On May 3rd, the Parkesburg Action Committee sponsored a Parkesburg Borough Council Candidate Meet & Greet at the Octorara Jr. High Multipurpose Room. Roughly 25 citizens listened to 5-minute speeches given by each of the candidates in attendance, and then had the opportunity personally ask questions.
Firstly, I would like to encourage people to vote for the Parkesburg Borough Council candidates who actually showed up. Two of the candidates, Joseph W Dynesko Jr and Willard J Marsh did not show up, but were invited. Moreover, I was the only Octorara Area School Director and/or candidate who made an appearance to listen and engage with the Parkesburg Borough Council candidates.
We have a total of 6 Octorara Area School Director candidates, across two Regions, asking for Parkesburg residents to vote for them. Only I showed up interested in what is going on with the Borough Council. What does that say about the other Octorara Area School Director candidates? You decide.
Each of the attending candidates made their speeches. There are only Republicans running for Parkesburg Borough Council, and these names will only appear on the Republican ballot on May 16th, These are my takeaways:
1. Kathleen M. Rick (Incumbent) – Kathy Rick talked about how she moved to Parkesburg in 1978, how she loves and cares about the community, and how active she has been over the years. However, what she did not talk about was her vision, goals, or any real issues facing the Borough. It was the same old “community service” and “giving back” rhetoric that we hear from many local establishment types elected looking to maintain the status quo.
2. Tony Rife (Challenger) – Mr. Rife spoke passionately about the many issues facing the Borough. He recognizes that Parkersburg is not attractive to businesses, there is a growing drug problem, and parts of the Borough are in utter decay. He has a clear vision of linking our business districts and making Parkersburg a more walkable community. Moreover, he would like to see a more engaged and visible Parkersburg Police Department, with better coverage, foot patrols, and community outreach.
3. Scot A Kreger (Challenger) – Parkesburg’s crumbling infrastructure came across as Mr. Kreger’s defining issue. We cannot attract anchor-store businesses into town if it is falling apart. Moreover, Kreger recognizes and understands that both the Borough and Octroara SD property taxes are a big problem. People, especially retirees, are being forced out of their homes.
4. Todd A. Brade (Challenger) – Mr. Brade spoke about needing a Borough Council that has a vision, is passionate, and that has the energy to get things done. He believes Parkesburg has a lot of potential. However, we need officials who are persistent and will follow through. Brade also spoke about the need for greater transparency. Moreover, he wants to work with other municipalities to attract businesses that will increase Octorara’s tax base, and limit the impact of the high school taxes.
5. Mark Agen (Incumbent) – Roughly half of Mr. Agen’s speech seemed to focus on his family and employment background. On the Borough, he talked about the taxes and the need for funds to get things done. Agen is a finance guy who comes across as very knowledgeable about the challenges of funding a budget, but a bit disconnected from the concerns and issues of the typical citizen.
6. Joseph W Dynesko (Incumbent) – No Show
7. Willard J Marsh (Incumbent) – No Show
In addition to the Parkesburg Borough Council candidates, John P Hagan, the sitting Mayor of Parkesburg, is running for re-election on the Democratic ballot unopposed, and there is no candidate on the Republican ballot. Hagan stated this will be his 5th term, and talked about his years in the office. I kinda got the feeling he wished someone would actually run against him.
Overall, the Parkesburg Borough Council Candidate Meet & Greet felt a whole lot like the Octorara Area SD Meet the Candidates Night event. There are the old-guard establishment types on one side, with no new ideas and wanting to keep the status quo. On the other side, there are the new-guard Republicans who want to make real things happen. Republicans will have the opportunity to vote for 4 candidates on their ballots. While this is not an outright endorsement, I plan to vote for Tony Rife, Scot A Kreger, Todd A. Brade, and Mark Agen.