Election accentuates the local
Local elections will be in the spotlight when voters go to the polls on Tuesday.
In addition to local races for borough councils, township supervisors and school boards, voters will cast ballots to retain two state Supreme Court justices and two Superior Court judges, and elect a new member of the state Supreme Court in this year's municipal election.
County offices up for election this year include Common Pleas court judges, district attorneys, sheriffs and coroners.
Voting locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Turnout is expected to be low, with elections officials estimating only 15 to 30 percent of registered voters will cast ballots.
“There are many important offices on the ballot this fall, and I encourage everyone legally entitled to vote to cast a ballot,” Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele said.
“People we will elect this fall will preside over our local courts, prosecute those who commit crimes and decide the level of police and fire protection in our neighborhoods, play important roles in the education our children receive in our neighborhood schools and set the municipal and school property tax rates we pay,” she said.
Voters will be asked to show photo identification, but it will not be required to vote. Those voting for the first time in a polling place will be required to present a form of identification.
Highlights of contested Alle-Kiski Valley races:
Two county council races are of interest in the valley.
Ed Kress, a Republican from Shaler, and Democrat Mary Gibson of Indiana Township are running for council in District 3, which includes Aspinwall, Fox Chapel, Indiana, O'Hara, Sharpsburg and West Deer. Councilman Jim Burn is not seeking re-election.
For District 8, which includes Plum, incumbent Democrat Charles Martoni faces Republican David Majernik. Majernik is also running for Plum mayor against Democrat incumbent Mayor Richard Hrivnak.
For sheriff, incumbent William Mullen, a Democrat, is running against Mike Zitelli, a Constitution Party candidate from Bridgeville.
For Plum Council, four Democrats and four Republicans are vying for four seats.
The candidates are incumbents Michael Dell, Mike Doyle and Leonard Szarmach, who are running with newcomer David Seitz, all Republicans. They are in a race with former councilmen Paul Dern and Dave Vento, who are on a ticket with first-time candidates Ron Gancas and Michael Guida, all Democrats.
In Oakmont, voters have a full slate of council candidates from which to choose.
With four seats up for grabs, incumbents Laurie Saxon, Timothy Milberger, and newcomers Jerome Kenna and Melissa Botta Havran, who also is running for a Riverview school board seat, are the Republicans on the ballot. They are matched against Democrats Thomas Whalen, Sophia Facaros, Patricia Friday and Thomas Briney, who is currently filling an unexpired term on council.
In the race for Armstrong County coroner, the candidates are Republican Brian Myers, an Armstrong County deputy coroner, and Democrat Roy Morrison, a salesman with a background in AIDS/HIV activism.
For sheriff, voters will choose between Democrat Bill Rupert and Republican Chris Sweeney, who are vying to fill the office vacated by Sheriff Larry Crawford, who is retiring.
In Apollo, Mayor Karen Kenzevich is being challenged for re-election by Democrat Jeff Held.
For Apollo council, five candidates are vying for six of the council's seven seats.
For two two-year terms, the candidates are incumbents Dennis Gabrielli, Democrat, David Heffernan Sr., Republican, and Cindee Virostek, Democrat. They are also running for four four-year terms, along with Democrats Mark Greenawalt, an incumbent, and newcomer Cheryl Swank.
In Leechburg, three Democrats and three Republicans are vying for four seats. Incumbent candidates are Nancy Bono and G. Paul Simon, both Democrats, and Republican James Spiering. Newcomers include Christian Vaccaro, a Democrat the party placed on the ballot to replace Chuck Pascal, who withdrew in favor of running for Leechburg Area school board; and Republicans Lorrie Bazella and Sheran Kupas.
In Clinton Township, Democrat Leroy F. Zacherl is facing Republican Kathy Allen for the seat held by Zacherl's wife, Mary.
Former Jefferson Supervisor Leo John Cypher, a Republican, is running against Democrat John Fulmer for a supervisor seat being vacated by Russ Kiley.
Four Republicans and one Democrat are vying for four seats on Saxonburg Council. The candidates are incumbents Donald Crawford, William Gillespie Jr., and James Stanek, all Republicans, and incumbent David Felsing, a Democrat. The fifth candidate is Joshua Novotny, a Republican.
Saxonburg Mayor Jody Pflueger, a Democrat, appears on the ballot, but is dropping her bid for re-election because she is moving out of the borough. That in essence leaves Councilwoman Pamela Bauman, a Republican, unopposed for mayor.
There are contested races at the county level for clerk of courts, coroner, district attorney and prothonotary.
Coroner Ken Bacha, a three-term incumbent, is being challenged by Republican F. Christopher O'Leath, a former deputy coroner.
Peter Borghetti, a Republican, is challenging long-time District Attorney John Peck, a Democrat.
In Vandergrift, a write-in campaigns produced a contested election for mayor, and an unusual situation in an otherwise uncontested council race.
Mayor Louis Purificato, a Democrat and former police officer, is being challenged by Barbara J. Turiak, a retired teacher and Democrat who won the Republican primary in a write-in campaign.
While the race for Vandergrift Council is uncontested, with four candidates for four seats, the election will be slightly different this year.
Voters in Vandergrift will use paper ballots along with voting machines. The paper ballots are being used to correct the omission of Councilman Brian Carricato, a Democrat, from the ballot.
Only Carricato's name will appear on the paper ballots, under a ruling from Westmoreland County Judge Gary P. Caruso.
Appearing on the voting machines will be incumbent Democrats Lenny Collini, Frank Moliterno and Christine A. Wilson.
Carricato mounted a write-in campaign in the primary, winning both the Democratic and Republican nominations. The county Election Bureau sent paperwork to the wrong address, which Carricato never received, resulting in his name not appearing on the ballot. It was too late for the machines to be changed.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or firstname.lastname@example.org.