright ideas and motivation. You can attack me all you’d like in reference to my business, but I will keep on pushing forward for a better borough, better leadership, a more prosperous business district, and a town that provides its community with the tools it needs to prosper. You stay over there and keep rambling on and on with your tired old slimy garbage…we’ll be over here getting it done.

  14. And you can’t lead with a closed mind. *cough* *cough*

  15. Scott,
    I love that phrase, thank you for posting it! With so many great ideas being proposed to council over and over again to no avail…it really does show that it’s time for them to admit that maybe some fresh perspective and innovation is necessary to keep this town afloat! I don’t blame them for being complacent and fearful of change and progress, it’s easy to get in that mode when you’ve been doing the same thing for years and years. But I do blame them for not recognizing when it’s time to pass the torch. I’m not sure how anyone can look at the current leadership and label them as “open minded”. They’re pretty much required to have to “listen” (i.e. roll their eyes and shuffle mounds of papers) while the public speaks during public comment. Just because we’re speaking doesn’t mean the they’re listening or even considering that we might be proposing a great plan or idea to them in the hopes that they can put the plan into action. So I would love to hear from the current leadership about some things that they’ve done that were proposed to them from the public. No, I’m not referring to countless unnecessary ordinances and restrictions requested by one or two people that council members just happen to be friends with…I’m talking about REAL innovations, things that will set this town apart and possibly set the town up for progress and prosperity. I’m open to hearing from all of the current seat holders, I hope they’re open to sharing their plan of action with the public! Take a look at other towns around the city, they’re really putting a focus on making sure that their community is on the map. Whether it be by celebrating the businesses that they’re attracting, showing off the town with fantastic events, art crawls, wine crawls, cooking competitions… Why can’t we seem to keep enough businesses here to be able to harness these ideas and take them to the next level?

    Who benefits from a declining town? Why wouldn’t the people in leadership positions want to do everything they can, listen and greatly consider EVERY SINGLE suggestion made by the community, accept wonderful offers from the community members that offer to help in their free time and propose innovative ways to market the borough, really put their efforts into finding a way to champion this borough and bring it forward into the year 2013?! Now’s the time to pass the torch, it’s time to let some fresh minds have a stab at getting this town back on track!

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