Sewickley Patch recently sat down with Jeremy Angus at the to find out more about the Republican candidate seeking to challenge Democrat incumbent Rob Matzie to serve as the next state representative of the 16th district, which in Allegheny County currently includes the townships of Crescent, and Ross (all of Ward 4 and Ward 9 - Precinct 2) and the boroughs of , Bellevue, and Franklin Park (Ward 1 - Precinct 1 and Ward 2 - Precinct 1).
Angus has formed a campaign committee to seek the Republican nomination and said he intends to make an official announcement among family, friends and supporters on Thursday, Jan. 19. Supporters are invited to attend the free campaign kickoff 7 p.m. at Alexander's in Ambridge. The Primary Election is Tuesday, April 24.
What makes you a qualified candidate?
I graduated from Ambridge in 2008 and I’m currently finishing up at Duquesne, that will be in the spring. I’ve been at the Ambridge Area Chamber of Commerce for four years now, and I’ve been living in Harmony Township all of my life, I was born and raised up there, and that’s kind of my background. I’ve been involved in the community for years so this isn’t a new thing. I’ve alsohelped with my father’s business for years. So, it’s been a very business background behind it, especially for the chamber and business. I’m marketing chair and director for the Friends of Old Economy Board of Directors, also the chairman of the Prevention Network board of directors, an assistant program for students and families. I’m on the Harmony Township planning commission and I am a member of the Ambridge Area Downtown Development Council, which gives me alot of insight in terms of what they really think the future of Main Street is. I see a bright light. I am a member of the Ambridge Area School Board of Directors, and head up their athletics and legislative committee. I also, through the school board, was recently appointed to the Baden Memorial Library Board of Directors as the Ambridge Area School Board representative. I also serve on the Ambridge Area School District Transition Board, a board that is dedicated tohelping students find work and career experience while in the work force. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in the last five years of my life without a doubt and do not question that these experiences can bring a great deal of positive light and a bright future to District 16.
Do you think you could be the first Republican to win the 16th District?
I do think so. The 16th District seat has been held by five people. Some may say it is an honor to serve among those five people, I say that having just those five people may be part of the problem. Our question on that is how great were they? Through the decline of the steel industry, none of them were able to maintain the communities we once had and/or rebuild thecommunities that went on a steep decline. Ambridge went from 20,000 to 7,000 people in the community and has never regained.
Yes, I think I can win. It’s an uphill battle, but I think it’s possible, if people can set party lines aside. I’m not saying some of the stuff Rob [Matzie] has done is wrong, he has done his job description.This is a vital time in our regions area that we need to have more than a job description legislature, we need a fresh set of ideas, and a fresh body who has no allegiance to anyone and has not joined, “the club.” I’m a very democratic Republican at times. I’m a Republican, but at the end of the day if it’s a good idea, it’s a good idea and if it’s a bad idea, it’s a bad idea. If it makes sense, do it and if it doesn’t, don’t do it.
Why do you believe you’d be a better candidate than Rob Matzie?
We need to take the good old boys out of the equation…It doesn’t need to be there. Sadly I feel like that’s how a lot of decisions are made right now. The chamber has taught me more thansitting inside a classroom would teach me. When I took over the chamber we were five figures indebt. Our membership was at 48. It’s now at 115. Membership has doubled. We’ve gone out of debt.
How do you respond to people who say you are too young?
Young isn’t that bad of a thing. People make it sound like its horrible. The Pennsylvania state constitution put in there at 25 you can run for senator and at 21 for state representative. I’m 22. The fore fathers had a plan behind that and I see absolutely nothing wrong with it. I am young and I have fresh ideas. I have not had time to join the good old boys club and I will not be filling out that membership soon.
How has your father inspired your political aspirations?
Watching my father grow up has been a huge inspiration. Development is coming to the Harmony Township corridor as opposed to Ambridge for a reason. Not to diss [Matzie], but Rob was in school for six years, worked in Lavelle’s office for 13 or 14 years ... and then went to become a legislator. Compare the qualifications – and he was a WMBA radio announcer. What I can bring to the table is a lot more than what Rob brought to the table on day 1.
Why do you want to run?
The reason I really want to run is because I have a lot of plans for raising my family here. The chamber has really opened up my eyes to see what life in the community could be. I see the same needs in Aliquippa that I see in Ambridge and in similar ones in Monaca, Rochester, Freedom, , Hopewell, Crescent and all of the other communities in the 16th District. The mentality in Aliquippa is to tear down buildings and new development will build. You couldn’t be more wrong on that statement. New development isn’t going to come because you tear down a building on Main Street….I don’t want to see Aliquippa become a giant green parking lot…and it appears that the current officials in these communities do not see a problem with that or are doing nothing about it. They may say they are, but I don’t see it, I’m still working next to the same dilapidated buildings and watching the same depression fall over the faces of people in the community. I am sick and tired of watching the people who remember the steel mill days walk around with a frown on their face. We are 30 minutes from “America’s Most Livable City,” Pittsburgh, and we aren’t thriving. That is a problem and one I am ready to resolve. This area needs a legislature that is proud to be from here and can be a cheerleader or sorts for this community and that is something that is not occurring now.
Politics is indeed local. What would you do to help constituents in Allegheny County, particularly Leetsdale and Crescent?
Leetsdale has a lot going for them with the industrial park. I’m very impressed by that. Leetsdale is a really unique town as far as I’m concerned. The town is a mix of the industrial park, homes, a few businesses, a neat mix and very successful and impressive to me, the new police station. I would concentrate on opening up the doors to Leetsdale. I think it can be easily forgotten about. You can open up the doors for people to say I’m from Leetsdale and that can be recognized. I think there’s a lot to be recognized in Leetsdale that isn’t properly done. People come from Pittsburgh to eat at places like and see a thriving small town and they need to realize that Leetsdale is open for business. We’re not giving credit where credit is due. I’m sure residents feel that way. They feel forgotten about. In Allegheny County, there are different rules…Your legislator needs to take time to get to know that and it's only fair that your legislator does that. I don’t care if it’s 20 people in the community. They’re taxpayers too and citizens too and that should not and cannot be forgotten about.
Crescent, same thing. I can imagine they almost feel the same way as Leetsdale, outside the immediate district. Where is our legislator and what have they done for us? We’re not running for president, we’re running for state legislator. It’s the last grassroots type of office you can hold. You are right there with the people. You’re involved in the community, living in the community, raising your family in the community because you care about it, you’re still the local guy and they should feel that way too. Nobody should ever have to ask the question who’s my legislator and where is that office? They should know that. They’re paying taxes.