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Council endorses candidates

Local contenders make their case for 2021 elections

The Blair-Bedford Central Labor Council endorsed candidates for City Council, the Altoona Area School Board, the Logan Township Board of Supervisors and Hollidaysburg Area School Board on Thursday, after hearing presentations at the Labor Council’s Municipal Candidates Night.

Winning endorsements for City Council, with four seats open for each party: Republicans Dave Butterbaugh and Bruce Kelley, both incumbents, along with Dave Ellis; and Democrats Bridgette Jackson, Mike Leonard, Bryant Giselman and Darius Morgan — all of whom spoke at the event.

Also running for City Council are Republicans Terry Figart and Ron Beatty, both of whom spoke, plus Dennis Shreve.

Winning endorsements for Altoona school board seats, with four seats open and all candidates cross-filed, were incumbent Dave Francis, Tina Johnston and Val Mignogna, all of whom spoke, along with incumbent Rick Hoover.

Also running are Mike Miller, Jeff Lane, Stephanie McGinnis, Kylie Lynch, John Donley and incumbent Kelly Irwin Adams.

Winning an endorsement for the single open seat on the Logan Township Board of Supervisors was Republican incumbent Ed Frontino. Republican Ed Kreuz is also running.

Winning an endorsement for Hollidaysburg Area School Board was Christopher Garman, who is cross-filed. Also running are incumbents Scott Brenneman and Ronald Sommer, along with Carmen Bilek, Jonathan Grier, Jennifer Costanza, Richard Latker, all cross-filed, and Eric Eminhizer.

Labor Council President Bob Kutz asked all the City Council candidates how they’d likely vote on Prospect Pool — the future of which is uncertain, because of the need for expensive repairs and difficulties finding lifeguards.

“A lot of us grew up in that place, and we sure would not like to see it boarded up,” Kutz said. All the council candidates who made a presentation spoke in favor of keeping Prospect open.

It should help that the city is slated to get $40 million from the recently passed American Rescue Plan — a “once-in-a-lifetime” infusion, Kelley said.

Points made by the candidates:

City Council

ö Butterbaugh: His work ethic, his extensive knowledge of municipal practices, based on his observations as a surveyor; his familiarity with the city’s effort to contend with blight, the need to maintain connections with local lawmakers and the need to expand the city’s tax base.

ö Kelley: His service on many local boards and in local organizations, his past work as an aide to elected officials, the need to enable residents to feel safe by ensuring strong police and fire services in the city, the need for more housing attractive to older people and the need for sidewalk and curb repairs.

ö Ellis: His long career in law enforcement, much of it dedicated to dealing with drug crime, starting with the Altoona Police Department and recently finishing with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, the last 12 years as an administrator; the need for keeping neighborhoods safe and the need to support businesses to help ensure family-sustaning jobs.

ö Figart: His lack of a “political agenda,” his desire to serve the community and to help people, his accessibility and willingness to listen to others’ concerns and ideas and the need to build the tax base “to keep a handle on taxes.”

ö Beatty: His long career as a business owner, which has given him experience in all facets of management; his desire to see Altoona keep more of its young people after they finish school — unlike his own three children, who sought opportunity elsewhere; his support of the arts, the need to stem the blight in order to avoid the relentless demolition of houses that are unlikely to be replaced; the need to deal with drug crime.

ö Jackson: Her work ethic, her young family, her wish to make Altoona a place where everyone can “learn and flourish” “regardless of color, social status,” economic status, gender identification, etc; her involvement in “grass roots movements.”

ö Leonard: The need to bring Altoona back to what it was, when kids walking down the street didn’t cause concern; the need to contend with poverty; the need to support poor people with services like public transportation; his experience as a truck driver and more recently, his experience as the safety director for Altoona Pipe & Steel.

ö Giselman: His being raised by a single mother, his education in criminal justice and business; his sympathy for the poor people he sees in the community; his wish to help them; his disinclination to “sugarcoat anything,” the need to hold public officials “accountable,” his sense that Altoona is in decline.

ö Morgan: His absence of prior political experience, the fact that “every great politician has a starting point,” his youth (he’s 25); an appearance that is unconventional for someone running for office, with lots of tattoos, long hair and piercings; the need for leaders to listen and then push so that people who can make beneficial changes understand what needs to be done; the need to support the city’s shelters for women and teens.

AASB

ö Francis: The need for more social workers to nurture students “socially, emotionally, mentally”; the need to get students involved and to ensure they can get along with their peers.

ö Johnston: Her wish to be a voice for kids who just get by, who don’t have parents who will make supportive decisions for them, the kids who are “lost,” even homeless, the kids who are getting ready to graduate without knowing what direction their lives may take.

ö Mignogna: His 34-year career in health care, including recent years with Empower360, an unconventional organization that seeks to eliminate wasted health resources and to realign incentives; his lack of a “specific agenda” for the school board; his wish to “be a good steward for the community”; his willingness to receive input from teachers, students and the public; and his accessibility.

Logan Township Board of Supervisors

ö Frontino: His work for Granger — “the ones who get things done” — not because he’s claiming that personally, but because good citizens “make people like me in government look really good”; the amicable relations that the current board of supervisors has with township employees, reflected in the contract negotiated last year.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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