Unity Republican wins supervisor seat; other races detailed
Voters turned out last week to elect local officials including a Unity supervisor, council members in Latrobe and school board members in Ligonier Valley.
A few races ousted incumbents, while some offices trended toward Republican candidates. All results are unofficial until verified by the county election bureau.
Republican Tom Ulishney, who won the Unity supervisors race, said he knew he had to work hard to win over the township's registered Democrats, who outnumber Republicans by about 700 of the 14,548 total registered.
“My viewpoint on it was completely different” after going door-to-door, he said, noting the current supervisors, Republican Mike O'Barto and Democrat John Mylant, called to congratulate him on election night.
They both said they were glad to be working together to move the township “in the right direction,” Ulishney said.
Ulishney, owner of Westmoreland Landscaping, plans to give up the full-time roadmaster position once he takes office in January.
Both incumbents on Latrobe council, Democrats Richard Jim and Kenneth Baldonieri, were ousted in the race for the three open seats on the panel.
Republican Julie Bisi, Republican Trisha Caldwell Cravener and Democrat Gerald Baldonieri will take office for four-year terms in January.
Bisi said she spoke to Mayor-elect Rosie Wolford, who was unopposed, shortly after the election.
“I look forward to working with the whole team,” including City Manager Alex Graziani and the rest of the administrative staff, she said. “I think there's a lot of things we'll be able to do moving forward.”
Jim congratulated the winners and said he was happy with the work he did on council along with outgoing Councilman Kenneth Baldonieri.
“We did get into some forays,” Jim said, mentioning discussion about the city's trash transfer station and parking rates. “I think, all told, maybe it was good to bring those issues out.”
Kenneth Baldonieri said he wasn't surprised that he lost his bid for a third term, partially because of his support of Oxford House, a home for recovering addicts.
“I have no regrets, I stand on principle,” he said, adding that he plans to stay involved with the community, possible through the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program.
In Derry Township, Republican Jim Prohaska said as a newcomer he knew he had to talk with voters face-to-face.
“I did a lot of street-beating,” he said. “I did a lot of walking, a lot of talking and I met a lot of people I didn't know before.”
Prohaska edged incumbent Democrat Dan Rullo by 97 votes for one six-year term as supervisor.
“It was a little iffy there for a while, but we came through,” he said. “We were just glad it was over. It's been a long, hard road.”
Rullo was seeking a second term after defeating Republican Brian Edmiston in 2007, while Prohaska was running for the first time.
The board of supervisors remains Democrat-controlled, as Chairman Vince DeCario and Vice Chairman David Slifka are Democrats.
Rullo and Prohaska cited promoting business development in the township as a key issue during their campaigns.
Rullo serves as roadmaster for the township's District 3, or Route 22 corridor. Prohaska said he expects that district will be his responsibility once he's sworn in at the board's January meeting.
DeCario said he has known Prohaska for 20 years.
“We get our job done, that's what we're here for,” DeCario said. “We put everything else aside and take care of the township.”
Two more Ligonier Township supervisor terms will be up for grabs in next year's election cycle, as the majority of voters approved a ballot referendum asking if the board should expand.
The referendum got approval from 57 percent of voters and was spearheaded by the Brighter Future Political Action Committee, a group of residents who gathered more than 400 signatures during the summer so the question could be placed on the ballot.
The committee said the addition of two supervisors would improve governance and oversight of township operations.
According to Pennyslvania's Second Class Township Code, a board of supervisors may consist of three members — or five, if approved by electors.
Newly elected supervisors Scott Matson and Paul Knupp have said they approve of the expansion, while Supervisor Tim Komar said he felt it was not necessary at this time.
An additional three-year term and a five-year term will be filled in next year's election cycle.
Ligonier Valley School Board
Also on Election Day, Republicans Carolyn Shafer and Kim Dickert-Wallace and Democrat John Maier were chosen to continue to serve on the Ligonier Valley School Board, and Republican David Wilcox was been elected to join them in January.
They defeated challengers Carl Fabrizio and Barbara Boring, both Democrats, and Republican Edward Sutter in the race for the four, four-year terms.
Unopposed candidate JoAnn Thistlethwaite claimed the two-year term. Thistlethwaite and the four winning candidates were endorsed by the Valley Education Political Action Committee.
Some of the goals the four candidates cited as part of their election platforms included connecting with the community, promoting communication between the board and public and uniting all corners of the district.
Staff writers Stacey Federoff, Nicole Chynoweth and Greg Reinbold contributed to this story.