Interview with Ed Russo, candidate for first ward alderman

When he ran for re-election as first ward alderman two years ago, Ed Russo said he was concerned about the negativity between the council and the mayor and recognized the need for the council to stop the “baloney” and concentrate on the big issues. After the November 2015 election, Russo emerged as the only one of five members re-elected to the council.

At a recent interview at his Chapel Place home, Russo said, “They wanted the mayor out and they wanted all the aldermen out. I survived that, it made me feel good.”

In regards to the current relationships between the council members and mayor, he said, “We’re all on the same page, and got a lot more accomplished than we did in the past two years.”

“I just hope everything goes smooth the next two years. I’m looking forward to it,” he added.

If elected to a third term on the council, Russo said he will continue discussions about what to do about the aging Department of Public Works building.

“The building’s falling apart,” he said.

In order to fix the problem Russo said he is in favor of constructing a new building.

“It’s needed, we’re just pouring money into the [old] building, and we’re never going to get anything out of it,” he said.

The problem of negative fund balances in the both the golf course fund and transportation fund is another area he sees as needing attention. He said both departments need to at least come close to breaking even.

At the golf course, Russo said he would like to look at the idea of expanding or renovating the existing club house in order to accommodate larger weddings and banquets in order to bring in more revenue.

“We’re losing money every year,” he remarked.

In regards to the transportation department, Russo said he is in favor of studying the idea of a regional bus system incorporating neighboring municipalities to replace the city system, something he was involved with discussions on during his first term. He said that he wants to ensure the city has a leading role in the new system.

Russo said he will also continue to advocate for creating a purchasing agent position, possibly shared between the city and Montgomery County, in order to reduce the cost of supplies used by multiple departments.

Additionally, Russo said he will continue to stay on top of the city’s financial situation by asking questions of the controller at council meetings, and will follow the progress of resolving a discrepancy between the city and the county in regards to property tax due to the county.

Russo said he gets many calls from constituents about the quality of the city’s roads. He said he will work to make sure sewer and water lines underneath roads are fixed first before a road is re-paved. He added that he was glad to have worked with Mayor Michael Villa to expedite sewer system repairs on Pershing Road.

Russo said he has retired from his position as Deputy Commissioner of Building and Grounds at Montgomery County Public Works, where he has served for approximately 28 years. He has also served as president of the local Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) for 20 years, a position he stepped down from approximately 2 years ago.

Now that he has retired, Russo said he has more time to focus on the community, and mentioned that he had done ride-alongs with the police and public works to gain insight on operations in those departments.

Russo is running on the Republican, Conservative, and Independence Party lines. He will face challenger Pamela Swart on the Democratic Party Line.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.