Voters shake up row offices, toss Democrats

| Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011

Westmoreland County Republicans on Tuesday appeared to have ousted eight-term Register of Wills Earl Keim and three-term Recorder of Deeds Tom Murphy.

Two-term Controller Carmen Pedicone, another Democrat, was in a cliffhanger and finally fell to write-in candidate Jeff Balzer when the last precinct was counted. He lost by 262 votes.

Republican Frank Schiefer, 30, of Hempfield will replace Murphy as recorder of deeds.

"The voters were ready for change, and I'm ready to get to work," Schiefer said.

Murphy accepted his loss.

"I just would like to thank the people of Westmoreland County for the 12 years they let me serve ... I enjoyed it. I don't really know what happened because it was across the board ... I can't explain it," Murphy said.

With 306 precincts reporting:

-- Schiefer received 52.5 percent of the vote and Murphy, 47.5 percent.

-- Balzer had 50.2 percent of the vote to Pedicone's 49.8.

-- In the race for treasurer, Jared Squires had 55 percent of the vote against Democrat Donald O'Brien.

-- Penn Township Commissioner Michael Ginsburg had 50.3 percent of the vote, ahead of Keim by about 320 votes.

All results are unofficial, pending certification by the county election bureau.

Personal problems dogged Murphy, 47, of Arnold, during the campaign. Murphy had not paid property taxes since 2009, county records show, and his home was sold at sheriff's sale last spring.

Murphy owes the federal government more than $71,000 in income taxes while the state Department of Revenue filed a tax lien against him for more than $3,000 in unpaid taxes, records show.

Schiefer is serving his first term as a jury commissioner. Four years ago, he ran unsuccessfully for county treasurer, and six years ago, he lost an election bid for clerk of courts.

Pedicone, 62, of Jeannette and Balzer, 46, of New Alexandria were awaiting the final results. Balzer is a private insurance adjuster who won a write-in campaign in May.

During the campaign, Balzer praised Pedicone for his work, but said that the incumbent should be limited to two terms.

Keim, 61, of Youngwood, was first elected in 1979. Ginsburg, 58, is a two-term Penn Township commissioner and chemical salesman.

O'Brien, 53, of Mt. Pleasant Township was seeking to succeed his mother, Kathalyn O'Brien, who is retiring after 20 years as treasurer. Donald O'Brien's wife, Christina, was elected prothonotary two years ago.

Squires, 34, is a Mt. Pleasant Township businessman who was seeking his first political office.

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