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Westmoreland Commissioner Gina Cerilli to seek Tim Murphy's seat in Congress

Matthew Santoni
| Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, 10:33 a.m.
Gina Cerilli places her hand on a Bible held by her grandmother, Elizabeth Pennesi, while being sworn in as Westmoreland County commissioner on Dec. 29, 2015, in the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Gina Cerilli places her hand on a Bible held by her grandmother, Elizabeth Pennesi, while being sworn in as Westmoreland County commissioner on Dec. 29, 2015, in the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg.
(From left) Westmoreland County commissioners Charles Anderson, Gina Cerilli and Ted Kopas attended the Westmoreland Parks & Recreation Citizens Advisory Board Green Luncheon at the Twin Lakes Park expansion area on  Sept. 21, 2017.
Kim Stepinsky | For the Tribune-Review
(From left) Westmoreland County commissioners Charles Anderson, Gina Cerilli and Ted Kopas attended the Westmoreland Parks & Recreation Citizens Advisory Board Green Luncheon at the Twin Lakes Park expansion area on Sept. 21, 2017.

Westmoreland County Commissioner Gina Cerilli is joining the list of candidates seeking to replace resigning Congressman Tim Murphy in a special election, she announced Thursday.

"I've always thought about running for Congress, I just never expected it to be this soon," she told the Tribune-Review. "Westmoreland County hasn't had a (native) Congressperson in over 15 years; this is our chance to have a seat at the table."

Cerilli, a Democrat from Hempfield, is in her first term on the board of commissioners. She was the first woman to serve as chair of the commission since 1975.

She earned a bachelor's degree and a master's in business administration from Philadelphia University and a law degree from Duquesne University.

As a member of Congress, Cerilli said her priorities would be creating good-paying jobs for the region, fighting for seniors and veterans, protecting Social Security and Medicare, improving the health care system and addressing a nationwide opioid crisis "that has touched so many families in Southwest Pennsylvania," she said in her announcement.

Cerilli joins former Pennsylvania State Education Association President and Allegheny County Councilman Mike Crossey, former VA official Pam Iovino and emergency physician Bob Solomon in seeking the Democratic committee's nomination to run for the U.S. House of Representatives seat Murphy is vacating.

Cerilli said she has spoken with and gotten support from local officials for her run and will start reaching out to Democratic committee members to seek the party's support.

Republicans George Karpacs, Guy Reschenthaler, Rick Saccone and state Sen. Kim Ward of Hempfield have all announced they will seek their party's nomination to run for the seat.

Each party will choose a candidate to run in the special election for Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District , for which Gov. Tom Wolf has not yet set a date. The district includes parts of Allegheny, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

Murphy will officially resign Oct. 21 , following a scandal in which the anti-abortion Republican had an affair with a married woman and, when they feared she might be pregnant, sent text messages urging her to get an abortion.

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