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Sharpsburg mayor facing challenge in bid to keep seat

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Richard Panza.

Sharpsburg Mayor Richard Panza will face a challenge from political newcomer Karen Iezzi in this month's primary election.

Both candidates are Democrats, and no Republicans have filed to run for the seat.

Barring a write-in winner on the Republican side, the primary winner likely will win a four-year term as mayor in November.

Panza, 76, is seeking his second term as mayor. He previously served on council. This is Iezzi's first run for political office. She previously owned Krazy Karen's bar in Sharpsburg.

Panza said he is proud of the grants the borough has received in recent years, including funding for security cameras and the handicap fishing pier.

“We've accomplished a lot in the last four years, I believe,” Panza said.

Iezzi, 37, said she thinks change is needed to improve the community. She said more positive interaction is needed between police officers and the community.

“I believe that if the police walked the beat and got to know the kids that they would have the respect of the kids when the kids get older,” Iezzi said.

While Iezzi said police need to do more to deal with crime and drugs in the community, Panza said he is happy with the progress that has been made.

The department has worked with Allegheny County and neighboring police departments on drug arrests.

“We're still working on it; it's an ongoing project,” Panza said.

If elected, Iezzi said, she also would like to see a cleaner Sharpsburg with graffiti removed and more things for children to do in town.

“I'd like to see all the storefronts open and successful,” Iezzi said.

Panza cited his work with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group that promotes tougher gun restrictions. He said Sharpsburg isn't alone in its fight against crime and drugs.

“We're minor compared to a lot of different communities,” Panza said.

Editor's note: Karen Iezzi did not provide a photograph and declined an opportunity to be photographed.

Tom McGee is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 1513 or tmcgee@tribweb.com.

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