There are two words new Monessen Mayor Ron Moser uses to best describe his vision for the city – prosperity and equality.
In his mind that has to be the theme as the city looks toward its future. It’s one of the many reasons he decided to run for mayor.
“This town has been in such turmoil,” he said. “If nothing else, I believe that God called me to do this. I can’t say it any other way. Everything combined said, I’ve got to do this. That’s what happened.”
Moser said there are a couple of things he likes to reference as he charts a course for Monessen’s future.
One is the success of another city in the Mon Valley – Monongahela.
“Monongahela is a thriving community,” Moser said. “Some 30-40 years ago, somebody charted a course, and (they) all stuck to it. You don’t have this constant fighting going on. You’ve been able to negotiate and work together and work in one direction.”
The other is the story of Horatio Nelson Jackson, who in 1903 with driving partner Sewell K. Crocker, became the first people to drive across the United States in an automobile.
“Nobody had ever done that before,” Moser said. “But he had a vision. There was only 200 miles of road from coast to coast at the time. Sixty-one days later he arrived in New York City. Twenty years later, there’s roads going all across the country and there’s 20 million vehicles.”
That spurred Moser to think the city has to look years into the future.
“We have to have a vision,” he said. “What is the problem with Monessen? You’ve got one side of Monessen that is doing well and the other side that’s not. You’ve got five county housing projects going on. You have some opportunities here. I don’t call them problems. I call them opportunities.
“And the only way we’re going to rectify that is – equality and prosperity. That’s got to be the theme of what we’re doing. Everything we do from this point forward needs to be based on those two things.”
Moser said true equality is achieved when race, religion or sexual preference do not matter. Everyone is equal.
“The only way you can do that is to have prosperity,” Moser said. “Can you bring everybody up?
One of the first areas Moser feels needs to be targeted is that of blight. But it’s not an easy task.
“It’s clear to me that there is not money in this state that is set aside for blight,” Moser said. “There’s more money floating around in this country than there has ever been in our lifetime. You’ve got infrastructure bills and programs floating around with the federal government that are bigger than everything that we’ve ever seen before. Yet there’s not a penny that comes through for blight removal.”
So contact was made with Mark Little, chair of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, which is located in Washington, D.C. He came to Monessen to get a view of the city.
“He looks at me and says, ‘I’ve been all over this country. I’ve been to some of the worst and most depressed places in Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio,” Moser said. “I’ve been to all the industrial places and all of the steel and coal places that have suffered. When the president says, build back better, this is what he’s talking about, right here.”
Moser said he wants to find a way to build Monessen back better, maybe by finding ways for those who may need them to acquire low-cost loans to improve their homes to match the standards of new homes he hopes to have come into the city.
That gets back to Moser’s plan of equality and prosperity.
“That fits in just perfectly,” Moser said. “It’s those kinds of things that I want to encourage in this town and move forward with.”