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W. Mifflin voters have a plethora of candidates

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Thursday, May 16, 2013, 3:51 a.m.
 

Democrats and Republicans in West Mifflin will choose from a full slate of candidates when they head to the polls on Tuesday.

For mayor, two Democrats and one Republican are vying for their respective party's nomination.

For four open seats on council, there are 13 Democratic candidates and two in the Republican race.

Republicans John Koczka and Jay Goonetilleke are running for nomination for tax collector, while incumbent Democrat Richard A. Allen is unopposed.

Incumbent Mayor Chris Kelly is facing a challenge in the Democratic primary from Frank Stupar Jr., who, like Kelly, is a retired Baldwin police officer.

Both are quick to profess their respect for each other and give high priority to supporting the police and fire departments.

Kelly, who was elected mayor four years ago, said voters should keep in mind his experience, especially where the budget is concerned, when they head to the polls.

“I originally ran as a one-term candidate,” Kelly said. “But there are things that remain undone.”

That includes seeing the completion of the long awaited municipal soccer complex at the old LaFarge North America property off Buttermilk Hollow Road. The complex has been in the plans for about 20 years and has seen delays related to environmental permitting and property issues.

“The deed is being transferred,” said Kelly, noting the borough obtained a $154,000 grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to develop the site during his earliest days in office. “We're ready to stake the ground and get moving very quickly.”

Kelly said he wants to continue working to bring commercial businesses back to the borough and re-establish regular road paving.

The mayor said the borough ended last year with a budget surplus and has increased senior programs while he has been in office.

He said borough meetings have become more professional in nature since he's taken office.

“We all have respect for each other even if we disagree,” he said. “There is no name-calling.”

Stupar said he sees the primary not as a race against the current mayor, but as an opportunity to continue on a career path dedicated to public service.

“This is the next step for me,” said Stupar, who serves on the borough's pension review board and worked as a job coach for the disabled when he retired from police work.

Stupar said he is following in the footsteps of his father, Frank Sr., who served two terms on council and is helping with his run in the primary.

“I've lived in West Mifflin all my life and have an understanding of the community,” said Stupar, who has an associate's degree from what is now Penn State Greater Allegheny and a bachelor's degree in business administration from Robert Morris University.

Stupar, like his opponent, puts a high priority on maintaining public safety through support of police and fire departments.

He said the borough has to do more to bring businesses back to vacated retail properties.

“We have to draw the business community back in,” Stupar said.

On the Republican ballot, Koczka is running unopposed for mayor in addition to his bid for tax collector. He's also running for a spot on the fall ballot for council.

Republican Goonetilleke is running for council as well as for tax collector, .

Other Democratic council candidates are Dan Davis, Joyce Steiner Kushner, Ronald Babbie, Nikki Lynn Thielet, William Bennett Jr., Scott Stephenson, C.L. Jabbour, Michael Olack, former state representative Kenneth Ruffing, Scott Santoro and Timothy Eads.

An eight-way race is taking place for four seats on the fall ballot for West Mifflin Area school board. The incumbents are Phil Shar, Nicholas Alexandroff, Theodore Cale and Michael Price. The challengers are Gina Caito, David Marshall, David Parkinson and Erin O'Leary White. All are cross registered with both parties.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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