Brett Johns moved with his wife and four children to Indiana about seven years ago and became a candidate for Indiana council in the spring to give something back to his adopted hometown.
He won a Republican nomination in May for a two-year term as a Second Ward representative.
Johns, who lives along South Sixth Street, teaches composition and research writing at Westmoreland County Community College.
He graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a degree in English, and taught there before coming to Indiana.
He had never been involved in theater, but when he arrived in Indiana he became active with the Indiana Players and has worked in several capacities with the community theater group. He also began writing plays, and several have been performed by the Indiana Players.
Some of the plays he’s written — notably “Moon Over Indiana County,” “The Philadelphia Street Story” and “House on Sixth Street” — are Indiana-based and have references to local settings.
Johns now serves on the board of directors of the Indiana Players.
“Mainly, I really love the community,” he said in explaining why he’s a candidate for council. “We feel blessed being here. It’s an opportunity to give back. It’s my chance to give back to the community that’s given so much to me.”
Johns said he has some concerns about changes he has seen in the past few years in the borough’s residential neighborhoods.
“IUP is integral to our community,” he said, but added that he believes better planning is needed in how off-campus housing, especially, is integrated into the borough.
“I’ve seen some family homes razed for parking lots … and quiet, family blocks turned into a college block,” he said.
Many constituents he’s met while campaigning door-to-door say zoning regulations are one of their main concerns.
Johns said he feels his background in research and in teaching students to develop critical thinking skills will be most helpful to him as a council member.
“I can look at issues from many sides to see where merits lie, to make sure details are not being overlooked,” he said. “I’m open to hear what every side has to say.”
Johns and his wife, Angela, an elementary teacher in the Indiana Area School District, have four children ages 6 to 16.