2 seats open in Bellevue’s 1st Ward

Bellevue has decisions to be made for council representatives in all three of the borough's wards.

In the First Ward, voters will choose two people for council. The sole incumbent running this year is seeking re-election. Kathy Coder is joined on the Republican ballot by Alexander Scioscia, who is not seeking election, and, according to family, appears on the ballot only because of some mix-up in his attempt to withdraw after the primary. The Democratic ballot features Val Pennington and Jodi Hause.

Several questions were presented to all of the candidates except Scioscia. Coder and Pennington are the only candidates to respond. Their unedited responses are printed here:

Employment/education

Coder: President/Founder Inta-Great, Leadership Training and Development Consultant. Master of Science in Organizational Leadership. BA/BS Communications and Business

Pennington: I'm the Girls Varsity Head Volleyball Coach here at Northgate High, and concurrently work in management for UPMC Health Plan. My professional career spans 30 years and is an eclectic mix of Sales, Management, Administration, Public Speaking, Coaching, and Service. In healthcare, finance, and public safety industries, I have negotiated six figure contracts with small town governments, supervised staffs of dozens of people, served on boards, and functioned as an employee/management liaison. I attended the University of Pittsburgh and hope to attain my MBA.

Community service

Coder: (2009-Present)2 terms Bellevue Council (President 2009-2011) (Acting Vice President)

Wrote/awarded grants for Allegheny Together (Business District revitalization) Streetscape, Skateplaza-2.5M, Playful Cities/Kaboom playground; Lead the renovation of the Bellevue Borough Building.

(2008-Present) Founder/Chair Bonafide Bellevue/BIGr (2008-present) which has created Improve the Vue, House Tour, Live-Learn-Grow, Herb Garden, Bike and Hike Trail and Farmers Market partnership.

(2013-2015) President of CONNECT (Congress of Neighboring Communities) Appointed by the City, County and 40 urban core communities to lead a bi-partisan group of elected officials to work on Regional issues together.

(2012-Present) Appointed by ALCOSAN as a Three Rivers Wet Weather board member to represent all Allegheny County municipalities in the planning of sewer and storm water management. Brought planning and budget to Bellevue's MS4 plan and Sewer consent order.

(2010-Present) Quaker Valley Council of Government Delegate (COG) Appointed by Bellevue Council to work with Northern Tier communities on Inter-Governmental cooperation and shared services.

(2015-Present) Board Member Local Government Academy (LGA. (2012-Present) Board Member North Hills Community Outreach

Pennington: I've helped showcase our grand, classic homes via participation in Bonafide Bellevue's annual house tour. I've pitched in during clean sweep events. I'm teaching some of our brightest students to be strong, powerful, assertive leaders through my involvement with Northgate athletics. I'm looking forward to our Annual Bellevue/Avalon Police vs Community Volleyball game on November 15th. I'm proud of my children who have won awards in the Halloween parade the last few years and are active at the library and throughout our community. I've been a fixture at local sporting and community events, council and school board meetings. I've volunteered in our schools, as well as contributed as a tour guide in Enjoy Bellevue's Summer Solstice Spectacular. I'm an active and engaged member of this community that I love since moving to Bellevue 10 years ago.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing your borough and how would you address them if elected?

Coder: Safety-Continuing to work with our Police Department to create a plan, and accountability around the following items: Providing more Police presence on Lincoln Avenue and the streets; Eliminating drugs/dealers in Bellevue-That we would have a no tolerance reputation; Working with agencies and other communities to eliminate the opioid crisis; Create a state of the art Department that would be known for their communication and customer service.

Community and Economic Development-Work in tandem with our Community Development Corporation to attract and incentivize businesses and restaurants to invest in Bellevue. Create opportunities for youth, minorities, and all residents to participate in activities that will promote a better community. I would do this by: Working with the school district to create a joint marketing plan to market Bellevue. Create and implement a business development strategy for attracting diverse stores/eateries to become a destination in the Region, and North Boroughs. Work with the School District to create internships with businesses and socialprenuer opportunities for our youth. Create tax incentives for new businesses, and minority owned businesses. Continue to promote Bellevue to the Region by being a part of boards, etc.

Accountability-Provide leadership to create systems and processes to assure the Council is stewarding the Borough's resources well. Lead initiatives to: Have the council, Mayor, and leaders of Departments create a strategic plan and specific goals, as well as develop performance evaluations for all employees around these goals. The implementation of this plan would eliminate personal agendas, and focus council/employees on moving Bellevue to accomplish goals. Require quarterly updates on the budget year to date. Council/Department Heads would use this data to be strategic in the Borough's spending. Contract an outside agency to oversee bill paying, and regular reports on our financial status. Utilize social media, the Borough website, and technology to increase transparency and be more accountable to Bellevue. Engage a plan to enforce laws, especially concerning blighted properties.

Pennington: We need to repair some long-neglected infrastructure and find the revenue to do so without negatively affecting our already overburdened tax base. We also have an issue with under maintained/abandoned/blighted properties, which is a big concern of many of our residents that I speak with. I feel we can attack both of these problems in one initiative through the borough seeking conservatorship on some of these abandoned properties, rather than paying for the maintenance and getting nothing in return. Liens aren't enough to motivate the owners, we need to look at taking these properties over, preparing them for sale, and utilizing the profits to aid our repair efforts.

Why are you running for office?

Coder: I have worked hard to bring good government and leadership practices to Bellevue and the Council. Because of past practices, my enthusiasm, ideas, and leadership, have not always been met with open arms. I have persevered and proven I am a woman of action and Bellevue's biggest cheerleader. I believe Bellevue is at the brink of greatness. I want to continue to be a part of the positive momentum of Bellevue's future. With a common purpose and a new group of council members, I believe, we can realize the dream of seeing Bellevue's potential become reality.

Pennington: A little over a year ago, I attended a council meeting with my son, who was 8 at the time, to teach him about the civic process. The dysfunction I witnessed led me to review old council minutes going back a few years to get a bigger picture. From this I learned that we ALL should be more engaged with our local government, as all of their decisions are supposed to be on our behalf. We need them to be better. I want to be part of that better version of our local government.

Any other statement you would like to make?

Coder: I am a proponent of term limits, and this will be my final term. Along with all of the other items I've outlined, if elected, I intend to invest in the next generation of council members, and create sustainability for Bellevue to continue to thrive and be the best place in the Region, to LIVE WORSHIP SHOP!

Pennington: I've graduated one child from Northgate school district and have two more to go. I'm here for the long haul and want Bellevue to be the kind of community that not only is beloved to its citizens, but a community that loves ALL of its citizens as well. I plan to be the representative for All of Bellevue, not only Ward 1. I ask each of you to join me in my quest to bring about Bellevue's renaissance. I'd like to thank my family, all of my supporters, and everyone who spoke openly and generously when I knocked on their door. I ask for your vote as an act of good faith and partnership in helping to cultivate the kind of Bellevue that will be seen as a model community--the one we desire and deserve.