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Vaccaro selected to run for Leechburg council

| Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 1:30 p.m.

One candidate's withdrawal from the race for Leechburg Council has opened the door for another to make his first foray into politics.

The Armstrong County Democratic Party chose Christian Vaccaro to replace Chuck Pascal for borough council in the Nov. 5 election.

Voters will choose from six candidates — three Republicans and three Democrats — to fill four council seats.

Pascal, a former Leechburg mayor and school board member, ran in the May primary for borough council, mayor and Leechburg Area School Board.

Pascal won nominations for council and school board. He was defeated for mayor by Councilman Shawn Lerch, who secured both party nominations.

Pascal will remain on the ballot for school board, but declined the council nomination, according to Armstrong County Elections.

“The whole purpose of running for multiple offices was to hold the ability for the party to nominate people who we found who are interested after the deadline to file for the primary,” Pascal said. “If there's a blank there, the party doesn't have the ability to nominate anybody. If there's a person there who withdraws, the party can nominate someone.”

Pascal said he was more interested in serving on school board than council. He had served 16 years on the school board.

A representative of the Armstrong County Democratic Party could not be reached for comment.

Vaccaro, 32, said he has lived in Leechburg since August 2012. He had previously lived in Freeport, and grew up in Lower Burrell. He is an assistant professor of sociology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

He said several community members encouraged him to seek office, and the party approached him to replace Pascal.

Vaccaro said he did not run in the primary because he had not decided to seek office at that point.

“Even though I've never run for public office, I always had an interest in serving,” he said.

Vaccaro said he is promoting his campaign online. Being that he's relatively new in town, to get his name out he plans to canvass the borough in late October and appear at community group meetings.

“I think I'm running for the right reasons,” he said.

Vaccaro said he has skills that would benefit the borough, including in grant writing.

“I chose Leechburg as my home because I saw its potential. It's a beautiful little community with a nice Market Street and some nice parks and green spaces. It's a diamond in the rough.

“I think sitting as a member of town council I'd be in a position to promote the town to attract people to the community to highlight the community's assets, which I think there are many,” he said.

The other Democratic candidates for council are incumbents Nancy Bono and Paul Simon. Republican candidates are incumbent James Spiering, Sheran Kupas and Lorri Bazella.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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