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Vandergrift's next mayor guaranteed to be a Democrat

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 12:21 a.m.
Barbara Turiak--Candidate for Vandergrift mayor
Louis Purificato--Vandergrift Mayor

Vandergrift Borough's next mayor will supervise the police department and work with council to complete an ongoing storm water sewer separation project.

Incumbent Louis Purificato, a Democrat, believes he has experience to get the best out of the police department. After all, he said, he spent 36 years as patrolman, lieutenant and later chief of the full-time department.

That's one reason for a change, said challenger Barbara J. Turiak, a Democrat who won the Republican primary in a write-in campaign. She is a retired teacher.

Purificato and Turiak are vying for the post that pays $600. Mileage isn't paid, said borough secretary Stephen J. DelleDonne. “It's public service, not to make money,” the secretary said.

Purificato said he supervises the police department, but decisions are made and most actions are taken by the chief, who is appointed by borough council.

“You have to delegate authority. I talk with the chief, but he sends the memos and takes action,” he said. The department of seven full-time and six part-time officers patrols in Vandergrift and East Vandergrift on a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week basis.

Turiak said she has “held union leadership jobs and has experience dealing with personnel” so she is “well aware of how to handle police department supervision.”

Purificato said police Chief Joseph Caporali “runs a good ship” and the department's crime clearance rate is very good.

Purificato said he hasn't recently received a complaint about officers. “We investigate any complaints and the last one I had involved an officer who was going through a divorce,” he said.

Turiak declined to address specifics until she is elected.

“If elected mayor, I will address everything,” she said.

Vandergrift's next mayor will work with council to see that all sewer improvements are accomplished.

The project's last phase will impact about 115 homes and businesses.

“The work has to be done,” Purificato said. He said a meeting will be held for citizens to ask questions about the last phase just as meetings were held for prior project phases. “People are concerned about the unknown. But if you tell them what will happen and answer questions, the concerns go away,” he said.

Turiak said she is researching the project and other borough responsibilities.

The borough is “taking on a lot,” Turiak points out.

Purificato said some grants have been obtained.

According to DelleDonne, the borough of about 5,200 is seeking about $8 million in PennVest loans and a grant of about $2 million.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com.

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