Eight Will Compete for Leetsdale Council
Seven Democrats and one Republican vie for nominations.
On Tuesday, residents in Leetsdale will have to choose from a slate of eight candidates who are seeking four council seats on the primary ballot.
Democratic incumbents Michael Bajsec, Robert Cobourne, Benjimen Frederick and Thomas Brown will face off against Democratic challengers Melanie Dunn, Linda Michael and Joseph McGurk for three of the seats.
Democractic challengers, along with Republican Jeffrey Weatherby, belong to a concerned-citizens group that began questioning the borough last year about its spending practices. Weatherby is seeking the Republican nomination for one of three 4-year seats.
Questioning from the citizens group led Bajsec, council's vice president, to order an independent audit of the borough’s finances. The audit ultimately prompted borough officials to change past spending practices, such as eliminating the use of borough-issued credit cards by individuals and requiring that receipts be turned in after purchases.
Bajsec, who was appointed to council last year, said he had worked for a little more than a year to bring the borough’s business operations up to date.
Bajsec said he’s been creating policies and procedures for day-to-day operations that never existed before to resolve “perceived lack-of-trust” issues with the public.
“I would very much like to continue this work with an eye towards not only completing it, but also to reviving public trust between council and the community,” Bajsec said.
McGurk, a member of the Citizens for Leetsdale, said he believed the biggest problem facing the community is the current council's refusal to accept responsibility for some poor decisions.
If elected, McGurk, a former councilman who has publicly questioned the actions of borough employees, said he would serve the residents of Leetsdale in an honorable way and would listen to residents instead of talking down to them.
“I will restore open and honest government to Leetsdale residents,” he said.
Cobourne, who was appointed to council in October, said he’s running for office because “I want to give back to the community I have lived in for the last 13 years.”
“I believe Leetsdale is an excellent place to live and I want to work hard to improve the perception of our community in the Quaker Valley area,” he said.
He said the biggest problems facing the borough include the need for road and bridge improvements, as well as its negative perception in the eyes of people who don't live there.
Michael, a Citizens for Leetsdale member, said she decided to run after the citizens group “found things that weren’t appropriate.”
“I put my candidacy where my mouth was,” she said at a recent candidates forum in Sewickley.
Michael was born and raised in Sewickley and is the mother of four children. She said she was glad she became involved because she aims to have an open and honest local government that can restore faith back into the community.
“We do have a responsibility as citizens in this country to pay attention at the grassroots level,” Michael said.
Weatherby, a Republican candidate, is all but assured a primary win as the sole person on the ballot. He did not respond to Patch’s request for comment.
Frederick and Brown, both current councilmen, and Dunn, a former council member, also did not respond.