Plum mayor hopefuls make their case for primary

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Three Republicans with varying degrees of political experience want to be Plum's next mayor.

Former Plum Borough Republican Committee Chairman Dave Majernik, former Councilwoman Christine Scardina-Gazzo and Plum School Board member Joe Tommarello are seeking the Republican nomination for mayor in the May 21 primary.

The Republican nominee will go up against Richard Hrivnak, a Democrat who has been mayor since 2006.

The four-year term runs from January 2014 through December 2017.

Majernik also is seeking the Republican nomination for the Allegheny Council District 8 seat currently held by Democrat Charles Martoni. Majernik, who would not be permitted to serve in both capacities, said if he won both seats, he would choose the mayor's position.

“I feel I am a hard-working, dedicated person who would do a good job,” said Majernik, who last week won the Plum Borough Republican Committee's endorsement.

The mayor's primary job is to oversee the operation of the police department, and Majernik said he would not propose any new initiatives there.

Majernik said he also would focus on bringing more businesses to Plum and would push for state funds to widen Route 286.

“We need to encourage more business development in Plum and take the burden off residential taxpayers,” Majernik said.

Majernik said he also would advocate for other upgrades to Plum's infrastructure and roads.

Majernik said he is “middle of the road” with respect to support of the “town-center” concept suggested for the borough property in Renton.

A new public-works facility is scheduled to be in operation in June. Officials have proposed building a municipal complex at the site, as well. A feasibility study is under way.

Scardina-Gazzo said she is a strong supporter of the town-center concept that would include development of the current borough building site on New Texas Road into a commercial use. A feasibility study advised that a grocery store would be profitable at the site.

“It would be a wonderful boon to the community,” Scardina-Gazzo said.

Scardina-Gazzo also said as mayor, she would be visible in the community.

“There has been a lot of talk about how the mayor (Hrivnak) has not been visible,” Scardina-Gazzo said. “It's the mayor's job to be the biggest advocate for the borough.”

Scardina-Gazzo said Plum's ranking by Neighborhood Scout, a neighborhood search engine designed for home buyers and movers, as sixth in the top 100 safest cities in America, should be attracting businesses to the borough.

“We should be turning people away,” Scardina-Gazzo said. “People still don't know where Plum is.”

Hrivnak, who also is a proponent of the town-center concept, countered that he attends a multitude of ribbon cuttings, charity functions and other events in Plum. Hrivnak said he also reads to students at Plum schools each year.

Hrivnak recently instructed borough officials to publicize Plum's ranking on borough stationery, signs and banners throughout the borough. He also wants council's economic development committee to take the message and run with it.

Scardina-Gazzo also supports police-department initiatives including the school resource officer program and the drug-abuse-education program DARE in Plum schools.

Like Majernik, Scardina-Gazzo said she would push for widening Route 286 to encourage further business development along the corridor.

“We need to court businesses,” Scardina-Gazzo said.

Tommarello, believed to be the youngest person elected to the Plum School Board, said thinks his youth would be an asset.

“I would be a leader our borough needs,” Tommarello said. “I would hype up the name of Plum and put Plum on the map.”

Tommarello said he would concentrate on making Plum an attractive place for both residents and businesses to move.

“I would advertise the pros of Plum,” Tommarello said.

Tommarello said he also would work to decrease the tax rate to attract businesses.

On the public safety side, Tommarello would push for neighborhood watches and “come down harder on the rising number of drugs and drug users in Plum.”

He also would establish a tip line for citizens to call to report crimes.

Tommarello said he would expand the police presence in schools beyond the school resource officer and DARE programs.

“I am the most different (candidate), and my age is a huge benefit,” Tommarello said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753 or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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