Meet the Candidate: Kirk McCaslin
Millcreek Township Supervisor
I am 57 years old and a lifelong resident of Millcreek Township. I am a 1981 graduate of McDowell High School. I am married and the father of four adult children and one grandchild. I have served the Millcreek community through the West Lake Fire Department for thirty-nine years. Of those thirty-nine years, I served as a Chief Officer for nine years and as Chief of the Department for fifteen years. I have been employed by Millcreek Township for thirty-seven years. I was an emergency dispatcher for twenty-two years and have been a streets department laborer for the past fifteen years. I have many hours of continued education through the fire department and work. Some of the courses attended have been Incident Command, Rescue, and Leadership as well as passing the Bituminous Field Technician course (paving) provided by Penn State University.
Why are you running for Millcreek Township Supervisor?
I decided to run for city council to bring new people into local politics that feel they don't have a voice. I decided to run for city council a second time because my community is responding to the issues and topics I bring to the table for the multiracial working poor community in Erie.
What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?
There are a number of infrastructure issues that have been ignored or have been put on the back burner for far too long:
Number one - the more than two hundred (200) miles of Township maintained roads are in need of some sort of maintenance. I have talked to residents who have said that their road hasn't been paved in over twenty (20) years...they aren't wrong. According to Township officials, there is no record of forty percent (40%) of roads being paved in the last twenty (20) years. This is unacceptable. The annual budget for paving can and should be doubled without a tax increase. The Township is relying on federal monies to fund the bulk of paving. There are additional resources for funding and to, once again, utilize the Township-owned asphalt plant to supplement annual paving programs.
Number two - flooding as a result of stormwater run-off. This has been talked about for far too long. Action needs to happen. Millcreek has lost numerous businesses and residents relocating because of inactivity. Stop talking and move forward with the projects. Seek alternative funding through the County, State, and Federal agencies.
Number three - to ensure ALL of our first responders have the resources, staffing, and support that they need to do their jobs safely.
How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?
I believe education is important, but not all students are in need of a four (4) year degree. With the right mixture of higher education, as well as apprenticeship opportunities, students will have the knowledge to enter into the workforce. This effort will be fruitless, however, without good-paying jobs right here. I plan to work on workforce development and business recruitment. In addition, in light of the County's failed attempt at a Community College a few decades back, I am making a promise to the people of Millcreek - not a single taxpayer dollar will go to funding the Erie Community College. I believe that it should be run like a business - they must be resourceful to gain new students, to help support the brick and mortar they are creating - taxpayers should not be required to be the lifeline of this organization.
How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system?
As a first responder, I have seen firsthand the seriousness of the pandemic. We have found out that there is never enough knowledge and information. The PPE used in the field was sufficient for our use. Should the situation in Erie County been much worse, different plans would have been needed. I don't believe that our local emergency departments are overtaxed. I believe our ICUs were not at capacity and that there were sufficient ventilators. I would advocate the County government to stockpile additional PPE for emergency responders and look into portable structures (tents) in case of hospital capacity. I would be an advocate as far up the ladder as needed but I believe it starts locally.
According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?
I believe the role of government is to be supportive, not to finance small businesses. By creating an environment that allows small businesses to thrive, by being fiscally responsible with tax dollars are not over-taxing and under-performing. Businesses need roads for consumers to get to them. As mentioned previously, we need to focus on the roads and the flooding issues to help small businesses thrive. We need to lessen the barriers to entry for our entrepreneurs, not create new ones.
Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds. As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?
This appears to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take care of many problems. First and foremost for our community is infrastructure. Ensuring transportation throughout the community is vital. Roadways in disrepair, stormwater flooding, aging sewer and water systems to name a few. A safe community is just as if not more important. Ensuring that all areas of public safety (police, fire, medical, emergency management) are properly funded and staffed accordingly to meet the community's needs.
Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization. Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?
As much as Millcreek has "grown out", long-term investment in economic development is always on the table. I would promote working with developers and contractors in whatever fashion needed were fiscally responsible. Currently, there is a plan in place to upgrade the West 8th Street corridor from Pittsburgh Avenue to Peninsula Drive and north on Peninsula Drive to the entrance of Presque Isle State Park. Continuing with that project will enhance the entire area. If the chance for an Opportunity Zone or TIF project were to become available in Millcreek it would be something to seriously look into.