3 seek nod for mayor of Bellevue

Three people are seeking the Democratic nomination for the mayor’s seat in Bellevue. Two of them are even running write-in campaigns on the Republican ballot. In the interests of transparency, candidate Tom Fodi has sought office twice as a Republican, and declared himself a Libertarian. Paul Cusick has always run for office as a Democrat, although he did switch his voter registration to Republican for a couple years. Emily Marburger is a lifelong Democrat who describes herself as a progressive. The Citizen sent identical questionnaires to all three candidates, and received the following responses, in the candidates’ own words, in alphabetical order. Unfortunately, some candidates were less than complete in their answers, and The Citizen has added relevant information when necessary, in brackets.

Education and work background

Cusick: Robert Morris University – BS – Business Administration – Accounting Major – Summa cum laude; Verizon – Outside Facilities Engineer.

Fodi: Bachelor of Arts, Johnson University, Knoxville, TN, Master of Divinity, Emmanuel Christian Seminary, Johnson City, TN, Captain/Chaplain, US Air Force (2006-2013) – Deployments to Iraq, Kuwait, Alaska; Lead Pastor, Emmanuel Christian Church, Pittsburgh, PA (2008-2014); Lead Pastor, The Hills Church, Upper St Clair, PA (2014-Present); Founder/Owner, Dignity Home Care Professionals, Pittsburgh, PA (2014-2016); Spiritual Care Coordinator/Bereavement Chaplain, Bethany Hospice (2016-Present).

Marburger: I completed my M.B.A. in Management from Point Park University where I also earned two B.A.s (Applied History and Journalism & Mass Communication).While working on my education I began my career in finance. I started as a bank teller at Fifth Third Bank, and quickly advanced to head teller and financial services representative before being promoted on to branch management positions. As manager, I gained experience in staff management, budgeting, conflict resolution, and community outreach. After six years in banking, I took the position of Office Manager at my dad’s fire protection sprinkler design company. I’m gaining experience in fire protection engineering and design, in addition to continuing to hone my expertise in finance, budgets and business evaluation. I spend my days evolving strategy, improving business plans and overseeing all the details that improve our expanding and prosperous business.

Prior/current political involvement
& community involvement

Cusick: Council – 2 terms – 6 years as President, Public Safety, Public Works, and Finance; Mayor – 3 terms; Treasurer – 8 years.NSCoC – 10 years – Treasurer 5 years, Sidewalk sales, Halloween Parade, Light Up Night ,North Suburban Adult Services – Director 2 years; Metowers – Board of Directors , President – 8 years; BIGr – Main street Committee; Hermann Museum – Ex Director/Treasurer – 7 years; VA Hospital – Monthly service to veterans - 7 years; Pleasant Valley Shelter for men – meals – 30 years; Tutoring school children.

Fodi: Member of Council, Bellevue, PA (elected 2015), Bellevue Delegate to the Quaker Valley Council of Governments, Bellevue Delegate to the Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT), Member of the Finance Committee. Member, North Boroughs Fellowship of Ministries; Business Owner in the Bellevue Business District; Frequent Volunteer and Project Leader for a variety of organizations: Improve the Vue, Bellevue Initiative for Growth and Revitalization, National Night Out, North Hills Community Outreach, Shepherds Door, etc. [Mr. Fodi did not include in his answer that he ran for state representative, and was the founder of Liberty in Bellevue, a political organization active in prior elections.]

Marburger: I am a lifelong Democrat and first time candidate running for Bellevue Mayor. I am the co-founder of PGH for Progress and have been a busy volunteer and activist since high school. My favorite organizations include those that support progressive social groups and organizations, cancer research, and children, among others. I am dedicated to improving upon the great work done in recent years in our local community.

Why are you running for office?

Cusick: I want to continue moving Bellevue forward by improving the quality of life through public safety, code enforcement improvement and working with our school district.

Fodi: One of Bellevue’s greatest weaknesses is a lack of vision for the future of the community. Competing factions and individual egos have long barred any meaningful pursuit of a unifying vision and strategic plan to build a bright, successful, and healthy borough. I’m running for Mayor of Bellevue because it’s time for new leadership. Bellevue’s home rule charter describes the mayor as Bellevue’s CEO, thus the Mayor is the public face and ambassador of the borough. The Mayor, just like a corporate CEO or other executive leader, must be the primary vision caster and catalyst for change in the borough. The Mayor should be the primary individual who brings all available stakeholders from the borough around the table creating synergy between individuals and groups of all types in pursuit of a unifying vision for Bellevue. I have the education, experience, and a lifetime in this borough to fill what is currently a void of leadership in Bellevue. I have the necessary experience leading organizations of various sizes and function towards a more successful future. I understand the complex intricacies of visionary budgeting and strategic fiduciary planning. I am a servant at heart and deeply loyal. Bellevue is my home. I graduated from Northgate and after college/graduate school chose to raise my family and lay my roots in Bellevue to help rebuild our struggling community.

Marburger: I am running for office because I know I’m the best person for the job. I recognize that my education and experience qualify me for this CEO position. I also know that I have the ideas and boots-on-the-ground energy to make Bellevue better and stronger: economically and culturally. My fervent commitment to civic duty drives me to get up in the morning. I hope to inspire each and every citizen to work together in the next four years to create the best Bellevue we’ve ever seen.

What experience, personal qualities, etc will you bring to the office, if elected?

Cusick: Twenty years of elected public service in government, Eight years as Treasurer, Community service, Ethical character, Trusted as treasurer in six organizations, Forward looking perspective.

Fodi: I will bring my entire lifetime of getting to know this community. I know how Bellevue thinks and works. I know and understand the good, the bad, and the ugly of Bellevue’s storied political history. I can utilize that experience to move us forward in a way that utilizes the best of what makes Bellevue great and navigating our weaknesses from day one. Additionally, I am a passionate and successful bridge builder. I’m not interested in championing the ideology of one political party over another. I’ve spent my career working intimately with Democrats, Republicans, and independents. I’m intentional about inviting everybody to the table and giving everyone the time and space to be heard. Finally, as a pastor and chaplain, I am a servant at heart. I spend my days caring for others and ensuring that people feel welcome and accepted as they are. I cannot think of a better place to utilize this skill than as the Mayor of the town I love. Few things excite me more about the prospect of serving as mayor than personally inviting and greeting new residents and new businesses to our community and serving their needs throughout my tenure in office.

Marburger: My finance expertise, management experience, and level of education coupled with my commitment to reaching out to Bellevue’s diverse population will help identify areas of common concern and make progress on the issues that Bellevue faces, for all residents. I am confident that all the legwork I have put into connecting with Bellevue representatives and citizens and meeting with neighboring community organizers and leaders will help me strengthen our community. I work hard and think positive by nature, and will approach being mayor with a practical plan of action.

Why should people vote for you?

Cusick: Proven Leadership, Experienced,Trusted.

Fodi: I grew up in Bellevue. My father grew up in Bellevue. My grandfather spent the majority of his life in Bellevue. Bellevue is in my blood. As is servant leadership, vision casting, and creating change. I’m not interested in partisan politics. My interests lie solely with doing the work necessary to build a new Bellevue and serving the people who call Bellevue home. I’m inviting everyone who considers Bellevue home to the table – Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Independents, and everyone in between. Join me. Let’s build a new Bellevue together!

Marburger: I offer voters a strong and focused Mayor who holds progressive values. I am genuinely driven by being the best possible advocate for the needs of the people of Bellevue. I aim to move this community toward its full potential. Voters on May 16 can go to the polls confident in who I am and knowing where my ideals stand. My message is positive, honest and consistent.

Any other statement you would like to make?
Cusick: I have walked the entire borough as I campaigned for my re-election. I have listened to the concerns, the complaints and the suggestions of our citizens. I have viewed the problems of absentee landlords and some home owners who do not maintain their properties. I have traveled the streets that are in need of repair or re-pavement. There is more work to do and I want to be a part of it.

Fodi: [None]

Marburger: I encourage every voter to research my background and values to discover that I am the best candidate to represent their needs. I am committed to integrity and consistent principles, values, and ideals, no matter who is watching. What you see is what you get. I am a lifelong Democrat determined to help Bellevue become a welcoming and successful community for everyone. Making Bellevue a priority, because it deserves to be!