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Longtime Shaler commissioner faces challenger in Ward 4

| Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:03 p.m.
Thomas McElhone
Thomas McElhone
Leah Kurz
Leah Kurz

Longtime Shaler Township Commissioner Thomas McElhone will face challenger Leah Kurz in the general election on Nov. 5.

McElhone, 69, a Democrat, has represented Shaler Township residents in Ward 4 since 1990 and is running for his seventh four-year term of office.

“I enjoy the work, and I enjoy the people,” McElhone said. “It gives you a good feeling to know you are doing something for the community.”

McElhone said one of his proudest accomplishments in the township was being the chairman of the personnel committee that was charged with finding and hiring township manager Tim Rogers in 1992.

McElhone has become involved in various advisory boards during his tenure.

He was appointed in 2010 to sit on the Local Government Advisory Committee; is a trustee and representative for first-class townships for the Pennsylvania Local Government Investment Trust, which manages funds for municipal governments, school boards and authorities in the state; and is the past president and a current member of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors.

However, McElhone said, he works to place his constituents first in handling problems or issues in the township.

“The people know they have someone they can go to when they have a problem,” he said.

“I think people are happy with low tax rate and the park system … last year the library won (the National Medal for Museums and Library Service) award. There are a lot of positive things in the township, and I'd like to continue that … and try to keep taxes as low as we can and provide the services they have come to expect.”

Kurz, 33, a Republican and a Shaler Area native, returned to Shaler Township in 2011 after retiring from the Marine Corps.

“I have always loved local government ever since I was in high school,” Kurz said. “Going into the military and 9/11 solidified my desire to serve other people. When I got out of the Marine Corps, I still had a desire to be connected to my community and help other people, and when I moved back to Shaler, I really wanted to be more involved in my community and address the issues that need to be addressed.”

Kurz has experience as a precinct committeewoman in San Diego County, Calif.; she wrote the immigration portion of the Oregon state Republican platform in 2012; and was part of the committee that voted on the platform as a whole.

Kurz said she is interested in supporting the businesses and residents along the Mt. Royal Boulevard corridor, if elected, and wants to become more involved in the community as the Ward 4 commissioner. She said she would like to promote the local businesses while still maintaining the residential feel of the community.

“I would like to find out what the residents feel is needed and find out what I can do as a commissioner,” she said. “I think we have a very safe community and people love living here.”

Since returning to Shaler Township, Kurz has helped to run her family's business, Lupi's Famous Pizza, in Ross Township, and is working to organize an annual volunteer day in Shaler and expanding her Oregon-based foundation to support single parents, Fruitful Foundations, into the Pittsburgh area.

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or

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