White Oak mayor ready to tackle new role
White Oak Mayor Ina Jean Marton became involved in government at an early age.
"When I was 16 years old, I was asked to work at the polls," she said. "Ever since then, I've been very interested in politics. I like to make a difference."
Marton will be sworn in as the 33rd president of the Allegheny County Mayor's Association Thursday night.
"I'm very honored to be president of such a fine association," she said. "There will be others installed as well. I'm sure they'll be happy to be part of the organization."
Since she was 16, Marton has been involved in politics in some way, working the polls in White Oak, being a Republican committee member and being Judge of Elections.
"I've been a committeewoman for 30-some years," Marton said.
Marton has been a member of the county mayor's association since she became White Oak mayor in 2004. She became a board member in 2006 and was vice president in 2011.
Marton also is the treasurer of the state Mayor's Association and has been a member of that group since she became mayor, as well.
Before Marton was White Oak mayor, she was a borough councilwoman for 11 years beginning in 1994.
"When the seat was open, I decided I wanted to be mayor," she said. "I was a councilwoman for a while and I decided I wanted to do something different. I like what I'm doing. Being I was born and raised in White Oak, I really love White Oak and I want to see us progress. I want to keep it a safe community. I think the people here are friendly, nice and very supportive of me, as I am of them. People here go out of their way to help people."
While she is still a Republican Committee member, she had to resign as Judge of Elections when she ran for council.
In her role as mayor, she oversees the White Oak Police Department in addition to handling borough matters with council.
"I like being mayor because of my interaction with people and helping them," Marton said. "If I can't help them, I will be able to direct them somewhere else to give them support."
Marton also is founder and president of White Oak Animal Safe Haven, which conveniently is located across from the municipal building along Lincoln Way. She opened the no-kill shelter's doors Sept. 21, 2003.
"I've always had a love for animals," Marton said. "I want to be their spokesperson. I want to save their lives and give them to good homes. I also help people who want animals. A lot of families have had their lives changed after they adopted a dog or cat from our shelter or any shelter. We receive so many thank-you cards that say how much people love their animals and what we've done for them."
She said she began WOASH because many animals around the area were being euthanized.
The animal shelter has adopted out more than 8,000 cats and dogs since opening.
"She loves being mayor and being president of the animal shelter," said White Oak council vice president Ed Babyak, who also is a retired White Oak police sergeant.
"She's a great people person," borough Councilman Ron Massung said. "She likes to keep busy and this keeps her busy."
Massung is Marton's delegate to the county Mayor's Association.
After she graduated from McKeesport High School, Marton attended a design school offered by Gimbel's department store for two years. She worked at Gimbel's in North Versailles Township for a couple years, then met her first husband, Rich Marton, who passed away in 2008. Marton was a secretary for a plumbing and heating company until she left to raise her children Ryan Marton and Dana Marton.
Marton worked for 11 years in the special education department at McKeesport Area School District before retiring in 2004.
Marton married Robert Zitcovich in September 2011. She has five grandchildren and one more on the way.
Future plans for Marton include expanding the animal shelter. She said she also would like to someday see a community center for all ages in White Oak.
"I want to continue to keep the borough as safe as possible," Marton said. "I want to continue to have the best police force that we have now. We have a great police chief."
She noted being mayor is not a stepping stone for her.
"I don't want to be anything else," Marton said.
She also lauded White Oak council for its cooperation and professionalism.
"We all try to be a family and get along," Marton said. "We're not here to benefit ourselves. We're here to agree to disagree, but to walk out being friends for the betterment of the people of White Oak. You don't have much controversy in White Oak. It's because we try to get along. We work for the people and not ourselves."
Other mayors being sworn in as officers Thursday will be Bethel Park Mayor Cliff Morton as vice president, East Pittsburgh Mayor Louise Payne as vice president, retired Chalfant Mayor Steve Orosz as secretary, and Castle Shannon Mayor Don Baumgarten and Chalfant Mayor Jim Perry as mayors-at large. The speaker will be Mark Evelsizer, coordinator for the FBI National Academy.