AP NEWS

Belusko, Thomas Seek W-B City Council Seats

January 30, 2019

WILKES-BARRE — Two more candidates have entered the races for city council.

On Tuesday, Mike Belusko announced his intent to seek a second term on city council representing District A, and Tony Thomas announced his candidacy for District E.

Belusko, who last year was elected vice chairman and currently serves as chairman of the five-member panel, represents residents and businesses of South Wilkes-Barre.

The 58-year-old Democrat has been a city resident for 44 years and, in addition to residing in District A, chose to locate his auto-repair business there. He has operated Belusko’s Garage on Old River Road for 37 years, he said.

His decision to run for the legislative post again was based on feedback from his family, friends and constituents.

“My desire to bring positive change has had a beneficial effect — not only in District A, but throughout the city,” he said.

Most notable among his successes was his involvement in funding and launching the Solomon Creek Flood Control Project and the start of retaining wall replacement this past fall. He called it “a cumulation of work with local, county and state officials.”

“Throughout this term, I shared many discussions with the citizens of the City of Wilkes-Barre. Reflecting back on these discussions, I realized my work is not done and that I have a lot more to offer to improve the quality of life within the city,” he said.

Supporting crime reduction efforts is one of Belusko’s main goals. “Statistically, crime is down, but not to where it should be,” he said.

Blight reduction is another top concern. He noted 12 blighted properties were demolished last year, “but more have to come down.”

Belusko would like to work with Luzerne County officials on a Blighted Property Review Committee, but he noted because cities such as Wilkes-Barre have their own redevelopment authorities, they don’t qualify for inclusion in those efforts.

Monitoring spending this year and offering input on future city budgets to prevent tax and fee increases is equally important, he said.

Belusko said he’s grateful for the support of his constituents and looks forward to their continued support in his re-election efforts.

Thomas enters race

This primary election marks Thomas’ second foray into politics. He ran unsuccessfully for Wilkes-Barre Area School Board in 2013. He’s seeking the Democratic nomination in this year’s primary election. He said he’s not related to former city councilman Tony Thomas.

Thomas, 29, grew up in Wilkes-Barre’s North End and has lived there most of his adult life. He works as an account strategist at the marketing company Pepperjam.

And while he loves living and working in the city, Thomas believes change is needed.

“While I have seen the lows we can fall into, I have also seen the greatness our community is able to achieve. I came to the realization that change requires action and we must commit ourselves to making a difference together,” Thomas said.

If elected to council, Thomas said he would provide more funding to improve infrastructure in Wilkes-Barre’s neighborhoods and would focus on “creating more opportunities for college graduates to begin professional careers at home.”

Thomas promised to strive toward “an open and transparent city government that, regardless of special interests, puts the concerns of the people first.”

Thomas said Wilkes-Barre in recent years has been “on a successful path to growth and revitalization,” and he believes that through his campaign, “we can continue to engage the city’s potential to support an innovative community in which people want to begin and continue their careers, raise their families, and where all citizens exercise goodwill to one another.”

“Through my campaign we can work toward a Wilkes-Barre that is welcoming to families, working-class individuals, professionals, and small businesses alike. We can work to build a neighborhood that is safe, inclusive, and prosperous for all citizens,” he said.

Belusko joins incumbent council members Bill Barrett, Tony Brooks and Beth Gilbert in seeking re-election. Thomas wants to fill the seat of Mike Merritt, who said he will not seek another term on council.

Wilkes-Barre council members are paid $13,199 per year, except for the chairperson, who is paid $14,699. All five council seats will be on the ballot this year.

Contact the writer:

smocarsky@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2110, @MocarskyCV