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Once again it's Magnetta vs. Carter in Tarentum

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Tarentum mayor

Name: Carl Magnetta

Party: Democrat

Age: 74

Residence: 169 Cedar St.

Political experience: Elected mayor in 2011 to a two-year term after being appointed to two-year term in January 2010 following the death of Mayor James Wolfe. First elected to council in 1964, served until 1977; served as mayor for one year in the late 1970s; reappointed to council in 2003, won two terms; has served on council for a total of 21 years.

Name: Eric Carter

Party: Democrat

Age: 40

Residence: 601 Second Ave.

Political experience: Appointed to council in 2006; elected in 2007. Re-elected to council to a four-year term in 2011.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Monday, May 13, 2013, 1:21 a.m.

The race for Tarentum's Democratic mayoral nomination might seem like a case of déjà vu to voters.

But that's understandable considering that the field of candidates is the same as it was two years ago.

At that time, Carl Magnetta, who was completing a two-year mayoral appointment, was running for the final two years of the late James Wolfe's term. His opponent was the same as it is now, Councilman Eric Carter.

Both candidates appear to be happy with the borough police department, the oversight of which is the biggest responsibility a borough mayor has by law.

Each was asked what changes they had in mind for the police department if they receive the nomination and are elected in the fall.

“I don't have any specific plans,” said Magnetta, an Allegheny County Housing Authority retiree. “There's been talk through the years about merging some of our local police departments, but it has been mostly talk. I think if we can save money for the municipalities and do a good job, do the job that I feel the Tarentum police department is doing now, I would be in favor of it 100 percent.”

“I feel our police department is one of the best in the Valley; they do a fantastic job” he said, adding that he has “a fantastic” relationship the chief and just about every officer.

Carter, a manager for Conco Systems said, “The plans I have is basically to get the police department back into the hands of the chief, and I really don't want to go into that.”

“Although the mayor is in charge of the police department, the police department is run by the chief,” he said. “My goal is, anything I want to do … do it hand-in-hand with the chief, include his ideas and anything that he wants to improve. I can throw out all kinds of ideas that I want to do this or do that, but I don't think it is fair to the chief to do that without talking to him.”

Carter said he was most concerned with making sure the department's equipment and training are constantly updated and coming up with the money to do that.

When asked why he believes he would be a better mayor than his opponent, Carter said, “I learned a lot from my grandfather who was James Wolfe and years of watching him from when I was a kid. I think watching him, being around him gave me a lot of knowledge to be successful as mayor.”

He said because he works a daylight job, he has the availability to residents that a mayor needs in the evenings. Carter said he is able to keep in touch with Borough Manager Bill Rossey daily and police Chief Bill Vakulick via phone and emails.

“I am always ready to handle whatever situation I need to handle, whether it is in the morning or night,” Carter said. “I know a lot of the police force. It's a young force, and I think somebody in the same age group can communicate a little better.”

Magnetta responded to the same question by saying, “Because I feel that I am just like an ambassador for Tarentum. Last year alone, I attended over 200 meetings, conferences — I go to everything. I have a very good relationship with the federal, state and county people in office. We're on a first-name basis.

“This is why we are getting the grants we are getting, we are visible,” he said. “We know these people, they know us, they know our problems.”

Availability is something that Magnetta also talked about.

“Twenty four/seven I am available,” he said. “I am in my office almost every day. I meet with citizens in my office who come in with problems. I enjoy it, I love my job as mayor, and I love our town.

“If you want to do the job, you have to be available, and I am available. You have to be the ambassador for your town.”

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or

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