Indiana, PA - Indiana County

CANDIDATE: Donald Lancaster

on October 29, 2013 10:00 AM

Since he won a Democratic nomination in the spring, Donald Lancaster has been learning more about stormwater management practices, partly by participating in an education project by the League of Women Voters and by visiting the Westmoreland Conservation District headquarters to view examples of controls that retain stormwater and allow it to soak gradually into the soil.

His own home, along Willow Avenue, is only about 30 feet from Marsh Run, and during his door-to-door campaigning in the spring he met residents — some whose homes are blocks from the nearest stream — who get flooded basements following heavy rain.

He doesn’t want to see the banks of streams in the borough cemented because they are green spaces that support a variety of wildlife. But organizing groups of volunteers to walk along the streams once or twice a year to remove large items that restrict the water flow and contribute to flooding is doable, he said.

In addition to flood remediation, Lancaster would also like to see Indiana council encourage White Township officials to participate in the same types of discussion forums recently held between Indiana Borough and Indiana University of Pennsylvania representatives.

The borough, he said, is “an island” in White Township. “We need to have a better relationship” with township officials. “We need to work together more.”

Lancaster also said he wants to work to make Indiana more bicycle-friendly and to promote the borough more as a destination for day trips to bring in more revenue from outside the area.

He also said the ongoing debate over a long-term lease for the Indiana Free Library in the borough-owned Community Center Building “needs to be finalized.”

“I like the central location” for the library where it is, he said.

Lancaster grew up in Westmoreland County and earned a bachelor’s degree in speech communications from Penn State University and a master’s degree in special education from Duquesne University. He moved to Indiana in 2003 after teaching 32 years in Pittsburgh public schools. He and his wife, an IUP professor, plan to make Indiana their retirement home.

“I think we have a lot to offer in this community,” he said. “This is the idyllic community for raising a family. … Growing up in the ’50s, you saw them in sitcoms. But it still exists here. … There are more pluses than negatives. It’s a great place to live, but I’d like to make it better.”

Lancaster said he and fellow Second Ward candidate Gerald Smith are combining some of their campaign efforts.

“It made a difference” in the spring campaign, Lancaster said, when he and Smith walked through the Second Ward talking to constituents. It gave residents an opportunity to “kvetch” a little about what they felt were important issues in the borough, he said. And on Election Day some residents told him they hadn’t planned on voting but came out to the polls after Lancaster and Smith made the effort to meet them.

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