Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March 2017 Behind the Bubble UPDATED

She’s Running!: Charlotte Stephenson on Women in Government, Fiscal Responsibility, and Elections That Matter
by Jason Margolis

For Charlotte Stephenson, this is the right time to run for Mt. Lebanon Commissioner of Ward 2.

It’s right for her personally, as she is at “a time in my life where I have the time to dedicate to doing the homework necessary to do good work for the community. I would enjoy doing that.”

Charlotte Stephenson announces candidacy for Ward 2 Commissioner

It’s also right for her politically, as she believes the world needs more women in government, that the MTL Commission has “not been responsive to the people” who are paying for what they vote on, and no other viable Republicans candidates are running.

Fresh off attending a “Ready to Run” conference at Chatham University designed to encourage the female “51% minority” to have more formal input in the political system, Stephenson has been out canvassing for signatures around Mt. Lebanon. She is working to join the currently only female Commissioner, Kelly Fraasch of Ward 5, on a Commission that some have called an ‘old boys club.’

Speaking to the way Fraasch has reportedly been treated in decidedly gendered ways on the Commission, Stephenson said, “I have noticed that, and it needs to be changed. Kelly and I see eye-to-eye on many things. I have always wanted to work with Kelly, and I think we would work well together. She is level-headed, makes good decisions, and does her homework. I wouldn’t just vote same as Kelly [because we are both women], it would be based on what is right. But a lot of times she is right.”

However, gender issues are far from the only thing motivating Stephenson to run for Ward 2 Commissioner. Speaking on some of the more controversial issues in the community, Stephenson called the municipality’s approach to deer management a “staggering fail.” She added that “it has not been a successful program. Whether you are for or against it, it isn’t working. Deer-car collisions went up 67%.” While acknowledging that “We probably need deer management of some kind,” Stephenson emphasized that it should be non-violent and “well-thought-out … We need a middle ground.”

Describing herself as “fiscally conservative,” Stephenson commented on the general financial state of the municipality: “We need to hold the line on taxes. I don’t want to see any increases.” She also said that there are likely savings to be made in collaboration with the school district, referencing the new multi-purpose rifle range as an example. Stephenson also promised as Commissioner to “keep her eye on the ball” for ways various collaborations could reduce the tax burden in what she sees as a high-taxed community.

Stephenson also expressed concerns about the way the current Mt. Lebanon governmental structure works more to serve special interests and neglects the recommendations of its own boards. As an illustration, she spoke about the recent recommendations of the Environmental Sustainability Board regarding the artificial turf project being ignored by the Commission. Instead, Stephenson believes that the “Sports Lobby” overpowered the Commission with their “clout.” She added, “Sports are important, but there are a lot of other things that are important too. This special interest group has driven a lot of things, especially with the turf.”

Stephenson commented that she believes when people volunteer their time on a board, the Commission has an obligation to heavily consider their recommendation – not personal agendas. Otherwise, “It discourages involvement,” and she warned, “I don’t think we are using people as a resource.”

As she has been walking around Mt. Lebanon, where she has lived for the past 32 years, obtaining signatures has also been an opportunity to hear what is of concern to the residents. Stephenson says the top issues she hears the most about are Pay As You Throw (PAYT), concerns about the serious drug issues in the community, the need for a dog park, and fears connected to the municipality’s spot tax assessment program. People are also concerned about the physical conditions of many of Mt. Lebanon’s structures, as is Stephenson, who added that “We own properties that we are not maintaining. We should be reluctant to take on more things until we take care of what we have … I am a big stickler for taking care of what we have first.”

Stephenson said that not only is she “ready to serve, and ready to work hard” but that this is something she has been working towards her entire adult life. Indeed, her community service resume in Mt. Lebanon includes active involvement with the MTL Veterans Committee, the MTL Drug Task Force, the Denis Theater Foundation, the MTL Foundation for Educational Involvement, and being past-president of the MTL Extended Day program. She also has been involved at the Allegheny County level, including initiating a “Visit a Vet” program to support veterans who are on their own.

Ultimately, Stephenson said she is running for Ward 2 Commissioner because “elections matter.” If you want to reach out to candidate Charlotte Stephenson, she said she is eager to hear what is on your mind. Stephenson can be reached at:

Update May 6, 2017 11:30 AM Charlotte's campaign website is


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a welcome change from Silent Steve Silverman. Steve, if you're out there, how are Gatorade sales at the Dollar General???

- Zeke the Plumber

Anonymous said...

"[A] Commission that some have called an ‘old boys club.’"

Who called it that? How many is "some?" Or is the author "some?" This is the first year in a long time that we've not had 40% women comprising the commission.

Jason Margolis said...

Dear 8:51am, one does need a degree in feminist critical theory to observe and note the ugly gender dynamics on the MTL Commission and the MTL Government writ large ... and, as Ward 2 Candidate Stephenson noted, in society and politics more broadly.

It is also important to note that an organization can be made up of 95% women and still have a decidedly paternalistic power structure. Sometimes, even women acquiesce to it, if fearful or socialized as such.

- Jason

Richard Gideon said...

"Elections matter," but election PARTICIPATION matters more, and is more likely to affect outcomes when it is applied to local races. Unfortunately, more people vote in "glamor" races - the biggest being a presidential election - where the likelihood of an individual's vote changing the results of an election is zero than vote in a local race. The irony is that the local contests usually have a more direct and immediate impact on a voter's wallet than do national elections.

In Ward 2 voter participation in "off-year" elections is pretty dismal - just like the rest of the Wards in Mt. Lebanon. In 2009 there were 5,458 registered voters in Ward 2 out of which 1,891 voted in the general election. In the commissioner's race, Democrat John Daley received 883 votes, and Republican Matt Kluck won with 961 - a difference of 47 votes. But 3,567 registered votes stayed home. In 2013 Ward 2 had 5,442 registered voters out of which 1,863 voted in the general election. In the commissioner's race Republican Jack Doyle received 805 votes, while Democrat Steve Silverman won with 1,014 - a difference of 209 votes. But 3,579 registered votes sat on their hands. (I should also point out that of those who did vote in Ward 2, not all voted for either candidate.) But last year, in the presidential election, Ward 2 could boast 5,581 registered voters, of which 4,371 voted - even though their votes for president were statistically insignificant - thus proving that it is the PERCEPTION of the race that brings out the usual sclerotic voter.

Given the current Democratic edge in registered voters in Ward 2 Ms. Stephenson will have to do two things: 1)appeal to the "usual suspects" across party lines, and 2)convince the no-shows that they have a direct economic interest in the outcome of this election.

E. T. Gillen said...

Richard, are those numbers based on the General Election or the Primary? There is another piece to this, RG. There may be more competition for Steve in the Primary. Hopefully, that will be in a separate post. This post is about Ward 2's Republican ballot.

Richard Gideon said...

Those are general election numbers.

Richard Gideon said...

In the 2013 Republican primary there were 2,070 registered voters in Ward 2, out of which 554 voted. That's a 27% turnout.

Anonymous said...

"[O]ne does need a degree in feminist critical theory to observe and note the ugly gender dynamics on the MTL Commission and the MTL Government writ large"

Amen, brother. I think there's a related explanation why Kristen Linfante, Susan Morgans, and maybe Elaine Cappucci are despised around these parts.

Jason Margolis said...

Oops, that was supposed to say one does NOT need a degree, but everyone got the point. That's when I get for blogging from airports...

Anonymous said...

"Lebo commissioners hoping for resident feedback on trash collections"

The above headline appeared in The Almanac a few weeks back, but what is the PAYT committee discussing... how to "educate" residents.

"The committee, headlined by assistant manager Ian McMeans, presented the commission with a step-by-step outline at the Jan. 23 discussion session on how to educate residents."

What do they think we are children that aren't already familiar with trash or incapable of getting the facts ourselves. If they want to hear from residents why are they plotting and allocating $20,000 to educate us?

"The group also includes Rudy Sukal, public works director, Andrew Baram, chairman of the Mt. Lebanon Environmental Sustainability Board, Susan Morgans, public information officer, finance director Andrew McCreery and Bill Matthews, who served on a similar 2014 ad hoc committee about the “Pay As You Throw” program."

"About $20,000 was rolled over into this year after being unused in the allocated budget for 2016 to help fund the education process."

Then there is this from Commissioner Silverman: “We need a lot of public education,” Commissioner Steve Silverman said. “This is an issue that affects almost every one of our residents.”

Sorry Commissioner, we are not stupid! You listen, let us educate you and convey our wishes. That's how government is suppose to work.

This blog reader is convinced Candidate Stephenson understand that concept.

Anonymous said...

"About $20,000 was rolled over into this year after being unused in the allocated budget for 2016 to help fund the education process."

“We need a lot of public education,” Commissioner Steve Silverman said. “This is an issue that affects almost every one of our residents.”

That makes me feel good, Mr. Silverman!

You educated us and Scott Township on deer control and your power to do exactly what you want and what did it achieve? Lighter wallets and more deer accidents.

It's time for a change on Washington Road.

Anonymous said...

Charlotte Stephenson will make a superb commissioner.