In the Pennsylvania general election last week on Nov. 7, the borough of Slippery Rock officially voted Republican Jondavid Longo to serve the next four years as their mayor, after defeating Ron Fodor in the primary election last spring.
The 27-year-old Longo who ran unopposed in the general election this past week is now officially transitioning into the role of mayor, with his first day coming on.
As of now, Longo is learning the ins and outs of the mayor’s office from current Mayor Fodor, who Longo said has been a great help in this transitional phase. Longo said Fodor also received a majority of the write-in votes that went against him because of the relationships Fodor has built in the borough in years past.
“I understand he has a good base of supporters here and he’s earned it,” Longo said. “Despite that, I’ve been telling folks Mayor Fodor has been very gracious and he’s been kind enough to offer me his time and he said his door is always open.”
Longo believes he has a lot to learn from Mayor Fodor in this transitional phase and says he has been able to learn from the meetings he’s already had with him.
“He’s told me to be patient, to always give an attentive ear to those folks that are coming to me whether it be with general ideas or maybe they have some problems with the way some things are being run with the borough,” Longo said.
One of the first and top concerns for Longo as he first enters office is to work better with the police department and give them more resources for them to do their job. A lack of transparency and fiscal responsibility are some things Longo believes are the toughest problems facing Slippery Rock as he enters his term.
“Now that there are a few fresh new faces on the council that they’re going to be reasonable and they’re going to practice what they preached,” Longo said. “They too have been preaching again transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility so I’m really looking forward to working with those gentlemen and again seeing what we can do and if we can do right by the borough.”
The idea of wasteful spending is something else that Longo stresses a lot which goes with the borough’s decision to purchase the empty bank on Main Street. Longo said the bank was purchased to in order to save the business district as it provides most of the parking for businesses in town and Longo agrees. Ideas of turning the area into a park have been mentioned and Longo said he’s all for beautification, but they need to step back and look at the price tag the project would bring.
“I’m all for beautification, but whenever we are looking at the price tag like the one that we have here where we’re reaching close to a million dollars I think it is very important to take a step back and I think that every penny counts at that point.”
This semester will be Longo’s final an SRU student as he finishes his grad school program in secondary education in social studies. He has a student teaching arrangement at New Castle middle school after moving out of the high school not long ago.
“It has just been a great experience,” Longo said. “I’m you know getting to know the students and I really enjoy being a mentor to them and I love watching them grow.”
Last weekend was also Veterans Day, and with Longo being a veteran himself after serving with the U.S. Marines, he said he got to spend the entire weekend with other veterans that he doesn’t get to see often.
“I’ll typically do that by getting together with some of the marines that I don’t get to see too often throughout the year and we’ll get together for dinner and we’ll share a beverage or two and reminisce about the times we had together and about those guys we served with that we miss.”
By the time his political career is over, Longo said he wants to be remembered for how he listened to others and to be seen as someone people can approach.
“Overall what I’m really concerned with is just making sure folks see me as somebody they can approach and see me as somebody they can depend on,” Longo said. “I’ve said I wanted to be a voice of reason, I always want to come to the table with an objective ear and be able to take in all sides of an issue and overall just do what’s best for the borough.”
Longo mentioned he isn’t looking too far into the future as he doesn’t know yet what the next election cycle with bring for him.
“I’m only concerned with whats ahead of me right now,” Longo said. “I’m really looking forward to just hitting the ground running in January. I’m not going to look too far ahead in the future, I think it would be foolish of me to do that because I think that we have a lot of problems and things that we can tackle right here and right now and I think that’s what’s most important for me.”
For the future of Slippery Rock, Longo feels that the area is becoming more diverse in part to the university and he believes that Slippery Rock is what a small town is supposed to be like.
“Slippery Rock borough itself has this small-town Americana feel and so overall I think or this could be one of the poster children for being a typical American town and that is what I love about Slippery Rock is what I fell in love with whenever I came here six years ago and I’m proud to call it home.”