Greg Kasko has decided to run but not for public office. The Westfield resident will instead compete in July 2013's IRONMAN in Lake Placid.
A lifelong athlete, in June of 2012 Kasko vowed to tackle the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile run that make up the event.
"It's a huge time commitment as is running for Town Council which I experienced in the spring and summer of 2011," said the Third Ward resident who sought a seat on the Council that year but lost to Mark LoGrippo. "With a family and a full-time job, you have to pick and choose. For me, it's family first and everything else second."
Kasko, who ran as an Independent, said while he thoroughly enjoyed campaigning two years ago, he knew he had "a slim chance of winning." Getting out and meeting with fellow residents alongside his daughter, who served as his campaign manager, afforded him the opportunity to find out what was on the minds of voters.
With the deadline for submitting his intent to run looming at 4 p.m. today, Kasko said several Westfielders have asked him if he would run again as Councilman David Haas' term is expiring.he will challenge Mayor Andy Skibitsky, who is seeking a third term.)
"Although I am not running for Town Council that doesn't mean I can't be effective with what goes on in and around our community, a town I've lived in for 42 years," he said.
A retired Westfield police officer, Kasko regularly attends meetings of the Town Council to question elected officials on matters of municipal spending and public safety—commonly, the placement of the Central Avenue HAWK light, and more recently, the authority of Westfield's crossing guards. The Everson Place homeowner said he is aware that he has a reputation as an "outspoken citizen" and added that he recognizes that by raising these questions, he is opening himself up to public criticism but noted he is not fearful of that.
"I want to be part of a solution," he said. "Some people might say I'm the problem, but I see myself more as an advocate. I love this town. For the same reasons my parents moved here, I've chosen to stay here and raise my family: great schools, a beautiful downtown. Westfield is a great place but there is always room for improvement."
Kasko said he still plans to attend council meetings because he believes they are "an effective way to communicate with the council and the town publicly." He also noted that attending the biweekly meetings does not take the time and dedication that running for and serving on the Town Council would require.
Time is a precious commodity for the father of two. Tailoring his workouts around family obligations often means training at 5 a.m. or late into the evening, but Kasko said he doesn't mind. Running has been a source of pride and satisfaction for Kasko, who got his start at the age of 6, and went on to complete the Jersey Shore Marathon in 4 hours and 15 minutes at the age of 10. The sport later scored Kasko a free ride to Susquehanna University.
"My parents, like any parents, saw a talent and they nurtured it," said Kasko, who added that a framed copy of the cover of Sports Illustrated on which his father, also an athlete, appeared, hung in his grandmother's home. "While other kids wanted to be like Mike, I wanted to be like Bob."
As much as he believes there needs to be a change in terms of the political makeup of Westfield, Kasko will be focused on sports rather than politics in the coming months as he prepares for Lake Placid. Noting that he feels great and has plenty of energy, the consummate competitor said he has set three goals for himself: 1) finish 2) beat friend and fellow Westfielder Paul Armstrong and 3) complete the Ironman in 13 hours.