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Peters Township Council: Meghan Jones-Rolla and Ted Taylor IV

Council newcomers challenge incumbents in primary race.

Editor's Note: This article was updated Wednesday, May 4 at 1:45 p.m.

In addition to council incumbents , Meghan Jones-Rolla and Ted Taylor IV are running in the primaries. There were no Democrats to file petitions.

Meghan Jones-Rolla

  • Current attorney with Meyer-Darragh of Pittsburgh
  • Experience covers many areas of law, but she primarily focuses on civil litigation
  • Has counseled municipalities on general municipal matters
  • Baltimore native, moved to Upper St. Clair at 12 years old
  • Graduate of Seton-La Salle High School and Duquesne University with a degree in journalism
  • Attended Duquesne University’s School of Law and graduated with law degree in 2002
  • Worked for five years as a consumer/legal affairs reporter for WTAE-TV
  • As an attorney, has represented gun owners and individuals that have been denied access to firearms in both civil and criminal courts
  • Is counsel for the National Rifle Association’s challenge of the City of Pittsburgh firearms ordinance
  • Has practiced law in regulatory compliance/licensing law practice
  • Is admitted to the Pennsylvania and Unites States Supreme Courts
  • Worked as an intern in the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office in the Bureau of Consumer Protection
  • Worked in the office of Hon. Alan N. Bloch of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
  • Served as a press secretary for Heather Heidelbaugh for Allegheny County, Tim Murphy for Congress and Mark DeSantis for Mayor of Pittsburgh in 2007
  • Married to Deron Rolla, a staff attorney for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Why are you running for Peters Township Council?

I originally had heard that one of the current council members had planned to retire, and had talked with others and really thought I could make a difference. I’ve watched township meetings online just to get a feel for what the council has been doing. I really think I can make a positive difference. I really like Peters Township, and I think my background is conducive to being on council and doing a good job for the township.

What is the biggest issue in the township, and how do you feel is best to resolve it?

One of the things that has made Peters Township attractive is low taxes, and I think the challenge is keeping them low. We have to look at outside vendors, how we can be more efficient in the way we do business, so that we can save taxpayers as much as we can without going to those dreaded two words: tax increase.

In light of the current economy, with budget cuts at the federal and state levels, how can Peters remain solvent without major increases in taxes?

I believe PT Council should explore cost-cutting measures, which relate to the outside services that it must purchase on behalf of taxpayers. This would include reevaluating all current contracts with outside vendors, as well as regularly opening the bid process on all financial investment services it utilizes, i.e., pension allocation for qualified municipal employees. In other words, run the township as though it were a for-profit company.

Peters Township has benefited from residential and commercial development because of the amount of revenue it generates. I believe the greatest challenge facing the township is maintaining a constant level of development. New construction increased in 2010. But, it was still below normal. I am encouraged that the township has 25 developments scheduled for 2011. Commercial development generates the most revenue and I hope to see that continue to increase.

What is the first priority for council?

I think the Marcellus Shale issue will be resolved by the time the new council takes office, so I believe the priority should be the priority of the time of maintaining the budget, and making sure we’re not out of line. I think we need to collect all taxes that are owed and due to us such as the upcoming earned income tax, and make smart decisions with their money.

Why should the voters elect you?

I think because I’m serious about the position. I want to make a contribution and I think that my experience with being an attorney, as well as my working in the journalism field in covering local, state and federal government issues, gives me a good grasp of issues that face the township. I have a goal in mind to keep Peters Township a vibrant community for everyone. A lot of people talk what they would do if they were in office. I think more than talking about what I would do, I may as well do it and try to make a positive contribution.

Ted Taylor IV

  • Lifelong resident of Peters Township
  • Current agent, executive and broker with Realty Executives
  • Resume includes his work as a Regional Developer for western Pennsylvania, which includes 26 counties from Centre County to the Ohio state line
  • Points to his family’s long history in the Peters Township area, tracing it back to the 1800s
  • Noted his great grandfather was a carpenter and worked on the construction of the Washington County Courthouse
  • Married to wife Angel; father of three children, an 8-year-old daughter and two sons—ages 5 and 2
  • Graduated Magna Cum Lade from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000 with a business administration degree specializing in finance

Why are you running for Peters Township Council?

I’ve been attending Peters Township meetings since I was 16 years old. They’ve included council meetings, as well as planning commission and zoning board meetings. I come from a fifth-generation land development company that has exclusively built residential homes in Peters Township. We have roots in the township, and I’ve tried to give back to my community since I was about 19 years old. I’ve interviewed for vacancies on council, but was denied. I want to be involved.

What is the biggest issue in the township, and how do you feel is best to resolve it?

There are a few, but my biggest is traffic. Anyone who has traveled East McMurray Road in the morning knows there’s a fiasco getting to the high school. It existed when I went there and it’s five to ten times worse now. We’ve put money in an escrow account from the real estate and development community for traffic impact fees. I want to see some accountability there. We need to focus on these projects and getting them done especially if they don’t get funded.

In light of the current economy, with budget cuts at the federal and state levels, how can Peters remain solvent without major increases in taxes?

The first thing is not to borrow money that we don’t need. Our budget has gone from $12 million to $17 million or $18 million, and part of the reason has been for PennDOT projects and capital improvements to the park. We don’t need to do all these things at one time. They need to be spread out. I don’t think we would be doing a disservice by staying disciplined.

What is the first priority for council?

The biggest thing is the completion of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan. It’s gone to the back burner because of issues like the Marcellus Shale and crematory ordinances. The Comprehensive Land Use Plan is the biggest thing I would want to tackle right away.

Why should the voters elect you?

I’m young, I’m involved and I go to as many council meetings as I can. I have a lot of energy, and like my family, I plan on staying in Peters. I’m here for the duration, and I’m committed here. I can assure voters that when I say something, I am going to get it done.

Read our full list of municipal election candidates for the May 17 primaries . Also, visit our interviews with school board candidates below.

Ted Taylor 4 May 03, 2011 at 05:11 PM
@Joe - It is WONDERFUL to see taxpayers and citizens of Peters Township involved in the current issues that face our Township. Thank You for asking the question. Every 10 Years it is customary for The Planning Department to take on a major project, that being the updating of The Comprehensive Land Use Plan. There are not 'issues' per se that need to be looked at, but the vacant land properties that still exist in the township need to be analyzed to determine 'The Highest & Best Use' of those properties. There are very few available vacant Residentially zoned Properties (greater than 10 acres) that are not actively being farmed in the Township, and therefore, as development continues in all areas of the township (Residential/Commercial/Industrial), The Township needs to analyze the areas that are 'undeveloped' and determine what the future of those areas of the township are going to look like. This usually ends up being a very labor intensive project, and can be confrontational at times too (as it was in 2000 when the last Plan was developed). With the traffic issues that the township is now facing grow and get more complicated, this only makes this Plan that much more important. If you have any further questions, PLEASE do not hesitate to email me privately at tedtaylor4@gmail.com - Thanks Again!
Joe May 04, 2011 at 04:06 AM
I believe Ted Taylor's desire to enter any political office is primarily personal and he will not put the interest of any community above his own. It makes sense that his primary objective is land use/development as he (actually, his father) owns a significant amount of real estate to develop. Clearly a conflict of interest. He lacks the maturity, quality of education, and work history worthy of any political office. I'm confident that the residents of Peters Township are intelligent enough to avoid checking his name on any ballot as his only qualifications are showing up at council meetings, having family in the area for a long time, and wanting to develop more real estate. I do not know a great deal about the incumbents Atkison or Lewis. As for Jones-Rolla, based on education, ethics, and work history alone, she would clearly be a better choice.
joe May 04, 2011 at 04:20 PM
The comment about Ted Taylors desire is crazy. He is qualified, and who would know the development end of things better than a builder/developer. All council members are in some kind of business.
Concerned Citizen May 05, 2011 at 01:51 PM
I agree with Joe's original comment, I believe this a conflict of interest and some of the development plans that are being reviewed are in Ted Taylor's best interest including turning a quiet residential neighborhood into a throughway to reach Bower Hill school. Clearly Jones-Rolla is much more qualified and has my vote.
Andrea Bosco May 05, 2011 at 01:56 PM
Just to be clear, our intent was not to place these candidates against each other. We simply formatted the interviews by twos so that each article was a quick, web read. Read about the other two council candidates here: http://patch.com/A-gS8b.

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