David Flick on the eve of his Nov. 2 mayoral election victory in McKees Rocks.
By Jamie Wiggan
Democratic nominee David Flick kept up the momentum from his upset primary victory over incumbent mayor Jack Muhr to deliver a decisive win on election day Nov. 2.
Flick, 52, presents himself as a new voice for a town that has struggled for decades to revive its former prosperity. An actor by trade, Flick made live-streamed video updates a cornerstone of his campaign, where he frequently urged viewers to see that delivering a better community begins with believing in a better community.
“I think I won because I offer legitimate, optimistic thought,” Flick said in an interview after the election. “People are desperate I think for a breath of fresh air… If my running for this inspires people that we can do better here, then that’s already the beginning of that process.”
According to unofficial results recorded by Allegheny County, Flick beat Muhr by an 18% margin with 23% of registered voters turning out to the polls.
After Flick seized the Democratic nomination during the primary in May, Muhr, a former union worker and longtime Democratic committeeman, accepted the Republican nomination to stay in the race.
Prior to his 20-year incumbency, Muhr had served as the borough’s controller and code enforcer, and began his political career on the Sto-Rox school board. He declined to comment when reached immediately after election day but indicated willingness to reflect on the outcome at a later date.
Flick, a Baldwin native, moved into McKees Rocks in 2010 after buying his great aunt and uncle’s former home on Vine Street. He now lives there with his wife, MarySue Flick.
Flick said his first memory of his new community was of coming home to find a bag of homegrown tomatoes left on his porch by a neighbor who has now passed away. The Flicks have since attempted to keep up the tradition by handing out vegetables grown in their own yard to others on their street, and have gradually ingrained themselves further into other aspects of the community.
In recent years, they’ve become regulars at council meetings and have gained a reputation as vocal opponents of several borough initiatives. They also serve on a vacant property committee tasked with resolving the community’s blighting housing issue, and the recently-formed “Welcome to Sto-Rox Committee” that’s seeking to make new arrivals feel connected to their neighbors.
Flick said this kind of engagement will remain a vital part of his new job.
“It’s all about the community,” he said.
Flick has already launched one of his key campaign pledges - a womens’ group that will have no official connection to the borough but will serve as a platform for women’s voices and initiatives throughout the community.
“It’s born out of what I saw my mother and sisters and aunts do when I was growing up,” he said.
“A room that’s just full of women, that’s different from a room that’s full of men and women, and sometimes for some reason we get in the way.”
Flick said after welcoming the group during its first meeting in October, he told them they’ll have an open door with his office anytime they want it, and then stepped away to let them run their own affairs.
MarySue said about eight women showed up to the first meeting, where, among other things, they discussed plans to beautify the neighborhood by maintaining public gardens and flower boxes.
Flick also maintains his prior investment in remediating blight will remain a key objective once in office.
Flick said his natural charisma and theatrical training give him an edge with championing the community and communicating new ideas, but acknowledged other mayoral responsibilities will require some learning on the job.
He said his goal for the police department, for instance, is to begin with “a whole lot of listening” and then see how he can best support their mission of keeping the community safe.
“These next four years are going to give me ample opportunity to learn something new,” he said.
Flick ran for a seat on council two years ago, but lost the Democratic primary and fell short again as a write-in candidate on election day.
Undeterred, he said he was still disappointed by the state of the town two years later, so he threw his hat in once again.
“I ran again because it seemed to me there was a real opportunity there to change the paradigm,” he said.