Kimberly Chiesa has announced her re-election bid for the Third Ward council seat she currently holds in Kittanning Borough.
Chiesa, 56, said she is very pleased with being able to see streets being paved during the last eight years she has served on Council.
“When I started, you couldn’t even drive without hitting potholes on every street. It was a great accomplishment to get the funding to do the street project. I want to see the process continue now with maintaining our streets.”
Chiesa admitted that the Market Street revitalization project was more involved and gave specific challenges to complete.
“It was a real struggle to complete the revitalization project. We had to come up with a much higher amount (of funding) than we anticipated. We were able to manage it financially and keep our budget balanced and not raise taxes, and create a stunning downtown.”
Chiesa has served on council through the transition of former police Chief Ed Cassesse to the current Chief, Bruce Mathews.
“The Chief has been amazing for our community,” she said. “I am pleased that during a time when many smaller boroughs have eliminated their police force, we have been able to continue with a full time department for the safety of our residents.”
Chiesa said the issue of blighted properties has plagued the borough for many years. She was pleased to see the beginning of sweeping changes in that area.
“It’s been an issue, but I think we are approaching it intelligently through changes in our ordinances. We are getting aggressive as we work with the County. We already have torn one building down, and there will be others. Unfortunately it has been cost-prohibitive for the Borough to tear them down in the past; however, now that we have joined the county’s Land Bank, there are more opportunities to re-purpose properties. It took many years for some of these properties to deteriorate and it will take a few years and much work to get them productive again.”
Chiesa said she has been a Third Ward resident since she was in the sixth grade. She served on the Zoning Board before being elected to Council in 2012. When she first was elected to council, Chiesa set out to increase her understanding of borough government. She immediately began taking classes to broaden her knowledge.
“I learned very early on, through courses with Local Government Academy and every class I have taken with the Pennsylvania Association of Boroughs, there are very tough decisions you have to make. There are reasons why a council person should vote a certain way. I vote with my heart, but also being educated in any issue I am voting on. I just don’t vote on issues for today. When I cast a vote, it’s for the future. I’m not looking at just today. I am looking out for your children, and your grandchildren, and their grandchildren. My goal has always been to look to the future and make it better.”
Chiesa, after years of being a Democrat, will run this year as a Republican. She said she has many friends on both sides of the aisle and has a unique vantage point of understanding the concerns of voters, because she understands both ideologies.
“On council, partisan politics does not come into play. And it should be bi-partisan. We are here for one reason – to make this town better. Our decisions should not be politically motivated, but rather always looking for ways of coming together to serve every ward. I don’t believe we have looked at each other on council as being Republican or Democrat. We are here to govern and we listen to our residents in each ward and vote for the good of the town. I’ve never looked at any council member with regards to their political affiliation.”
Chiesa is currently in her 20th year within the sales and marketing department for Fuhrer Wholesale, the 20th largest beverage wholesaler in the United States. She lives on Hawthorne Avenue with her husband, Anthony.