In high school, Bob Campagna was selected by his classmates in what was then Export High School as most likely become borough mayor. They were right. And if Mr. Campagna's bucket list of goals comes true, he'll get the title again.
Mr. Campagna has served as mayor twice and in the May 16 primary election, voters gave the 74-year-old another chance to lead the town where he has lived his entire life.
Mr. Campagna, retired from a construction equipment firm and a private pilot, was first elected mayor of the former mining town from 1984 to 1988. In 2002, he was elected to finish the four-year term of Mayor Paul Teacher. Mr. Campagna ran again in 2006 and won. But in 2010, he was defeated in the primary by current mayor, Mike Calder.
In this year's May primary, Mr. Campagna won the Democratic nod from Mr. Calder by just 5 votes. Still, the two could face off in November in the general election. The Westmoreland County Elections Bureau said that Mr. Calder received 18 Republican write-ins and is eligible to run on that ticket.
Mr. Campagna also served as a councilman for two years, from 1982 to 1984.
He said that he, like many of his hometown's 900 residents, is concerned about police protection. Currently, the streets of Export's 0.4 square miles are patrolled by state police.
"They are an excellent police force and I would always want to retain their service. But it would be a great help to them and the community to have additional part-time police protection to assist," Mr. Campagna said.
He noted that during his last term in office, council voted against his suggestion that the borough hire a retired part-time officer from another community to beef up protection.
"Eventually, all municipalities that have state police coverage are going to be charged a fee, but if we would hire a part-time policeman, we would escape those charges so it would be cheaper to hire a part-timer," Mr. Campagna said.
He said residents he talked to on the campaign trail said they wanted to be further informed about public bidding for municipal contracts and where money borrowed from the Hall Trust is spent.
Established by the late J.M. Hall of Export, the $2.7 million Hall Trust was left to the borough after his death in 2006. The interest generated from the principal is designated to be used for the beautification of Export. But Mr. Campagna said money from the trust has occasionally been used to keep the borough's budget afloat.
"If there is a request for additional money needed for the budget, it's the mayor's responsibility to inform council and for council to make a motion to request money needed and what it is to be used for," he said. He added that he doesn't think council should borrow money from the trust to balance the budget.
During his years in office, Mr. Campagna said he was instrumental in many improvements to Export's tiny downtown, including flood control of Turtle Creek, a multi-phased project he said began in the late 1990s. Work with the Department of Environmental Protection, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Turtle Creek Watershed Association resulted in the finalization of a box concrete underground channel that was completed in 2012.
He also oversaw the replacement of two bridges along Kennedy Avenue and new sidewalks on Washington Avenue. Through fundraising efforts of the community's crime watch organization, he supported the placement of three surveillance cameras in the downtown area.
In 2006, Mr. Campagna implemented conceptual site plans for a large planter at the intersection of Lincoln and Kennedy avenues and two smaller planters along Kennedy Avenue. The Westmoreland County Redevelopment Authority approved the plans and matched the borough's cost of $20,000 to construct the planters.
Mr. Campagna also said he would "like to continue this beautification and be proactive in supporting businesses to attract more people downtown."
Mr. Campagna has been active in the Export American Legion since 2006 and has served as a commander for the last three years. He served in the U.S. Army from 1958 to 1961.
Laurie Bailey, freelance writer: email@example.com.