I’ve always believed that we as elected officials owe it to you to explain where we stand and what we want to do. So if you were not one of the more than 220 people who packed our campaign kickoff event at the Arnold Palmer Airport I wanted to share with you my address that night. It’s my promise to you.
I am honored and humbled by your support, and I am so glad that you are all here tonight with me and my family.
I have learned a lot over the past four years about how to be a better commissioner, a better communicator, a better listener and a better person. I’ve also learned that no one likes a long campaign speech. So I’m not going to focus on everything I’ve done, or what I want to do. Instead I want to focus on all of you who are here, and all those I have the privilege to serve.
This room tonight is in many ways symbolic of my job as your Commissioner. It’s really everything that makes Westmoreland great. People from various walks of life, various interests and various abilities. I’ve worked with all of you to meet our shared goals of making sure that Westmoreland County is a great place to live and work, and that county government is open, accessible and responsive.
I’ll say, first, thank you for the faith you have placed in me. I never forget the importance of the work that I am entrusted to do.
To those in the business community – the entrepreneurs, the employers – we’ve worked to make sure that Westmoreland County is the right place to do business. That our industrial parks offer a menu of space, amenities and opportunities. We’ve worked together to keep Westmoreland’s unemployment rate consistently lower than the state and national numbers. Specifically, we’re working to expand business opportunities at our Airpark not far from here, completing the renovation of the massive RIDC Westmoreland complex, and building a new industrial park in Sewickley.
We’ve worked to make this very airport the economic driver it is today. And I’ll remind you that when I first took office there were zero commercial passengers here. Tonight, you likely ran into some of the 300,000 passengers who will fly from this airport this year.
To workers and labor leaders, we’ve proven that we can have ample job opportunities and good wages. I’ve been honored to have the support of organized labor since I took office. Being raised in a blue-collar home, it is support that means so much to me. I’ve made certain that you’re a continued partner in our development efforts. Through our new Advanced Technology Center at the Community College we’re making sure that the next generation of workers has the needed skills to contribute. And I’ve learned an important lesson from you – that I will never ask a worker to make a sacrifice I’m not willing to make myself.
To the mayors, council people and township supervisors here, you have been valued partners. You’ve helped me understand the needs of our local communities and how best to serve your unique area. We’ve worked together on successful community development projects. And the Land Bank I pushed to create is a powerful new tool that is cleaning up blight, stabilizing housing and offering new opportunities for investment in your neighborhoods.
To our outstanding county row officers here, it’s an honor to assist you in making your offices professional and efficient.
I have listened to, and worked for the benefit of, people of all ages and generations. I’ve made sure the seniors here and throughout our county have access to the quality services they’ve earned and deserve. And I’ve worked to make sure that Westmoreland Manor continues to serve our loved ones with high-quality skilled nursing care, and that it remains a trusted county asset.
Our young people here – and really families and people of all ages – have improved recreation options at our Twin Lakes expansion project, whether it’s at the dog park, the winter sports area, or soon a dek hockey rink and amphitheater. And our expanded network of walking and bike trails keeps getting better and better.
To all of us who care so deeply about the safety of our residents and our quality of life in Westmoreland, we have worked to battle the epidemic of drug abuse, and drug overdoses. Through our Drug Overdose Task Force I am co-chairing I am working with our Coroner, healthcare providers, law enforcement and other community partners to bring this growing problem out of the shadows and work towards solutions – like a specialized Drug Court, initiatives to reduce offender recidivism at our jail and championing common sense legislation to save lives and save wasted money.
To our valued first responders, I continue to fulfil my promise to understand your needs, so that the county meets its obligations to help you save lives.
To those with intellectual and developmental disabilities – including two of my boys, Quinn and Alex – I have been honored and proud to be your champion and to advocate for the needs of the special needs community. You two are my inspiration. And thanks to all those with special needs for reminding me to value every individual, take no gift for granted and to work every day to the best of my God-given ability.
I have been proud to represent all of you, and to stand up for you and what we know is right. I have fought – sometimes loudly – to make sure county government is what it should be – cost-effective, accountable, honest and transparent.
Just like all of you have worked to cut costs in your house, I have worked to cut costs in the Courthouse. I have never voted to raise taxes. I have fought against budgets that have doubled the county’s deficit. Fought against no-bid outsourcing contracts and personnel decisions that have cost you dearly. I have lead by example, too, cutting my own personal staff and never taking reimbursement for any of my expenses.
And I’ve always tried to make sure you know what’s going on every step of the way.
I promise to you tonight to continue to work hard, to build on the progress we’ve made together, to always stand up for the best interests’ of taxpayers, and to always tell it like it is. I know no other way. I promise, too, to make this campaign about my record, my actions and my ideas – and also those of our opponents. I will hold my campaign to the standard I expect from others – to make it more than the number of events we attend, the friends we have, or the money we can raise. My campaign will always be about who can do best for Westmoreland, best for the taxpayers who pay our salaries, and best for those who rely on our services.
Throughout, I have never forgotten my roots or who I am. I’m still just a working class guy from little ole Westmoreland City. I’m the guy who coaches kids’ sports, does the dishes, and reads bed time stories – and has a bunch of kids who are wonderful at keeping me humble. They’ve never cared what title or office I hold.
But my upbringing and experience is why I’ve fought for what I believe from the first day I took office. I will never be the guy who goes along just because it’s easy or because there’s something in it for me. Our work is too important, and too many depend on us to get it right. You have my word to never give up or give in.
I am so thankful for your support, your help and your friendship. I’m asking tonight for your continued trust, your help, and your vote.
Thank you all for being here.