Mayor of the Year
Mayor of Homestead Borough
To say that Betty Esper, the Mayor of Homestead Borough would do anything for her community is an understatement. Her support for all things happening in her municipality is legendary. Once, to promote a new wrestling event, known as the 'Brawl under the Bridge', Mayor Esper rode on the back of a motorcycle to the contest, jumped into the ring and allowed herself to be knocked down by one of the combatants. She was 83 at the time.
Mayor Esper is a life-long resident of Homestead Borough. Like many of her neighbors, she worked in the steel mills until that industry declined. Then when her Borough was struggling to cope with the loss of many industrial jobs, Mayor Esper sought to lead her community out of its economic decline first as a Council woman for 10 years and later as Mayor for 25 years. For the last 22 years she has been on the board of the Steel Valley Enterprise Zone Corporation which fosters business investment and job creation in the multi-municipal enterprise zone. Her efforts ultimately led to a renaissance within her Borough. The crown jewel of that renaissance was the transformation of a 532-acre steel mill site into one of the premier shopping, dining and entertainment centers in all of Western Pennsylvania, known as the Waterfront.
Heavily invested in the civic life of Homestead Borough, Mayor Esper has served on the board of directors of a number of nonprofit agencies serving the vulnerable and marginalized. For 31 years, Mayor Esper has been on the board of Renewal, Inc., a program to support individuals leaving incarceration and reentering society. For 25 years, she has been a board member of Lifespan, a nonprofit agency providing critical support services to senior citizens. The last 14 years, Mayor Esper has been on the board of the Steel Valley Veterans Association. Mayor Esper has actively volunteered for the last 9 years at the Rainbow Kitchen which provides a vital safety net for individuals who are hungry, poor, homeless, elderly, disabled and unemployed.
Every demographic has been touched by Mayor Esper's generous public spirit. Mayor Esper actively participates in children's programs often donating gifts so that every child feels special. She has worked to improve living conditions in four senior citizen high rise apartment complexes. Even in death, Mayor Esper does not abandon her constituents as she strives to make funeral home visits to the family of every person who has died in her community.
As Mayor of Homestead Borough, Betty Esper has been the driving force behind many initiatives including recreation programs, annual clean-ups and fund drives to support the police and fire departments. Her public safety initiatives have resulted in a reduction in community crime. She helped to develop a County-wide District Attorney Police Training Center. To achieve past-due recognition for the world champion Homestead Grays Baseball Team, she led efforts to get the Homestead High Level Bridge renamed in the Team's honor, the Homestead Grays Bridge.
For her many accomplishments and the exemplary manner in which she has held the Office of Mayor, the PSMA calls upon all Mayors to recognize and congratulate Mayor Betty Esper as our 2019 "Mayor of the Year."
View the previous Mayor of the Year winners