Residents of the Slippery Rock borough will soon have to decide who their mayor will be, along with who will fill the three vacant city council seats, when members of the borough go to the polls on May 16.
Incumbent for mayor Ronald Fodor, who ran unopposed four years ago, will be trying defend his office against challenger Jondavid R. Longo this coming election.
Longo, a 27-year-old who runs on the motto “Service over self,” served his country as an Infantry Rifleman with the United States Marines in Afghanistan, is now turning to politics after he finished his bachelor of science in history degree from SRU, and is now a candidate for his masters in secondary education social studies at SRU now.
“A lot of veterans leaving the military, including myself have this void to fill,” Longo said. “The question then becomes how do you continue service, outside of the service.”
Denton Zeronas and brothers Alex and Kostas Petridis are the three city council candidates who are in support of Longo. Longo mentioned that if he were to be elected mayor, he would need some city council members on his side, because he alone wouldn’t be able get things done, but Longo said he is obviously willing to work with everyone on the council and in the community.
“It’s my hope that no matter what that I can work with anybody,” Longo said. “I wanna have friends or be friends with everybody, and by no means am I resigned to only cooperating with certain people; success across the board is dependent on our willingness on every side to collaborate.”
Along with Longo, the group all work at the North Country Brewing Company together, with Longo working as the company’s social media and PR coordinator. In January, the opportunity to run for mayor became clear to him, but he would need help from city council members to be on his side.
“Who are some folks I can trust, be good for the job, and be able to fill those shoes of the council seats that are also up for election,” Longo said when describing who he wanted to fill the vacant city council seats.
Zeronas, a 21-year-old SRU secondary education social studies major, with a minor in political science, who is a cook at the North Country Brewery, is running for city council with Longo’s support.
“One person is not going to be able to change something, especially at a local level,” Zeronas said. “It would be nice to get an actual group together that’s going to be able to focus on what Slippery Rock’s best interests are.”
The Petridis brothers have called Slippery Rock home for many years because they grew up here, Longo said.
“They grew up here, this is their home,” Longo said. “They’ve watched this place change, and some ways for the better, but in a lot of ways for the worse as well.”
Alex Petridis started, founded, and still operates The Awesome Spirit of Wildlife, which is a non-profit organization in wildlife preservation, particularly with amphibians and reptiles, Longo said.
Longo believes in a place like Slippery Rock Borough, the mayor should be a leader and an advocate for the police department.
“I would like to provide an environment where our chief of police is able to exercise his right as a leader,” Longo said. “So he can implement the plans that he thinks are necessary for his police force because I’m a firm believer in a chain in command.”
The raising of property taxes is another thing Longo wishes to tackle if he were to get into office, and he understands that like everyone else in the community being a property owner in the borough himself.
Longo explained that high property taxes doesn’t just effect the property owner, but the business owners on main street. When a property owner leases out a building to a business owner in the borough, the tenant is going to have to pay more for rent because the property owners are raising the price because the property owner is paying higher property taxes.
“Anybody who is trying to come into Slippery Rock would already know how hard it is to open and maintain a business here,” Longo said.
Longo is also part of Rotary International, which is an organization whose purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders together in order to provide humanitarian services and peace around the world.
“I’ve been saying from day one that this is not a partisan issue for me,” Longo said. “This is not a republican or a democratic issue, this is a Slippery Rock issue that I’m concerned with.”
The Rocket called Ronald Fodor repeatedly but received no response.
(Disclaimer: changed direct quote from “change in command” to “Chain in command” and changed college degree status)