When was the last time you proudly proclaimed, “I live in Bellevue!”
We used to. When many of us were children, we did. Bellevue was the envy of many communities. We weren’t “the city,” but close enough to it to reap the benefits. We once had gorgeous turn of the century homes that could house large families at reasonable cost. We once prided ourselves with a top notch school district which had the resources to provide ample opportunity for our students. We once had a walkable business district that included fabulous arts and craft stores, boutiques, toy stores, candy shops, multiple grocery stores and hardware stores, unique eateries, a bowling alley, and movie theater!
Despite the fact that it’s now 2015, we still don’t have the ability to travel through time. We cannot go back and magically transport Bellevue’s glory days from the past to the present. The past is firmly left in the past, but the opportunities of Bellevue’s future are plenty and just waiting to be harnessed.
We recently sat down and had a conversation with the three candidates ready to lead the charge of Bellevue’s renaissance: Tom Fodi, Grant Saylor, and Aaryn Hogue. Here’s what they told us about why they’re running and their dreams for Bellevue.
Tom Fodi (Ward 3): Bellevue is just begging to be the next big thing in Pittsburgh. It has everything every revitalized community throughout our region has, and then some. I spend a lot of time throughout the metro region. I visit towns like Carnegie, Dormont, Braddock, the East End, etc fairly often. The one thing I find in these regions which is sorely lacking in Bellevue is cohesive, proactive, and visionary leadership. Bellevue has a council the currently majors in the minors. They argue for months over what rules we should employ in the park or how much to charge people who actually want to park their cars along Lincoln Ave, meanwhile significant portions of our business district (which is the life blood of our town) rots and decays. Bellevue Council should be directing the full might of its power towards revitalizing the business district. Are there other issues in Bellevue? Of course! But what these other towns have discovered to be true is that as their business district goes, so the entire community goes. If Lincoln Avenue sees new investment and growth, the property values of our homes and the revenue in our school district will begin to increase for the first time in a decade!
Grant Saylor (Ward 3): I agree with Tom. Our council must bend over backwards to make it desirable to do business in Bellevue again, because right now it’s anything but. I would also add that our local government needs to operate transparently. LiB did a good job when it started filming council meetings and making them available to the public. I believe we were told council would start filming and posting meetings themselves, but every time I’m in a council meeting their camera is turned off and unused. We don’t even get minutes from our business meetings in a timely manner. It’s nearly impossible right now to know what our government is doing with our tax dollars. Ordinances, resolutions, the budget, our spending vs income, and Bellevue’s policy on anything that may concern local residents and business owners should be but a mouse click away. Government works to serve the people, not the other way around. We are elected to serve the people.
Aaryn Hogue (Ward 1): I’m 100% on board with everything Tom and Grant have already said. One of my primary focuses if elected would be what I call “getting Bellevue dressed for success.” Successful leaders often say, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” That same truth applies to Bellevue. We need to clean up our act. This is a multi-pronged issue but in effect it means cleaning up our streets, getting code enforcement to do its job consistently, working with business owners to beautify our main street, and overall just making Bellevue a far more attractive community. I’d also add, a serious detriment to our community growth are our egregiously high property taxes. Recently the mayor announced his 2016 Bellevue Budget Proposal. He patted himself on the back for not needing to increase property taxes to meet his budget. That’s great. But, when are we ever going to see a decrease in our property taxes so that we’re actually competitive with our neighboring communities again!?
Tom, Grant, and Aaryn represent the new energy, new ideas, and new leadership Bellevue sorely needs. Their opponents, the long standing incumbents Linda Woshner and Jim Scisciani, have been on council for a quarter of a century combined. While we applaud anyone who willingly steps forward to serve their community, we stand firm in our conviction that if Bellevue is going to turn the corner and thrive once again, it simply won’t do so under the reign of the same old people with the same old ideas.