Mayors Teach Seminar on How to Best Run a Community

Article excerpt

Jack Kobistek ran for mayor of Carnegie because he felt he could help his borough become a better place for residents, employees and visitors.

"I threw my hat into the ring because I think my town has strong, untapped potential," said Kobistek, a resident of Carnegie for 17 years and a former member of its planning commission. "I ran as an independent, and I didn't have anyone to rely on, and I didn't have any background in politics."

When he took office in January, he was left to figure out what his duties were.

"When I took office, I had to declare two states of emergency due to the snowstorms we had in February and the flooding that occurred from that."

He leaned heavily on the support of Whitehall Mayor James F. Nowalk.

"Whenever I needed him, he called me back immediately. I didn't have anyone else who had in-depth knowledge of being a mayor," Kobistek recalls.

That is one reason Nowalk -- along with Carroll Valley Mayor Ron Harris -- created the seminar, "I have been elected Mayor, now what?"

"We created the program because when you are elected mayor, you get a certificate, but no manual on how to govern the office," said Nowalk, a 16-year member of the executive board of the Pennsylvania Mayors Association. He has served as Whitehall's mayor for 17 years.

The program was designed for borough and city mayors with an accompanying resource book geared to the type of municipality they represent.

The seminar was started in July. Of the mayors elected in the 2009 municipal races, 40 percent were first timers, according to Nowalk.

"That seminar was very welcome," said Kobistek, who took the class last month. …