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Tedesco resigns McKeesport council to accept director post

| Tuesday, July 9, 2013, 4:41 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko, left, welcomes former Councilman A.J. Tedesco to the city's administration as community development director. \
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Jamie Brewster-Filotei is supported by family, including her husband Ken Filotei and children Nina and T.J., as she is congratulated for taking part in her first meeting as a McKeesport councilwoman.

A.J. Tedesco resigned from McKeesport council on Monday to become the city's full-time community development director.

Jamie Brewster-Filotei, who was the leading vote-getter in May's Democratic council primary with 1,193, was appointed to serve the remaining five months of Tedesco's term.

Council accepted Tedesco's resignation and approved his appointment at a special session.

Tedesco replaces Bethany Bauer, who accepted an early retirement offer.

Mayor Michael Cherepko and Tedesco, who ran against each other in the 2011 Democratic mayoral primary, said they are putting aside their differences to bring new hope to their hometown.

Cherepko said the “vindictiveness and arrogance” that often come with losing or winning an election have no place in local government. When he took office in January 2012, the mayor vowed to work with council, despite potential differences of opinion, as long as everyone had the city's best interest at heart.

“It's not just a slogan. It's not just a motto,” Cherepko said. “It's an invitation of working together for a better McKeesport.”

Tedesco said that always has been his goal. He said he believes he made positive strides during his 42 months on council, and that taking a full-time role as community development director will give him the chance to do more good.

“I believe the mayor and I are sending a positive message to this city,” Tedesco said. “Political feuds in the Mon Valley have always tended to be for life. This benefits no one. We are able to now show that two Mon Valley politicians can put their previous disputes aside to join together for a greater common good.”

Brewster-Filotei will remain on the ballot for November's general election in her bid to win a full term.

McKeesport Democratic Committee will appoint a ballot replacement for Tedesco, who won re-nomination in May with 981 votes.

Incumbent V. Fawn Walker-Montgomery, who got 826 votes in May, also is on the ballot.

The committee could chose a replacement from among unsuccessful primary candidates Jim Barry (822 votes), LaWana Simmons (733), Patrick Chiaverini (561), and Arla Payne-Stinson (422).

“I've had the opportunity to teach with Jamie and play ball with Jamie and her sisters when I was a young kid,” Cherepko said. “You talk about a tremendous asset to this city and (McKeesport Area) school district. I've seen her as a mentor in the classroom and on the field. Now she wants to help out and be part of something very special as we take this city into the future.”

Cherepko said he is confident that Brewster-Filotei and the other councilors have the ability to move the city forward.

“The obstacles we face here in the city of McKeesport and throughout the entire Mon Valley are extremely challenging,” Cherepko said. “The bickering, the in-fighting, the controversy — it does nothing to help promote this city. In fact, it does quite the opposite. It holds us back.”

State Sen. James R. Brewster, who was subject to political disputes during his time on council and as mayor, said conflict in local government is a deterrent.

“Now is the time for unity. Individual agendas will only add to our problems,” Brewster said. “It's important to get past the stigma of chronic naysayers who say people are going to just be yes men for the mayor. The fact is that state government and federal government are looking for unity. They're looking for a team. When they invest money in our communities, they want to know it's going to be used correctly. When they see splits and divides, it sends a poor message to the mother house.”

Brewster said Monday night's “changing of the guards” will bring harmony to city government.

“Harmony will bring unity,” he said. “And when you have unity, you can get problems solved.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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