May 24, 2010 Speech

(Commissioner Kopas delivered the following speech on May 24, 2010, before the Westmoreland County judges prior to taking office.)

Honorable Judges, it is a pleasure and an honor to be here before you today.

Yet again, you are called to pick a County Commissioner. You have chosen wisely in the past, and I am confident in your wisdom to make the right choice again.

I stand before you today asking for your trust for one simple reason…I can do the job of commissioner and I can do it well.

For the past eight years I have devoted myself to Westmoreland County government and the people we serve. I know the positive impact that government can have on the lives of its citizens, as well as its limitations. I know the financial challenges we face, as well as the opportunities we have to do more with less.

You see, Westmoreland County government is like any of our households. We have to live within our financial means, of course, but we also face important obligations that we cannot walk away from – caring for the young, the aged, the infirmed and those who cannot help themselves.

Given those conditions, county government is changing, and three new programs I helped develop demonstrate its evolution:

  • The Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA, program has been a tremendous partnership between the commissioners and courts to unleash the powers of volunteers to protect children at risk of abuse or neglect.
  • The Westmoreland Land Trust is helping to balance the county’s rural character with the need for economic development.
  •  And our soon-to-open Youth Shelter is filling an important community need for troubled young people, while increasing state reimbursements to the county.

These are examples of how we have been able to improve county service…and the quality of life in our area…while maximizing available resources and stretching precious public dollars. I am proud of my role in all of them.

Further, I believe county government can help foster a good business climate and create economic development opportunities. We can ensure a justice system that is fair and respects everyone’s rights. And we can continue to invest to improve public safety.

But we must never lose sight of our primary mission – to protect the most vulnerable among us.

I believe this because I have worked hard at it the past eight years. And I have lived it.

Having a special needs child in the mental retardation system can be daunting for sure. But it also gives me a perspective – and a drive – that no other candidate here today can offer.

And after all, isn’t that what this is all about – trying to improve our county for the next generation? I owe it to my four…soon to be five…children, as well as all of our county’s children to make Westmoreland County government the best it can be.

Your honors, I care deeply about Westmoreland County, and I recognize the enormous trust I am asking you all to put in me.

I stand here today not to make any outlandish pledges. I promise only to work hard every day for the residents of this great county and to make you proud of the decision you make today.

I would be happy to answer any questions. Thank you for this opportunity.