Mayor's ballot in Carnegie has two candidates so far
Another mayoral race appears to be shaping up in Carnegie.
With the May 21 primary more than two months away and the general election about eight months down the road, two people have announced their candidacy for the position.
Incumbent Jack Kobistek, who beat Tom Snyder in November 2009, plans to run again as an Independent. This time, he'll be opposed by Mike Sarsfield, who is in his second term as a member of Carnegie Borough Council.
Sarsfield's petition will be due to the Allegheny County Board of Elections by March 12, while Kobistek faces an Aug. 1 deadline if he chooses to run as an Independent once again.
Here's a look at the two candidates as the race gets under way:
As a virtual newcomer to Carnegie politics four years ago, Kobistek garnered 56.87 percent of the vote. He believes he has the community's support in his most recent candidacy.
“The feedback I've been getting since (Sarsfield) said he was going to run has been extremely positive (toward me),” said Kobistek, 50. “The residents seem to be supporting me. I'm just going to continue to work hard and do the things I need to do in the community. I'm not going to focus on the negative stuff.”
When he ran four years ago, Kobistek said he hoped to work well with council, business owners, residents and other borough officials.
The relationship with council hasn't gone as well as he hoped.
“There are a few individuals on council that consistently place political agendas over the needs of the community,” he said. “There are far too many issues that still need to be addressed in this community, and that's where we need to focus our energies. That's where I'll continue to focus my energies.”
He remains concerned about flooding in the borough and what he calls mounting debt in the borough. In the near future, he hopes to address the safety of trucks moving through the borough and make a dent in the “war on drugs” by increasing the number of sweeps and impact details.
Kobistek, who oversees the police force, said he increased foot patrols in prominent areas, scheduled the K-9 officer to work peak periods, began evicting problem residents with a three-strike rule and worked to strengthen the relationship between the police department and Carnegie Elementary.
Additionally, he said he led the charge to revitalize Carnegie by bringing in businesses and growth opportunities like a planned skate park, worked with numerous community organizations and addressed flooding problems in the Lexington Court area.
“I've been out there championing all those causes, working diligently on all those causes,” he said.
Sarsfield's first elected position, as a member of the Carnegie Democratic Committee, came by the slimmest of margins.
“I won by one vote,” said Sarsfield, 48. “So needless to say, I understand the importance of every single vote counted.”
Sarsfield, a lifelong resident of Carnegie, said he has been involved in community affairs, both as a volunteer and as an elected official, for most of his life. He was a longtime volunteer for events like the Arts & Heritage Festival and Light-Up Night.
In addition, he served two terms as constable in Carnegie before being elected to borough council in 2007 for his first term. He was re-elected in 2011.
Sarsfield said that background of community service helped him garner endorsements from not only the Carnegie Democratic Committee but also county officials such as Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Sheriff Bill Mullen and Treasurer John Weinstein.
“I understand the importance of working with people, both our council and leaders at every branch of government, from our county leaders, to our state leaders, to our national leaders,” he said.
If elected, Sarsfield said he would like to address problems at Carnegie Towers by working with Fitzgerald to get the children at Carnegie Towers and underprivileged children across the community into the Head Start program.
He would also like to start programs for young mothers and curb violence against women.
Sarsfield emphasized his strongest quality is his ability to work with people. When he was first elected to council, he said he worked with the Republicans on council to reduce taxes, pave roads and complete a bond issue.
He believes that experience in working with others makes him a better choice for mayor, given Kobistek's at-times tumultuous relationship with Carnegie Borough Council.
“We've done good as far as maintaining a good public image in getting along with the mayor,” he said. “And we continue desperately to try to work with the mayor. I think Jack, personally, is a nice guy, and I think he has a lot of good intentions. ... (But) we need a mayor who isn't a full-time babysitter but is a partner with us.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or email@example.com.