Four candidates seeking six council seats in Apollo
Resignations, appointments and a lack of candidates is making for an interesting, and potentially confusing, council election in Apollo this year.
Like the last election in 2011, six of the seven council seats are up for election. Councilman Darhl Goldinger holds the only council seat not up.
Of the six seats, four carry four-year terms. Two carry two-year terms.
But there are more seats than candidates.
Four incumbents — three Democrats and one Republican — are running for the six seats.
That will leave at least two seats up for potentially being filled by write-in candidates.
If not, council will have to appoint members after the November election.
To appear on the general election ballot in November, a write-in candidate would have to get at least 10 votes in the May 21 primary, according to Armstrong County election officials.
Two incumbents, Amy Poydence and Pat Zelonka, do not appear on the primary ballot.
They were both elected in 2011 on a write-in slate that included former borough Police Chief Paul Breznican.
Breznican was not allowed to claim the seat, with legal debate conducted over whether he could be police chief and a councilman at the same time. He gave up pursuit of the seat, was fired by the borough and awaits trial on theft charges.
Poydence said she is not seeking re-election because she is contemplating buying a home outside the borough. Zelonka did not return calls for comment.
Council President David Heffernan, the only Republican, is seeking re-election after earlier saying he would not.
His 12-year tenure matches that of council Vice President Cindee Virostek, who had served on council from 1989 to 2001. She returned to council in September when she was appointed to fill Breznican's seat.
Mark Greenawalt was also appointed in September, replacing Councilwoman Debbie Schrecengost, who resigned.
Dennis Gabrielli was appointed in November to replace Karen Kenzevich, who was appointed mayor in October to replace Rich Dixon, who resigned.
Kenzevich, a Republican, is the only candidate for mayor.
Getting past the turmoil of recent years and moving the borough forward, notably by developing the riverfront, are shared goals of all four candidates. Party divisions, if present, are not evident.
“I'm here to try to do my best to move the town in a forward direction, by working together with the other council members and the residents to better Apollo,” Gabrielli said.
Gabrielli said he wants to bring business to town and develop recreational opportunities for kids. He wants development at the riverfront that brings jobs.
“Whatever we can do to bring a positive light to this town and try to bring the tax base back up by bringing some businesses in,” he said.
Greenawalt said he wants to get more people step up to help better Apollo rather than criticizing in the background.
“I just think the town is a great town,” he said. “The town, itself, also needs businesses down in the industrial park. We need to keep the people here. There's so many houses up for sale.”
Greenawalt said he wants to find grants to repave the borough's street, damaged by the sewage separation project. “Our streets are horrific.”
Virostek also said she'd like to find grant money for street repairs; it's the next big project she said she'd like to see.
To put an end to negative publicity, Virostek said she wants to bring positive things to Apollo, such as development of the riverfront. She'd like to have it further cleaned up by removing piles of concrete dumped there from the sewage project.
“Finding some way to get rid of those big piles of concrete is one of the main things I want to have done next on that property,” she said. “We need to clean that eyesore up.”
Developing the riverfront to the town's betterment was a motivation for Heffernan to stay in office.
“I kept saying I wouldn't run, but as I continued thinking about things, I just want to try to get the town where I like it to be,” he said. “That has a lot to do with our property down by the river.”
Heffernan said he sees the turmoil “pretty much over with.”
“I see a council that has very little experience,” he said. “I think I can continue to help the town in that regard. I have that experience. I can pass that on.
“We have some new guys who are going to be good. I want them to learn. I want them to take what I got and run with it.”
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or firstname.lastname@example.org.