Absentee-ballot results push Eccles to win in O'Hara
Political newcomer Cassie Eccles went to bed on election night thinking she had lost her bid for O'Hara Council by just two votes.
It wasn't until halfway through the next morning that the Democrat and Falconhurst resident, 52, learned she beat Republican incumbent Alan Templin and won a four-year term to represent Ward 5.
“I called my mom, and she said ‘Congratulations!” Eccles said. “I was confused. I thought I had lost, and now, the results had me winning.”
According to unofficial results from the Allegheny County Department of Elections, Eccles earned 173 votes over Templin's 166.
Overnight, the absentee ballots cast earlier were added to her total and bumped Eccles to a narrow seven-vote victory.
“It was so, so close,” said Eccles, who said she felt it was her time to give back to the community she has called home for 20 years. “My emotions were going up and down.”
Templin did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Other races for O'Hara Council were uncontested.
The winners were Chuck Vogel in Ward 1, Mark Rothert in Ward 2, Scott Frankowski in Ward 3 and Allison Garcia in Ward 4.
Eccles, who earned a bachelor's degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, works as a stagehand for Pittsburgh cultural events. Her daughter attends O'Hara Elementary School.
“I don't really have any complaints about the township,” she said. “I just wanted to see if I can make a difference.”
There are at least two issues on her mind, however, that she'll bring to council's attention in her first few months on board.
Her residential development off Powers Run Road only has one entrance/exit.
Council previously considered acquiring land at the rear of the complex and creating a cut into the adjoining property in RIDC Park, but that plan never materialized.
“I've been here when a tree has come down at the beginning of our plan, and there's no other way out,” she said.
Eccles also plans to push for stricter enforcement speed limits in the housing development and plans to ask council to consider the idea of installing speed bumps throughout.
“I want this to be a safe place for kids and for senior citizens,” said Eccles, adding that she supports the proposed $7 million community center that will be built just a short distance from her home.
“That is our gem,” she said. “I was sad that the library went away because it was so close, also. The community center can't go away, too.”
Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.