Parkesburg Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire – Joseph Rzonca, Republican

election-2013-buttonThe 2013 Parkesburg local election season consists of only one real competition. It is the race for the office of Mayor between the incumbent John P. Hagan, II (Democratic) and Joseph Rzonca (Republican).

Parkesburg Gazette is committed to insuring local voters are informed. As a result, last week we sent a Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire to both Mayor Hagan and Mr. Rzonco. Below is Joseph Rzonca’s completed form. Mayor Hagan has yet to respond to our email, but we will publish his response when received.

== Biographical Information ==

Name: Joey Rzonca

Age: 34

Occupation: Self employed business owner (Home remodeling) Mr. Everything

Years lived in Parkesburg: 7 years

Family: My family consists of my new fiance Christen, her daughter Rose, and our new born baby Mark

Professional experience: My professional experience is in construction, but I am pursuing a bachelors degree in criminal justice, and would like to become a lawyer in the near future.

Political and civic experience: This is my first time engaging in any political manner, but I have spoken with many political leaders in our area.

Why running for office: In my opinion I think it is time for a new face considering it has been 12 years since we had a new Mayor

== Questionnaire ==

What is the most important issue Parkesburg’s next mayor will face? How would you address and resolve it?
Parkesburg is experiencing a tough budget, but that may be able to be resolved without raising taxes. I will need to take a closer look at the budget if elected to find a solution, but for now I would say motivate the borough manager to get the bridge project started, and repair the roads as needed. The sidewalks are in terrible shape, and very dangerous in some areas. Motivating the council will be near impossible to get things done, but it is worth a try.

Where do you stand on borough spending?
I don’t like borough money being spent unwisely, and the borough going over budgets each year.

Does Parkesburg need more affordable housing? If so, what priorities should guide its development? If not, why not?
I think Parkesburg could have better housing prices if the school taxes were reduced, but that is out of the boroughs control. I would suggest getting more people involved at the school board meetings to reduce the taxes. It seems we have a poor education rate with high taxes, so in my opinion I’m not getting my dollars worth for the taxes I pay.

What should Parkesburg do to continue attracting young families?
Parkesburg is a pretty quiet town, and already attracts some the finest families from the area. If a family is thinking of moving to Parkesburg I would suggest visiting the Seawells Market to get a feel for the town. Great food and lots of hospitality can go a long way!

Name a recent borough decision you agree with, and one you would have done differently?
I haven’t agreed with many decisions made by the borough lately, but I think my main goal would be to get one bridge, by the new Point building, back up so we can unite the town again. It would make it easier for the firetrucks to get down than faster too!

How would you characterize your political ideology?
I love the Constitution, that should speak for itself, right?

Please name up to three (and at least one) of your political role models? Please feel free to explain your choices.
My political role model is Beverly Ely because she always fights for what she believes is right no matter what anyone thinks.

Are you in favor of term limits? If so, how many terms?
I think Parkesburg’s Mayor should only be 2 terms, but then again it may take that longer to get the council to work with you, if you are lucky.

What is your top priority if elected?
My top priority is to put some life back into the town that every tax payer has been investing in. I would push the council to build us a bridge to somewhere, instead having a bridge to nowhere, and find a solution to help balance the budget. I want to see the town grow, but I can’t do it without the help of the tax payers. Come to the meetings and speak up on matters that concern you, your family, and your friends. People who don’t speak up now will wish they had later on down the road.

What is your position on residency, i.e. requiring people hired by the municipal government to live in the Borough of Parkesburg?
If you are paid a salary to work for the borough I think you should also live in the borough.

What is your position on the current municipal property tax rate?
I think if the budget was actually balanced we wouldn’t see any more increases, but that is just my opinion. The police budget is a little higher than most would expect for a town that is under two square miles, and that is a huge number in our budget each year.

What should the be done to attract businesses into the borough?
Some new businesses are coming to the town, but motivating the borough manager is where to start. I think having a well educated borough manager is probably a good solution to get businesses into the town. Perhaps we have a bachelors degree mandatory put on the job description for the next manager.

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84 responses to “Parkesburg Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire – Joseph Rzonca, Republican

  1. Isn’t there an ordinance against taking borough owned vehicles home for joy riding, and lets not forget about the accident the chief was in years ago with his family in that police vehicle with him…

    • Just go to the source with your questions and concerns Joey. The Chief is on call 24/7. This means he is and does get called into active duty at anytime, whether going to the store or wherever. By having the vehicle with him his response time in an emergency is greatly enhanced and this is one of the most critical aspects of police action, response time. He can go into action without having to come to the station, transfer to the cruiser and then go out. This can save valuable time. He can go directly to the scene from wherever he might be at the time. Again, I’m not defending the practice, but I do understand what I believe is the rationale behind it. As a child growing up in town I seem to remember Chief Shipman driving the police car (the only one at the time) everywhere. Granted, he lived on Main Street so it wasn’t a long commute for him, but the principal is the same I believe. If I’m correct in my recollections, that would make it a standard of practice for over 50 years. I know, times change and sometimes practices must change as well, but this is why I suggest taking it to the proper people to have it addressed.

      • i hate to jump in here, and don’t know if he does or doesn’t, but this Parkesburg not Philadelphia. How many “emergencies” does the borough have that would justify the Chief having a municipal vehicle for personal use? That is a big perk!

  2. And I guess that’s why they leave the cars running while they are in Pizza Villa so they can respond quicker to the major crime wave in the Burg! It’s a perk and I’m paying for it.

    • I have photos of one officer who frequents that place along with the CVS, and I am not paying for police officers to shop at the store while on duty. I will not mention the name of the officer but rest assure I informed the Mayor and nothing was done about it.

  3. So if the Chief has his family in the car with him do they go to the scene with him? I have heard this argument before, and no the chief doesn’t need a take home vehicle since he doesn’t reside in the borough as he should in my opinion, but the police on duty in town would respond first before the chief is notified anyway. So my question still stands is there an ordinance against it or not? I would love to ask the chief these questions David, but after seeing the rudeness of his officers at the last council meeting towards Carol Seawell I would say the actions of his officers defines the chief and I’m not wasting my time arguing with him. Just an FYI the police respond to incidents, and rarely fly in with a cape on and stop a crime.

    The Mayor was asked these questions, and didn’t want to answer them even though he is the executive officer over the police department. These actions will not be tolerated by the tax payers, Taking this information to the proper people would be the borough council members like Kathy Rick who’s son is in a relationship with the chiefs niece, oh yeah she will help me right, and the Chief is the one who the complaints are about, so why ask him. I sent a mass email to all the borough council members for answers and the response was go to a meeting and ask on record. Why not just tell me through an email? It is on record too right?

    I went to the borough this morning to drop off one sheet of paper and Wendy tried to jump out of her seat at me because she didn’t want to hear it. She actually yelled at me so loud i couldn’t understand what she was saying to me, so I walked out the door. That behavior will not be tolerated on any level and I think an internal investigation would be the best answer for the borough before passing a new budget.

    • If you go on the page for the Parkesburg Borough about midway down you can print off a copy of the intended budget for 2014. I did so I could check it out. No big deal. But I had asked Mel where the reserve fund for the West Bridge Street Bridge was and she said in a reserve and I got a copy of the bank statement. It’s at home but it’s a little over $134,000.00. That was as of last August. I can’t find this figure on the proposed budget for 2014 (I could be missing it) but if I’m not I’d like to know where that money went as well.

      • Email an open records request to the borough council and Mayor, then drop off a copy of it to Wendy at the borough office.

      • I think they only put the general fund items in the budget, maybe I’m wrong, but if so that’s why you wouldn’t see it. How’s the budget look to you?

        • Jim hasn’t taken a look yet but where it says West Bridge Street Bridge there are zeros. I have the bank statement she sent me. I didn’t look in depth yet I was scanning for that particular figure. I’ll let you know.

          • If the money was collected from taxes it should be under a fund item somewhere i would think, and if not the budget is missing funds. Perhaps an audit would be an idea to find the missing money.

          • I don’t know if it’s missing yet. I have to look and see where else it may be on the budget. No problem yet.

          • The law requires an independent audit every year. Go to the meeting on the 16th and ask your questions, I don’t think there’s anything missing, its just not in the general fund and there’s nothing unusual or inappropriate about that.

          • Every budget, private and public has many “buckets” so to speak. Businesses and municipalities keep different accounts for different purposes and often differentiate them so monies designated for specific purposes don’t get mixed in with and/or spent for purposes they were not intended for. There is nothing unusual about creating a separate account for the bridge fund. To transfer funds from a reserve account of this nature to another designation would require a public discourse and vote of the majority of council. As I said earlier, this is the proposed budget for “general” funds. It isn’t intended to designate or speak to other accounts, it is intended to show where the money is coming to the borough from (taxes and other sources) and where that money (general funds) are going to be spent.
            As I look at it, there appears to be $20,000 in expenses for the bridge fund. Just reading that I would take that to mean the council intends to add that amount to the reserve fund already in place.
            I like the way they broke out a comparison on expenses for 2014 and compare them to 2013. Here, we can see they are budgeting a very modest increase in police salaries of $1,810. I don’t know how they’re making that happen, but it could be an encouraging sign. At the same time they are increasing streets salaries by $6,400. There is also only a $23,930 increase in anticipated revenue. All-in-all it looks like a pretty tight budget, not based on any tax increase, but that’s just my first take and I haven’t talked to anyone about my reading.

        • Jim was checking it out. He said the bank accounts would be on the P&L budget. I was just curious about where that reserve fund because I took that to mean it’d reserved and would stay there. And last year when I had asked for the police contracts Wendy gave me all but Chief Sheller’s. He said that the Chief’s should be public record too. I don’t want to fight with them but i won’t stand for Moran yelling at me like he did Carol. That’s just wrong. It’s like he’s the hired muscle for the meeting. I want to ask Chief Sheller a few questions too. So hopefully he won’t duck out as soon as he gives his report. I hope Carol comes again too. I want to back her up on police presence on First Ave. Haven’t had a chance to talk to her yet with alot of things going on. But hope to talk to her soon. Thanks Dave.

          • I certainly hope the officer you mentioned was reprimanded for his actions by the Mayor, and if not I think the police department should be investigated by internal affairs. Kathy Rick has a family connection with the police department, which is makes me suspicious of the do whatever they want activities shared within the police department. The ethics commission would have a field day in Parkesburg if they knew what was going on at the borough level in my opinion.

          • Joey, anyone can make a complaint to the ethics committee if they so choose, but they don’t go out to the small towns looking for issues. As far as Internal Affairs, that is usually reserved for larger city departments because as the name indicates, it is a department “within” the police that usually reports directly to a source (like the Mayor) outside of the police department. You really won’t find out whether an officer is reprimanded or not. Back in 2004 I was stopped and intimidated by an officer and I filed an official complaint. When I went to borough council, then President Norman said they don’t discuss personnel matters and I was told off the record, that all I could be told was that the “appropriate” actions were taken. I would have preferred to know details, but I accepted that response and moved on. As far as Kathy’s family connection, I wouldn’t make too much of that. These types of relationships don’t “in and of themselves” constitute any conflict.
            I think it is also important to give recognition when it is appropriate. I think this particular budget looks pretty good. I don’t know the devil in the details, but on the face it looks pretty good.
            It is well documented that even a minor police presence can deter crime, so just having an officer walk the beat downtown through the businesses, even if it is once a month, would go a long way to easing peoples issues and reducing tempers. It’s a truly easy issue to deflate.

  4. Kathy Rick’s son Paul was appointed to the civil service position which from my understanding could give the ok on hiring more civil service jobs (the police department) and that is a conflict of interest because he is in a relationship with the chiefs niece. There is too much of this good ole boy politics in town and we need to get rid of everyone and start fresh as a tax payer had mentioned to me 5 years ago. Many residents including myself have witnessed unprofessional behavior within the police department on several occasions, and it is getting worse. I personally would feel more comfortable calling the state police for help instead of the Parkesburg police.

    • I know how you feel Joey, but in my view each and every one of us can only control our own behavior and that we are absolutely responsible for. To the extent that we make that sincere effort and treat others as we would hope to be treated, this is the only thing we can control. I know I haven’t always stayed that course, but I believe that whenever I have been able to I have gotten much better responses and results, even in difficult relationships.
      As far as Kathy’s son, although he is on the commission that doesn’t in and of itself make it a conflict to date the niece of the Chief. He is only one of three votes and if there was a decision that he had to make that presented an actual conflict he can and should recuse himself at that time. It’s always good to keep in mind that the council has the authority on hiring and firing, not the commission. The Commission is an advisory function not an action group. I know from my time on council it is very difficult to get people to serve on the commission. Civil service regulations dictate all of the commissions actions and they are very comprehensive and fair. The State Police will not respond within the borough unless they are called in to back up the local force. Police territory and responsibilities are very well defined and monitored.
      I think you make good points at times Joey, but you sometimes do yourself a disservice by making what are perceived as wild, generalized statements that are often unsubstantiated. Getting rid of everyone is such a statement. It’s hard to accept that sometimes not everyone agrees with all of our own thoughts and ideas. There may be a fair number of people who want to see drastic change, but there are also just as many, if not more, that don’t want to see such drastic measures. The majority are probably much more comfortable seeing slow and incremental changes that add a certain sense of stability as change occurs. You can become a leader in the community if you start to try to understand the perspective of others and give that some credence. Public employees and officials are human beings and it is unrealistic to expect them to put aside the same human thoughts and emotions we all have in common. If you constantly make allegations about people it is likely that baggage goes with you into every interaction you subsequently have with those people, so your interactions are “almost” doomed before they start. The least little phrase or smirk can then cause an avalanche that is hard to recover from. If you want these folks downtown to treat you with respect (granted they always should) give them an example of how you want them to behave. In the end, even if they don’t respond in kind, you can hold your head high.