Democratic Party vice chairman to run for commissioner
A self-described centrist who serves as the Somerset County Democratic Party’s vice chairman announced this week that he will seek his party’s nomination for Somerset County commissioner.
Daniel Hillegas, 52, of Hollsopple, said that running for public office was something he always wanted to do.
“I was going to wait until I retired, but I figured now would be a good time to do it,” he said.
He is employed by Gregori Construction, of Sarver, and has been a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66 since 1994.
He said that former Commissioner Bob Will was a family friend, and he grew up listening to him talk about his service to the county.
“I always thought it was neat that he ran for commissioner and that always stuck in the back of my mind,” he said.
With the exception of years he lived in California and Arizona, Hillegas has always lived in Somerset County. He attended grade school at St. Peter Catholic School and graduated from Somerset Area High School.
He started to serve as county Democratic Party vice chairman about three years ago. He also served as an at-large state Democratic committee member before being elected to the state committee.
“I’m just a hard worker, and I would like to make the community better,” he said.
Hillegas said he believes he can bring a different perspective to the office.
“I think I can bring some new ideas and innovations to the office,” he said. “I just have an interest in getting involved and doing something for the community.”
Hillegas said that although he is a Democrat, he has centrist values.
“We need to work together,” he said. “Nothing is getting done.”
Hillegas said he will be attending commissioners meetings as his job allows. He is a former member of the Mountain Field and Stream Club and New Baltimore Sportsmen. In his free time, he plays in a classic rock band.
“We recorded an album last year that is out now,” he said.
He is the third Democrat to announce an intent to seek one of two Democratic nominations. Former Commissioner Pamela Tokar-Ickes and nurse Frank Pelesky are also seeking the Democratic nod.