PENN HILLS 2021 PRIMARY ELECTION GUIDE

The Crescent Hills Civic Association (CHCA) reached out to all local candidates in the Council and School Director primary races and asked for their responses to 3 questions each.. The questions and the candidates responses are published in this guide for the benefit of all Penn Hills Voters. The CHCA is a nonpartisan, Penn Hills neighborhood, civic organization and does not endorse any candidate in any way. Don't forget to vote this Tuesday, May 18th, 2021! (The deadline to register if you aren’t already registered is May 3rd.)



Ballot Question 1: PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT – ARTICLE III, SECTION 9

RELATING TO TERMINATION OR EXTENSION OF DISASTER EMERGENCY DECLARATIONS

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law and increase the power of the General Assembly to unilaterally terminate or extend a disaster emergency declaration--and the powers of Commonwealth agencies to address the disaster regardless of its severity pursuant to that declaration--through passing a concurrent resolution by simple majority, thereby removing the existing check and balance of presenting a resolution to the Governor for approval or disapproval?

  [   ] YES [   ] NO




Ballot Question 2: PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT – ARTICLE IV

DISASTER EMERGENCY DECLARATION AND MANAGEMENT

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law so that: a disaster emergency declaration will expire automatically after 21 days, regardless of the severity of the emergency, unless the General Assembly takes action to extend the disaster emergency; the Governor may not declare a new disaster emergency to respond to the dangers facing the Commonwealth unless the General Assembly passes a concurrent resolution; the General Assembly enacts new laws for disaster management?

  [   ] YES [   ] NO



Ballot Question 3: PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT – ARTICLE I

PROHIBITION AGAINST DENIAL OR ABRIDGEMENT OF EQUALITY OF RIGHTS BECAUSE OF RACE OR ETHNICITY

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended by adding a new section providing that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of an individual's race or ethnicity?

  [   ] YES [   ] NO



Ballot Question 4: STATEWIDE REFERENDUM – ACT 2020-91

MAKING MUNICIPAL FIRE AND EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES COMPANIES ELIGIBLE FOR LOANS

Do you favor expanding the use of the indebtedness authorized under the referendum for loans to volunteer fire companies, volunteer ambulance services and volunteer rescue squads under 35 PA.C.S. §7378.1 (related to referendum for additional indebtedness) to include loans to municipal fire departments or companies that provide services through paid personnel and emergency medical services companies for the purpose of establishing and modernizing facilities to house apparatus equipment, ambulances and rescue vehicles, and for purchasing apparatus equipment, ambulances and rescue vehicles, protective and communications equipment and any other accessory equipment necessary for the proper performance of the duties of the fire companies and emergency medical services companies?

  [   ] YES [   ] NO



DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY 


Penn Hills Council (Vote for up to 2) 

[   ]  Joanne M. Fascio

1. What experience and skills do you possess that would enable you to be an effective and successful Penn Hills Council Member?


With over 30 years working for and with the County and State, I fully understand how government agencies work and am prepared to take on the challenges presented. In addition, I have learned how to approach problems with determination of facts, assessment of the current environment and then apply the interpersonal skills needed to create consensus. I bring these skills and experience to an enriched sense of community. Since my retirement, I have jumped into learning more about Penn Hills by increasing various volunteer activities such as Home Meals delivery, the Penn Hills Service Association, the Penn Hills Shade Tree and the PH Anti-Litter programs. These activities have opened up a fuller understanding of the people and issues in Penn Hills.


2. What do you think are the biggest problems facing Penn Hills and what will you do about them?


A) Economic Development. Penn Hills needs to more consciously cultivate a plan for economic development to create both job opportunities for residents as well as businesses to sustain the community and tax base. I believe in using government as a catalyst to enlist public/private partnerships to multiply the efforts and will work to develop these relationships with any and all interested parties.


B) Financial Management – I will work to open the process of budgeting and management of taxpayer funds by creating a more transparent process and enlisting more diverse input.


3. What would your approach be to improving Penn Hills' general public image?  

As with many established communities, Penn Hills struggles with the conventional perception versus allowing for a newer, more forward looking approach. I will work to build upon the existing assets in our community while injecting some of our younger citizens’ perspective and skills. This is an opportunity for great change and Penn Hills must project not only our willingness but our enthusiasm to embrace that change and growth.   






[   ]  John Petrucci

1. What experience and skills do you possess that would enable you to be an effective and successful Penn Hills Council Member?


As current Councilman of Penn Hills, one of my biggest attributes is the focus I spend on being accessible to the residents.  I am retired, and that allows for the time needed to answer residents’ concerns personally on a daily basis. Currently, I spend many hours a week working with the municipal manager on various issues such as reviewing contracts coming up for bid, looking out for the taxpayers, and getting involved in community activities.  I have instituted numerous policies and ordinances that benefit Penn Hills in many ways. The time I have spent serving on Council has given me a deep understanding of the challenges Penn Hills faces, and I am always thinking of how I can make Penn Hills better for all of us that live here.


2. What do you think are the biggest problems facing Penn Hills and what will you do about them?

The largest issue is the mismanagement of the school board budget that put the district $170 million in debt.  Raising taxes has caused a ripple effect that hurt the residents, seniors, children and the economic growth of our community.  I will always work to help bring resolution of these problems and reach out to state and local officials to search for relief. Another issue is the cost of our sewage.  I have worked with the municipal manager to implement a small reduction in the current service and continue investigations which will hopefully lead to more relief in the future. Litter is a big problem in our community.  On April 15, 2019 I introduced to the Mayor and Council that we adopt a resolution that residents and business owners be responsible for cleanup of their property on a regular basis or face fines. I have partnered with the University of Pittsburgh to bring in true to twice a year into various parts of Penn Hills to help clean up the litter. I have also personally installed trash cans at bus shelters to help curb the littering in those areas. Since taking office, I have also worked closely with the manager to increase the illegal dumping fine and ensure the municipality takes an active role in the cleaning up of those dump sites. Lastly, Code enforcement needs to be more proactive instead of just reactive.  A new program for reporting code violations needs to be established to help strengthen our code enforcement and allow the public a better understanding of the process.


3. What would your approach be to improving Penn Hills' general public image?  

I believe if each section of Penn Hills would organize a group like the Crescent Hills Civic Association or the Rosedale Civic Association, that it would lift Penn Hills up as a whole. Community groups can be responsible for the general well-being of its neighbors by having litter clean ups, reporting code violations, and working closely with the municipal manager.  I would encourage others to do the same and help them get started. Millennials are the future of home buying in Penn Hills.  I will focus on attracting them here by making sure that what they want is available to them.  Parks, walking trails, dog parks, and a sense of community involvement are all things that they want. We have all of those and more and must spotlight them to prospective homebuyers.






[   ]  Catherine Sapp        (Did not respond)






School Director (Vote for 4)

[   ]  Joseph Capozoli

1. What experiences and skills do you possess that would enable you to be an effective and successful Penn Hills School Director?

I am currently retired, I was a State Auditor for 27 years.  I was responsible for completing/reviewing compliance and financial audits.  I held the positions of Auditor, Supervisor and Acting Manager. I am currently and have been a member of the Penn Hills Zoning Hearing Board for 20 years.  

2. What do you feel are the school district's biggest problems and how would you fix them?

There are issues within buildings that originated years back.  The issues around the Boilers/Chillers at the High School and Elementary School stemmed from the lack of/poor maintenance over time.  An Insurance claim was denied and this is a pretty costly fix.  The current board and current Superintendent/Administration are looking at this very closely along with outside consultants, not only to fix the problems but also to ensure the same problems do not happen again.


3. What would your approach be to improving the public schools performance and image?

The district is working very diligently to have the students in class as much as possible while keeping them as safe as possible with the Covid Pandemic  kind of handcuffing our efforts.  However, in school attendance has been increasing.  Increased attendance will help the students. 




[   ]  Lawrence Choby

1. What experiences and skills do you possess that would enable you to be an effective and successful Penn Hills School Director?


My experience as a health care finance/administration/ human resources professional has given me the skills to continue to effectively oversee the affairs of publicly supported organizations. I have two bachelor degrees one in sociology, another in accounting and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Pittsburgh. I retired in 2017 as the Chief Financial Officer at Asbury Heights, a life care community in Mt Lebanon now affiliated with UPMC. In late 2019 I took an opportunity with the United States Census Bureau as it performed the 2020 decennial census. I was one of six census field managers who oversaw approximately 1,500 enumerators and supervisors in Allegheny County. The census was completed at 100%. In addition, I have developed grant applications, performed reviews of program grants, and completed program performance reviews for health care and social welfare organizations locally and nationally for many years. I fully intend to attend every board meeting. 


2. What do you feel are the school district's biggest problems and how would you fix them?

The most pressing issue facing the community is the continued stress on the taxpayers. I strongly support any effort that would lessen the burden on Penn Hills taxpayers, at the local, state or national level. I recognize that the quality of education should not be jeopardized on financial decisions alone and that the Penn Hills School District must continue to meet the challenge of declining enrollment while making the necessary future adjustments to the curriculum to meet changing careers. I will advocate for the Penn Hills School District, anywhere at any time.


3. What would your approach be to improving the public schools performance and image?

I encourage and support any efforts that would continue to publicize the successes of the Penn Hills Schools including a comprehensive public relations campaign. There are many examples of numerous Penn Hills public school graduates getting advanced degrees from prestigious universities both here and abroad and the successes of so many athletes are well known. But I think a greater success may be in providing an education that gives all students a start to a useful, productive and rewarding life. These achievements are documentable and should be used to highlight the very real positives of the Penn Hills School District.   




[   ]  Marisa Jamison    


1. What experiences and skills do you possess that would enable you to be an effective and successful Penn Hills School Director?

Currently being on the Penn Hills School Board has given me the experience and knowledge to continue servicing.  I am an active  member in the community with an extensive background in Mental Health. I am currently a Service Coordination Supervisor with Western   Psychiatric  Hospital, where I've been employed for the last 19 years.  I have  worked in the mental health field servicing children and adults who are diagnosed   with a mental health disorder.  Lending my advisory skills in mental health would be an asset to the  Penn Hills  School  District and the children that are served. 


2. What do you feel are the school district's biggest problems and how would you fix them?

Currently this biggest issue I see within the school district are the loss of many students to the Charter Schools.  This causes a financial burden on the school district, while facing a decline in enrollment. The Coronavirus pandemic has contributed to the loss of students to Charter Schools.  Advisory committees to explore strategies on bringing children back to the Penn Hills School system is most important.  Public Forums and the use of Social Media platforms discussing the educational and social benefits of the Penn Hills School District would be beneficial. 


3. What would your approach be to improving the public schools performance and image?

Continued use of technology and improvements with building parent, student and administrators relationships are vitally important as we return to   the classrooms. 





[   ]  Nicole Richardson        

1. What experiences and skills do you possess that would enable you to be an effective and successful Penn Hills School Director?


While I will be new to being a member on a school board, I am a parent of a Penn Hills student.  I have a background working in public, charter, and private school settings. I spent the first half of my career working in business management in the public and nonprofit sector.  I understand the need to have the right people in the right positions at the right time and what an impact that makes.  I have managed budgets both large and small with much success.  I pride myself in building strong partnerships and relationships with my colleagues to ensure we work together to meet our goals.


2. What do you feel are the school district's biggest problems and how would you fix them?

I feel the biggest problem facing the district is fiscal responsibility.  It will be important to take an indepth look at the district's budget to ensure spending is happening that will enhance student experience and outcomes and support faculty and staff.


3. What would your approach be to improving the public schools performance and image?

Penn Hills needs to take a strong look at why the district sees a large student population ( and the funds that follow) moving towards charter and private schools. What are parents looking for and how can the district  meet their needs. Promote the features and benefits of attending school in Penn Hills and how it brings a strong sense of community.  Reach out to Alum and share their success stories.  Penn Hills has so much to offer, focus on sharing it with the community.

 



[   ]  Michael S. Tauro


1. What experiences and skills do you possess that would enable you to be an effective and successful Penn Hills School Director?


I served the last four years, I have lived in Penn Hills for 66 years, education at Penn Hills.


2. What do you feel are the school district's biggest problems and how would you fix them?

Charter Schools. We spend $9,399,549.69 (2020-2021) for 932 charter school students from this district. Transportation for these students should come out of parents, if they want to send their children to charter school. Also, they should support our Penn Hills School District.


3. What would your approach be to improving the public schools performance and image?


Better education by our certified administration and our teachers!




[   ]  Evelyn Herbert    (Did not respond)       




[   ]  Nicholas Lombardo    (Did not respond)    




REPUBLICAN PRIMARY 


Penn Hills Council: No candidates filed. 


Candidates cross-filed for School Director (Vote for up to 4 - see their answers above): 


[   ] Joseph Capozoli 

[   ] Lawrence Choby 

[   ] Evelyn Herbert 

[   ] Nicholas Lombardo 

[   ] Michael S. Tauro