Pine Board of Supervisors race heating up with six candidates
Monday, October 21, 2019 | 12:01 AM
In May’s primary election, seven Republican candidates for the Pine Board of Supervisors campaigned for three spots in November’s general election.
Now, five of the seven candidates are on the ballot.
The Republican race was close, with incumbent Pat Avolio winning the most votes with 421, or 18.08 percent of the vote. He was followed by challenger Jack Donahue, who got 343 votes, or 14.73 percent, and fellow challengers Ryan Colombo and Jeff Romano each with 334 votes. Colombo won the casting of lots, which is used as a tiebreaker in Allegheny County, and will be the third candidate on the Republican side.
Jeffrey Hyams was the lone Democrat in the primary, and he will be joined on the ticket by Romano and Jeff Fisher, who also ran as Republican in the primary.
In Richland, Donna Snyder is running unopposed for reelection as supervisor-at-large, George Allen is running unopposed for reelection in District 3 and Ray Kendrick is running unopposed for reelection in District 4.
Here are three questions we asked the six candidates running for a total of three seats on the Pine Board of Supervisors, each for four-year terms.
Why did you decide to run for election? What is the biggest issue that needs to be addressed? What do voters need to know about you?
Jeff Romano, Democrat
• I became interested in running for the Supervisors Board based on my recent experience with the township and developers that involved my neighborhood. I have also had a multitude of concerned residents reach out to me in regards to these issues because they have expressed very similar negative experiences of their own with the township. We share these major concerns about the direction that Pine Township may be heading, and that is what prompted me to want to run for the board and be a new voice that will lead to a positive change in Pine Township.
• Looking at the direction the township has been heading, I feel development will continue to be an issue. Loss of green space will unfortunately be an issue over the next several years if changes are not made with the current board. With the growth of the township do we have the infrastructure to support the growth? Do we have enough police, firemen, and resources to handle the increase in population? Do we have the maintenance in place to keep our roadways safe and clear? As the school population continues to grow, will there be a need to expand again in the near future? All of these are pressing issues that need to be taken into account.
• My primary goal is to establish an open line of communication between the Supervisors Board and the residents of Pine. I will work to establish fiscal responsibility and inform the tax paying residents of Pine how and why their tax dollars are being spent. I have no conflicts of interest when potential projects or developments are brought to the board, and I would have unbiased judgment concerning the finances of Pine Township. I will work to preserve green space within Pine Township, which is what attracted many residents to make their homes here. I am concerned about the amount of development that clear cuts all green space. At some point, enough is enough.
Jeff Hyams, Democrat
• I have always tried to give back to my community, whether by donating my time, money, or helping coach my children’s hockey teams. I have always done my civic duty and voted, but during the last few years I have come to realize I can contribute more. I spent the last year learning as much as I can about Pine government and the issues facing our residents. I want to bring new ideas and a fresh perspective to Pine — the community that my family and I have adopted as our own.
• There is a pressing need to balance new development with concerns of existing residents and areas. We must take residents’ concerns seriously when deciding on approvals for development. It is necessary to consider how new development may affect traffic, snow removal, police and fire protection, personal property, and our environment. Likewise, we must work together to keep fracking out of Pine. I will work to update our 2-, 5-, and 10-year plans to address these issues in a way that is responsive and responsible in order to keep Pine the beautiful community it is now.
• As supervisor, I want to make sure that every citizen of Pine has a voice and that their concerns are heard and taken into consideration. I will bring openness and transparency to every discussion and issue brought before me. As a robotics engineer, I have been driven to solve difficult problems my entire life; I assure each of you that I will apply that same drive to reach sensible, knowledgeable, and fair solutions as your Pine supervisor.
Pat Avolio, Republican
• I am running for re-election as I believe that Pine is great community in which to live and raise a family and that my qualifications, leadership, and efforts have made a positive impact in improving our community. Pine is recognized as a premier community in the region and has received multiple awards from Pennsylvania, Allegheny County, and multiple independent entities since I first became a Supervisor in 2014. I believe that my experience, long-term vision, accessibility, knowledge of municipal governance, long history of volunteering in the community, and ability to work together will continue to make Pine better for residents, now and in the future and sets me apart from the other candidates.
• Balancing infrastructure needs and new growth in accordance with the comprehensive plan adopted in 2016 to align with the current and future needs of residents, while ensuring that a positive business growth environment and fiscal policies that have kept taxes low are continued are important issues. Regarding growth, I believe in updating township ordinances using a reasonable and balanced approach to development in order to minimize adverse impacts to existing property owners while maintaining private property rights, which is important to avoid the courts finding the township financially liable. I have a record of incorporating lawful approval conditions on new developments to protect residents and having developers improve infrastructure which have withstood multiple court challenges.
• I have lived and raised my family in Pine for over 23 years and have seen a great deal of positive change in the community and recognize the need to continue to make it better for the future. I am fiscally conservative, maintaining a balanced budget, paying off all township debt, and am proud to have led efforts to adopt the Homestead Exemption, reducing real estate taxes over $480,000 in 2019 and projected to save residents over $500,000 in 2020. It has been a privilege to serve as a Supervisor the last five years and I would appreciate your vote on Nov. 5.
Jeff Fisher, Democrat
• My platform first and foremost is to serve the people of Pine Township without bias and to promote a greener, healthier community for all. I am pro development candidate and believe that any landowning citizen in Pine Township has the right to develop their property. However, with development there are rules in place to ensure that all residents’ rights are protected and those who develop property should be held accountable to following the rules. My experiences dealing with the current board of supervisors and planning commission have caused me to want change for Pine Township and its residents.
• Certainly we have to examine thoroughly the unfettered, unchecked development that has been causing undue traffic, safety and environmental hazards. We have to ensure that regulations are not circumvented and that there are no potential conflicts of interest that compromise the planning process.
• I’ll be a listener, taking input from others when making decisions on behalf of the tax paying citizens of Pine Township. Challenges and concerns should not be driven by profits but by positive outcomes for all who live and work here. I’ll be fiscally responsible. Managing Pine Township is no different than running a successful business. Sound discipline must be in place when it comes to spending the hard-earned dollars of the tax paying citizens of Pine Township. I’ll welcome change. Old ways are not always the best way in the world we live in today. Bringing in fresh new ideas, as well as input from others, ensures Pine Township is current and up to date. I’ll embrace transparency. There should never be a hidden agenda when it comes to making decisions on behalf of the residents of Pine Township. I’ll adhere to the rule. The rules of Pine Township are there to protect the rights of all citizens. However, rules can be changed provided there is a benefit to all who might be impacted from such a decision.
Ryan Colombo, Republican
• Pine Township has been and continues to be a fantastic place to live and to raise a family; I want to do my part to ensure the continued success of Pine Township, so that all families can grow up in a vibrant community with low taxes, first class public facilities, and premier schools.
• Continued strategic, sustainable growth. Growth in our township can be a fantastic thing. When done correctly, it leads to lower taxes for citizens — or a Homestead Tax Rebate, and enhances the community. When done poorly, it is net-neutral or worse for taxes, and ruins neighborhood home values and the community ambiance. I will ensure that all growth in the township is done in a manner that helps keeps our taxes low — which involves looking at the current and future costs of township projects, and enhances the ambiance of the township. I’ll also work to protect the interests of existing residents.
• If you want a Supervisor who will value your opinion, keep taxes low, support strategic and sustainable growth, and is invested in the future of this township, then I’m your candidate. … Pine Township is a suburban family community, and I am a true representative of the constituency. I am a full-time lawyer, a father of three children — ages 6, 4, and 8 months — the husband of a lawyer, a Pine-Richland coach, a member of Saints John and Paul Parish, an avid runner, and a committed Penguins fan. I am running as one of you to represent our interests and our families’ future.
Jack Donahue, Republican
• I believe Pine Township could benefit by an infusion of new, positive and fresh ideas that ensure all citizens of Pine Township have a voice. Since I began running for Board of Supervisors along with Jeff Fisher and Jeff Romano, many people I am meeting in Pine Township feel very strongly that we need fresh ideas and new and positive energy that will support the existing citizens of Pine Township. They are very supportive and excited to see a positive change.
• There are several issues. Rules and regulations have been summarily ignored and violated, and they need to be followed at the planning and supervisors levels. Irresponsible development has taken place that has disrupted and damaged adjacent neighborhoods and wetlands. Snarled traffic has resulted as a result of irresponsible development, and student safety has been compromised, as well. Non-township road maintenance within Pine Township has been largely ignored. If I am fortunate enough to be elected to the board, I will be open to hearing all other items which may be of concern to our citizens and do my best to address them.
• My family and I love living in Pine Township and believe the quality of life here is second to none. I’d like to keep it that way. I am running because of several years of negative experiences dealing with current Pine Township Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. Neighbors and other Pine residents have urged me to step up. Now along with my running mates, Jeff Romano and Jeff Fisher, the three of us believe, if elected as a team, we could do great things for Pine Township. In addition to the above, I am running for Supervisor because many people have asked me to give them a voice. They feel the Supervisors, in many instances, already have their minds made up before the scheduled Supervisor Meetings are held for citizens to present their concerns. If people want to vote for the “same-old, same-old”, then I am probably not their guy. It is critical for voters to also vote for Jeff Fisher and Jeff Romano in order to ensure and effect change. From what I am hearing our people want a change.