First Posted: 5/15/2013
Three candidates are running for two seats on Pittston City Council.
Current Councilman Michael Lombardo, former councilman Kenneth Bangs and citizen activist Barb Zangre are seeking Democratic nominations. No Republicans are running.
Mayor Jason Klush is supported by Lombardo and Bangs and Gene Rooney has an ally in Barb Zangre.
Zangre is not shy about criticizing the current administration, stressing a need for increased emphasis on Pittston’s neighborhoods, as well as on its parks and recreation.
“To me, quality of life is extremely important,” Zangre said. “I think it’s important that we embrace the needs of our seniors and our youth, who are our past and our future, to create a strong community. I think it is the responsibility of a community to have facilities and places for people to have fun and relax and enjoy their life.”
Among Zangre’s proposed ideas are plans for the possible creation of a dog park, walking and skateboarding trails and the re-opening of Pittston’s public swimming pool.
Lombardo responded by saying the current administration has had ideas of its own about how to improve the city’s quality of life. These have included partnering with the YMCA on various programs, the continuation of the Pittston Tomato Festival, the organization of a new music festival and the institution of Second Fridays downtown, which replicates the arts and entertainment-centered First Fridays of Scranton and Third Fridays of Wilkes-Barre.
“We’re doing a lot of things to enrich life in the community,” Lombardo said, “but that’s only one aspect of what a municipality has to do. It also has to pay the bills. We’ve balanced our budget every year and reduced property taxes.”
More important for Lombardo is the continuation of the city’s Neighborhood Housing Initiative, which seeks to combat blight and bring in more residents through the generation of affordable housing.
Initiatives like this inspire former council member Bangs to seek a return to a council position after a hiatus following his previous two terms. Bangs echoed Lombardo’s comments about improving the state of the neighborhoods and removing blight, stating that plans to do so are chief among his priorities.
“The city is moving in the right direction and I just want to make sure things continue in the way they’re going, continue the progress of many projects,” Bangs said.
Running unopposed in the primary is incumbent city controller Chris Latona. This is the last election his seat will be on the ballot, as Home Rule, which passed last year, eliminates the position.