WEST PITTSTON — Council members selected Tom Blaskiewicz as the borough’s next mayor at a special public meeting on Tuesday night.
The decision was made on a 6-0 vote with Councilwoman Judy Aita abstaining because she is related to Blaskiewicz.
Blaskiewicz will fill the unexpired term of the late Tony Denisco, who passed away at the end of April. Blaskiewicz’s term will expire at the end of 2017. He will be sworn in as mayor at 2:30 p.m. May 31 at the borough building. He was one of three residents to apply for the position.
Council President Brian Thornton said he knew Blaskiewicz was the right man for the job based on his comments when he was asked to be mayor.
“When I reached out to Tom his first words were ‘I feel very honored that you guys would even ask me this,’” Thornton said. “His only reluctance was he said he didn’t want to cause any friction in town and that if he pursued this, that everyone would be on board with him.”
A Pittston Area High School graduate, Blaskiewicz, 55, grew up in Avoca but has been a West Pittston resident for the past 15 years.
His political background includes being a Democratic committee man in Avoca and serving on the Luzerne County Democratic state committee. He served as one of the original Northeast Baseball board members and was vice president of the Avoca Jolly Boys Organization.
Blaskiewicz’s roles in West Pittston include being on the Property Maintenance Board of Appeals, a position he will resign due to being mayor.
He is currently employed at McCarthy Tire in Wilkes-Barre and handles their government and special contracts.
Blaskiewicz said he and Denisco were close friends, and he was going to serve as Denisco’s campaign manager for the next mayoral election.
He admitted it was hard to even consider applying to be the borough’s next mayor.
“It was a really, really hard decision,” said Blaskiewicz. “I was standing outside (the building) because there is just a lot of emotion. Tony Denisco was just a world-class guy. …
“Brian Thornton called me and asked me to consider it. I’ve volunteered to so many organizations. I raised my kids, and I was raised by my mom and dad to volunteer at our church and in the community. When you get a call from all-stars like Brian Thornton, Pete Albano and the rest of council, it’s hard to say no.”
Blaskiewicz is eager to get his tenure started.
“What’s great about this community is they have nothing up their sleeve and I’m the same kind of guy,” he said. “We want to do the right thing, and we’re passionate about doing it. We will only do the right thing for the residents of this town. I’ll be here for the next (19) months serving and looking forward to bringing a lot of energy.”
In other business, council members approved:
• the hiring of Michael Fuller, of Forty Fort, and Donald J. Noble, of Exeter, as part-time police officers.
• temporarily closing Elm Street and Susquehanna Avenue to Erie Street, Erie Street to Tunkhannock Avenue, Tunkhannock Avenue to Route 92 and Exeter Avenue to the borough building on June 4 for the annual Anthracite Run, which begins at 9 a.m.