I attended the supervisor interviews last night with approximately 20 other residents. The three candidates, Eamon Brazunas, Mike Heaberg and Kristen Mayock were interviewed for the interim supervisor position. The Personnel Committee, supervisors Bob Lamina, Phil Donahue and Michele Kichline, interviewed the candidates individually. The interviews consisted of 7 questions and candidates were allotted 30 min. for each of their interviews.
The Personnel Committee took turns asking the supervisor candidates the prepared questions. Although I have previously stated that I believed that the interview process should include all six supervisors rather than only three, supervisors Lamina, Donahue and Kichline came prepared last night and are to be congratulated for their efforts. These supervisors were prepared, focused and respectful of all three candidates.
To this post, I am attaching copies of the three candidates resumes. – Eamon Brazunas resume, Mike Heaberg resume and Kristen Mayock resume. Bob Lamina provided me with a copy of the interview questions. Following each interview question, I have provided a brief summary of the candidate’s responses.
Question #1: Tell us a little about yourself.
Each of the candidates responded to this question with biographical information, including professional and personal information. I am not going to address this question, as it is best served by a review of the candidate’s resumes.
Question #2: If not already answered as part of Question #1, can you share with us some of the relevant experiences you have that you believe will help you contribute to the Board of Supervisors, or – How does your professional and/or personal background make you a good candidate to the Board?
Brazunas response: He will bring a different perspective to the Board of Supervisors on how the community works; based on serving as a volunteer firefighter for the Berwyn Fire Company. Fire companies are serious business, not like the old days, and Brazunas spoke of appreciating the recent $15K award to Radnor Fire Company. In his professional work with Radnor Fire Company, he has to make difficult decisions. He has personnel experience and as a firefighter has experience in dealing with volunteers, particularly in disaster relief efforts.
Heaberg response: Heaberg has a desire to give back and serve the community. He remarked that there is a fantastic quality of life in Tredyffrin which includes great schools and libraries, public safety, volunteer organizations and citizens who make volunteer commitments through time and/or money. His three children are grown and out of the house and he has the time to necessary to commit to serving as a supervisor. His professional experience includes working with taxpayers so has empathy for the other side of government. Heaberg understands that the role of government is to be respectful when spending others money. As a small business owner, he works with payroll and budget, health care benefits, leasing space and hiring people – all qualities required as a supervisor. He is good at decision-making and with conflicts of interest; looking at the biases and potential conflicts of interest of those providing information or presenting their opinion as fact. Heaberg commits to the necessary research to better analyze the problem and apply judgment in the decision.
Mayock response: Mayock believes that her experience on the township’s Zoning Hearing Board and her legal experience in zoning would be helpful to the Board of Supervisors. She worked for Thacher Longstreth for 5 years and was involved in constituent services and budget negotiations for 5 Philadelphia budgets. In her role as Deputy Attorney General, Mayock represented Gov. Ridge. She thinks that her background lends itself to government and budget.
Question #3: What do you think the biggest challenge is for Tredyffrin Township as we move in the future?
Brazunas response: Brazunas focused on three issues: (1) taxes – how does the township maintain the successes of the last decade; (2) develop or die – wants to work together with the Planning Commission for the future redevelopment of the community, citing the Valley Fair shopping area and the Walker Road/Richter property as examples; and (3) public safety budget – how to maintain services and keep the budget fair for citizens
Heaberg response: Heaberg believes that the township is good shape financially. He observed that due to the economy, Tredyffrin faces the challenge that it may not be able to expect the same level of support from State and Federal agencies as in the past. According to Heaberg, the township should not expect a windfall coming; there is unlikely to be large real estate transfer revenue and not likely to be a lot of new development. There will be a challenge to expense control, specifically on employee benefits.
Mayock response: Anticipating that she would be applying for the Board of Supervisors, Mayock has asked local citizens about their concerns. People generally seem to be happy and had to be pressed to respond. She reported that transportation and traffic concerns was the issue most named. Other responses from citizens included the desire to enjoy the quality of life but not raise taxes. Mayock thinks that the township needs to encourage new businesses to come to Tredyffrin. She believes that if they work in Tredyffrin, they will purchase homes in Tredyffrin and that will increase transfer tax revenue.
Question #4: What do you believe is your greatest strength and your biggest weakness?
Brazunas response: Brazunas views his strengths as persistent and dedicated;and that he does not give up easily. He feels that his biggest weakness is learning how to take a day off; how to force a breather from work and volunteer life. Brazunas referenced being a new father (of 2 wks) and that he has already found that having a baby changes your life. Being a parent is making it easier for him to take a break and come home to be with the baby.
Heaberg response: Heaberg views his judgment ability as a personal strength and that he does a good job at researching and analyzing issues. He views himself as thoughtful and that he learns from his mistakes. With regards to weakness, Heaberg responded that he is not always patient.
Mayock response: Mayock believes that her negotiation talent is her greatest strength. As an attorney, she explained that negotiating is what she does for a living; taking two people and getting them to work together. Her weakness is that she has a difficult time saying ‘no’ and needs to learn how to turn down volunteer opportunities.
Question #5: Can you share with us a challenging situation you’ve had to overcome, what was the specific example, what outcome, and what did you learn from the experience?
Brazunas response: Brazunas cited a particularly challenging personnel matter where he was forced to facilitate the process, and ultimately let a person go that he knew personally. He was proud that he did not let a personal bias interfere with the decision-making process but handled the situation positively by doing what he believed was right under the circumstances.
Heaberg response: Heaberg answered this question by explaining that the early years of his career was slow. To encourage new business in his line of work of financial advising, requires the individual to be a good salesman. Heaberg reported that he was not as successful as he might have been in the early years because the sales side did not suit him. He had to accept that you cannot get 30 years of experience in 1 year. His challenge was how to feed his family in the early years and the greatest lesson was that there are no shortcuts if you are going to do it right.
Mayock response: Mayock responded to this question by claiming that she has a ‘blessed life’. However, a personal challenge as a teenager was the loss of her best friend. Her best friend was diagnosed with brain cancer at 16 and went on to live a few more years. As a result of her friend’s cancer, Mayock helped found ‘Katies Kids for the Cure’ with her friend’s family which raised money for families living with brain cancer. The organization raised $500K which was given to the Wistar Foundation and is now part of the Alex Lemonade nonprofit. Although she was challenged in the loss of her best friend, something very positive came as a result.
Question #6: If appointed you have 3 months on the Board of Supervisors before the primary election. What do you see as your priority as a new supervisor?
Brazunas response: Brazunas thinks it will be important to get up to speed with the other members of the Board of Supervisors. If appointed, he would ask for a sit-down with each supervisor so that he is not walking in and making decisions blindly.
Heaberg response: Heaberg believes that it is important to be receptive and respectful, especially to the citizens. He understands that the Board of Supervisors are putting their faith in him; that they are making the choice. However, just because the voter did not pick him does not mean that what the citizen desires is any less important. Heaberg does not anticipate any hot issues in the 3 months. Believes that he will be thoughtful and thorough in making decisions.
Mayock response: Although Mayock stated that 3 months is not long to get much done, she gave a list of important issues of interest: Pennsylvania Turnpike expansion and sound walls and Rt. 202 expansion and sound walls. Mayock thinks that these projects have been dragging on for a long time. Due to her Great Valley Association involvement, she said that these are particularly important projects. Mayock spoke of the importance of economic redevelopment and is interested in seeing helping businesses expand or relocate to the township. She is troubled by the empty storefronts, particularly in Paoli and views that Paoli Transportation Center as important in the revitalizing of the community.
Question #7: Do you have any questions for us?
Brazunas response: Before answering this question, Brazunas responded that he did not receive pressure from anyone and that he did not interview with anyone. As a Democrat, he stated that the understands the political realities. He makes a bi-partisan commitment to serve the public. His question for the supervisors was to ask what are the hot topics facing the Board of Supervisors. Some of the issues named by the supervisors include: upcoming collective bargaining agreements, encouraging better community communication, financial – where do we find the money, how to redevelop properties and bring business back to Tredyffrin Township – the township needs to be able to compete.
Heaberg response: Heaberg asked the supervisors what they view were the greatest challenges facing Tredyffrin. The supervisors listed collective bargaining, benefit structure, budget, re-development of the community, how to support employees financially and how to pay for it as examples of township challenges.
Mayock response: Mayock asked the supervisors to name their strengths/weakness. Lamina responded that keeping taxes low and delivering A1 service was a strength and being an active listener. Kichline responded that when she became a supervisor a year ago, it required her to make difficult decisions and was proud that she did. Additionally she mentioned that serving in an economic difficult time and still bringing in budget with no tax increase as challenging. Donahue stated that there was learning curve in serving as a supervisor. Since becoming a supervisor, he believes that there is a greater sense of professionalism in the township, including the hiring of a new finance director. He is proud that there was no tax increase as contrasted to other townships.