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Retired bus driver wins Deer Lakes seat; write-ins rule in Leechburg Area

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By Staff Report
Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, 2:16 a.m.

A mix of incumbents and newcomers will be joining school boards across the Alle-Kiski Valley.

According to unofficial election results early Wednesday, here is how some contested local races shaped up:

Deer Lakes

A retired Deer Lakes bus driver edged out a political newcomer who touted his business experience as an asset for the Deer Lakes School District.

In a five-way race for four seats, incumbents James McCaskey, Clara Salvi and Lisa Merlo were the top vote-getters with 1,215 votes for McCaskey, 1,171 for Salvi and 1,121 for Merlo.

In the race for the fourth seat, Democrat Phillip Ziendarski edged out Republican Louis Buck by 17 votes, 918 to 902.

Ziendarski retired from Deer Lakes in October 2012 after 35 years as a bus driver.


Political newcomer Kerry M. Myers, who won the Democratic and Republican nods in the primary, held off a challenge by independent Michelle Thompson-Peters in Region 3, the district's only contested race.

Myers, a registered Democrat, received 566 votes to Thompson-Peters' 463.

Myers, 45, of Harrison is a police officer in Allegheny Township who said he'd like to see the district address tax delinquencies.

Leechburg Area

Write-in votes appeared to play a large role in the race for four available school board seats, but it was not yet known for whom the ballots were cast.

A total of 924 write-in ballots were cast — which is more than the most votes received by any of the four candidates on the ballot.

Democrats Jean Stull, Kathryn Vargo, Terri Smith and Chuck Pascal were running unopposed on both ballots for the seats. Stull is an incumbent; the other three are former board members.


Four incumbents held off political newcomer Melissa Botta Havran to reclaim their board seats.

Lisa Ashbaugh led with 1,400 votes, followed by Arlene S. Loeffler with 1,367; John H. Hackworth, 1,250; Theodora Tompa, 983; and Havran, 654.

Hackworth, the board president, Ashbaugh and Loeffler appeared on both ballots; Tompa was listed as a Democrat and Havran a Republican.

The candidates agreed that budgetary issues are the district's most serious challenges.

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