Penn Township voters opt for Gwynn, Sullivan in commissioner races
Republicans will continue to hold all five Penn Township commissioner seats next year after voters last week favored the GOP candidate in two races.
Tim Gwynn claimed a big win over Marybeth Kuznik to represent the 4th Ward, while incumbent Commissioner Edward Sullivan appears to have won another close race over John Beech in the 2nd Ward, according to unofficial results reported last week by the Westmoreland County Election Bureau.
Beech, a former Democratic commissioner, essentially conceded in an interview last week. He said the 12-vote margin out of the 654 votes counted so far — less than 2 percentage points — is too wide to make up. County officials won't certify the results until they count any outstanding provisional, military or overseas absentee ballots in the race.
Sullivan, who is an engineer for a Pittsburgh firm, beat Beech two years ago by collecting 15 more votes among the 707 cast.
“The people in the 2nd Ward, as far as I'm concerned, are satisfied with Mr. Sullivan, and I wish him luck,” said Beech, 69, who was a commissioner from 1986 to 1992.
Beech attributed the loss to the failure by Democrats to go to the polls.
“It's just the way it is,” he said. “The Democrats don't come out.”
Sullivan, 51, said any Republican candidate running in the ward starts out with a disadvantage because its two precincts have a higher percentage of Democratic-registered voters than others in the township.
Appointed in December 2010, Sullivan will begin his first four-year term in January. Among the board's priorities will be hiring a new manager to replace the retiring Bruce Light, he said.
Sullivan said he doesn't expect the board to be planning any “drastic” changes.
“I think it's a very livable community, and I think we certainly want to keep it that way,” Sullivan said. “I just want to make sure, from my standpoint, that we're really being fiscally responsible.”
Gwynn took 68 percent of the vote in his race against Kuznik, a state Democratic committeewoman and local election judge.
Gwynn, 47, said he expects to be doing a lot of listening in his early months on the board because he hasn't had previous experience in township government. He has described himself as having conservative values but said he plans to have an open mind on issues. “My mind is going to go in, ‘Let's make the best decision for Penn Township,'” Gwynn said. “There's no Republican agenda. There's no Republican agenda.”