By MARTY LEVINE
November was a big month for Nicole Leckenby, 20-year staff member and currently Administrator III in epidemiology at the Graduate School of Public Health: She was elected to her first political office and released her first children’s book for charity.
Happily, winning a place as a Democrat on the Pleasant Hills Borough board did not involve rallies or debates, let alone help from the Russians. She didn’t even have a slogan, Leckenby reports, but she did have goals in mind: “Part of it is my children — this world is crazy. I want to be involved in the community we live in. I want to make sure it’s a safer place. Our main issues were pedestrian safety, better communication between the borough and community, and responsible spending.”
Still, this was politics, so campaigning involved a few meet-the-candidate forums, plus signs to make, postcards to mail and doors on which to knock — with, she suspects, people hiding inside: “A lot of people weren’t home,” she says, then has second thoughts, “Although I think they were home, because garages were open …”
Pleasant Hills is a borough of 8,000-plus, bordered by Baldwin and South Park, in the South Hills; Leckenby grew up next door in West Mifflin. She’s always had an interest in politics, but it but ramped up recently when she took a volunteer post with the PTA at her child’s school and with the Pleasant Hills library board, assisting the organization with event and renovation planning.
“I like being involved in my neighborhood — I like knowing what’s going on,” she says.
Although she has certainly attended many a borough board meeting, Leckenby says she could benefit from some of the courses offered each time after elections to freshly anointed legislators by the Local Government Academy and the Pennsylvania Association of Boroughs.
What is she looking forward to most, once she is sworn in on Jan. 6? “Getting to know more of my neighbors and trying to do something good in my neighborhood,” she says.
In the meantime, she’ll have the holiday season to promote “Summer Vacation,” the self-published tale of a little boy who, when asked in the fall what he did over summer break, reveals all the fun he had by not just staying home. Her mother, long a painter, contributed the illustrations.
A dollar from each book, which can be ordered and printed through Amazon, will be donated to Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer.
“I wanted to do something to give back,” Leckenby says about the book’s origin. “My cousin and another little girl whose mother I know have gone through cancer or are still getting treatments for cancer. My grandfather when I was growing up lived with cancer on and off for 14 years, so it’s doing something I’ve been passionate about.”
Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at email@example.com or 412-758-4859.
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