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Apollo: Held wins mayor's job; Heffernan loses twice

| Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, 10:15 p.m.

Apollo has a new mayor in Jeff Held as council moves forward without longtime member David Heffernan, according to unofficial results of Tuesday's election.

Heffernan lost a five-candidate race to fill four seats, each carrying four-year terms, and a three-candidate race to fill two, two-year terms.

The defeat concludes a 12-year tenure for the Republican, who formerly was council president.

Democrat incumbents Cindee Virostek and Dennis Gabrielli won seats on both the four-year and two-year term ballots.

They'll each relinquish one of the seats in December. Council will then appoint applicants to fill the two open seats.

Democratic challenger Cheryl Swank won her first run for elective office with 149 votes, bested only by Virostek's 153.

Incumbent Mark Greenawalt, also a Democrat, retained his seat with 117 votes.

Held, the Democratic challenger for mayor, beat incumbent Republican Karen Kenzevich with 123 votes. Kenzevich garnered 85 votes.

A first-time office holder, Held said Tuesday's election results reflect the residents' frustration with Apollo's “nowhere politics” of recent years.

“People are disenchanted with the previous policies of council and they showed it with their votes,” he said. “We all wanted change so we can move the town forward and make some real progress for the borough's 200th anniversary in 2016.”

Held's first order of business as mayor will be to establish a rapport with county officials and government agencies to bring new grants and projects to Apollo.

Kenzevich could not be reached for comment.

Heffernan said his own defeat came as no surprise.

“It just seemed like none of the town's Republicans came out to vote,” he said. “I like to think I did everything I could for this town.”

Heffernan fell 35 votes short for the four-year ballot and 58 shy of securing a two-year term.

“Maybe (voters) wanted to go in another direction,” he said. “What that is, I don't know.”

Swank has an idea.

She said her platform of raising property values and cleaning up Apollo's riverfront land before development resonated well with residents.

“Today was an important day for Apollo,” she said. “My campaign slogan was ‘Onward and Upward.' After today, I feel like that's where we're going.”

Greenawalt declined to comment on his re-election.

Gabrielli said he's looking forward to working for the borough with a different lineup on council.

“We'll have some new faces at the meetings,” he said. “Hopefully, we'll be able to get past the negativity we've seen in recent years and do some real good for the borough.”

Gabrielli has yet to decide which council seat he'll relinquish next month.

Virostek said she will hold on to the four-year term.

It will add to the Democrat's 13 years of council experience. Virostek served on Apollo Council from 1989 to 2001 and then was reappointed in 2012 after a 12-year hiatus.

In all her years on council, Virostek said she's hardly ever been as surprised as she was at her re-election Tuesday.

“With all the hostility directed my way on social media, I really didn't think I'd win,” she said. “But I'm a positive person and I'm glad I did. I think the people who turned out are ready for a positive change, and they saw that in me.”

Council will appoint applicants in December or January to fill Virostek's two-year seat and one of the seats that Gabrielli won.

A potential applicant is Elizabeth Bradshaw, who accrued 50 total votes on Tuesday as a write-in candidate on both ballots.

Heffernan said he likely won't apply for the openings.

“Twelve years is a long time,” Heffernan said. “I think it's time to enjoy my retirement and see where Apollo heads without me.”

Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4673 or bashe@tribweb.com.

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