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Six council seats up for grabs in Lansdowne

October 28, 2011

Times Correspondent

LANSDOWNE — With current council members Barbara Silzle and Billy Smith stepping down, and Stephen Wagner completing his second term, three at-large council seats are opening up this election.

Republicans John Mansure, Stephen Bochanski and Lansdowne GOP Chairman James R. Murphy have entered the fray against Democrats Robert Radich, Marianne Henry Saylor and Wagner.

Murphy, 58, has lived in Lansdowne 33 years. He describes himself as a self-employed government consultant and member of the St. Charles Borromeo Church Finance Committee. Murphy is married and has six children.

Murphy maintained that at the national level, “taxing the rich has been the call to arms for the Democratic Party.” At the local level, a Democratic-led council and school board have continually hiked taxes and fees over the past 10 years even though “we are not rich in Lansdowne.”

“Enough is enough,” Murphy said. “There are too many empty houses and abandoned businesses. The streets are in poor shape” and many “services no longer exist.”

If residents call borough hall, he said, they get an answering machine that tells them to leave a message. “Maybe it’s time we do so,” Murphy said.

Wagner, 37, argued the borough has seen modest tax increases annually because “costs of services go up, but the value of assessments don’t.” Trash and sewer fees are tied to factors not in the borough’s control, Wagner said, such as the county’s decision to stop paying tipping fees.

As chair of the borough’s Economic and Code Enforcement committees, Wagner said he hopes to continue improving the vitality of downtown businesses and cultivating Lansdowne’s thriving arts community with venues like the 20/20 House.

Wagner also is involved in renovating the Twentieth Century Club, a revenue-generator for the borough.

Wagner said he will remain “aggressive in enforcing property maintenance, and be as responsible as possible with taxpayer dollars.” Organizing neighborhoods into civic associations and advocacy groups is another goal. Continued...

Wagner earned an undergraduate degree at Rutgers University and is presently employed in health care marketing. He also owns and manages Sycamore, a restaurant in Lansdowne.

Wagner has lived in the borough about eight years with his wife and two children.

Also on the Democratic slate, Radich, 50, attended Duquesne University before earning an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh.

He is vice president of HSBC Bank’s Global Banking and Markets Division, and he has served as one of the borough’s elected auditors since 2007.

If elected, Radich would resign as auditor.

A resident since 1994, Radich volunteers as treasurer of the Lansdowne Boys and Girls Club and is a past member of the Lansdowne Economic Development Corp.’s board of directors. He and his wife have two children.

Radich said his time as auditor has given him a “high level sense of how the borough works.” Radich said, if elected, he would work with Lansdowne’s Economic Development Corp. “to bring more viable, sustainable businesses into the borough.”

Lansdowne’s designation as a “No Place for Hate” community was among the factors persuading Saylor to become a resident in 2004.

A graduate of Bennington College and the City University of New York’s School of Law, Saylor is a partner at Willig, Williams & Davidson, where she represents injured workers in workers’ compensation proceedings.

Saylor also conducts seminars for labor organization and community groups. Continued...

Active in the Lansdowne Democratic Party since 2007, Saylor said she’s “committed to maintaining the strong community now thriving in Lansdowne, as well as helping to continue its development as a destination for the arts.”

Mansure believes Lansdowne is “in dire need of reform.” A lifelong borough resident, Mansure, 33, graduated from Penn Wood High School and attended college at Penn State’s Harrisburg Campus, graduating in 2000. He also holds a master’s in English from West Chester University.

Presently employed as a paraprofessional in life skills at Penncrest High School, Mansure participates actively in community outreach programs affiliated with his parish. He is single.

Mansure says his highest priority if elected would be to “listen to the concerns of the borough’s residents” without “playing political sides against each other.”

Specifically, Mansure said he wants to “improve public safety, reduce crime, make necessary improvements to the streets, create an attractive town environment, eliminate wasteful spending, and boost the vitality and strength of the borough by creating and maintaining viable resources and assets in town.”

Also a lifelong resident, Bochanksi, 23, graduated from Monsignor Bonner High School, holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Villanova University, and works for an engineering firm in Fort Washington.

Bochanski has been a member of the Lansdowne Boys Club for 15 years.

He said he wants to “take a serious look at our borough’s spending and cut out any waste or inefficiencies to help stop the tax increases that have been facing our residents.”

Like his colleagues, Bochanski wants to foster “a more business-friendly atmosphere in the heart of the borough,” he said, by encouraging a “constant dialogue with our local business owners to find out how the borough’s policies are affecting them

— Willig Williams & Davidson, Philadelphia

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