Political landscape shifting in Plum
Four years ago, Republicans in Plum swept into office claiming super majorities on both borough council and school board.
Republicans in last Tuesday's general election maintained control of both panels but by a slimmer margin.
The 7-2 Republican super majority on the Plum School Board is set to decrease to 5-4 next month with the defeat of board President Andrew Drake and newcomer Jim Rogers, both Republicans.
Democrat challengers Michele Gallagher and Michelle Stepnick were successful in their bids for election. Former school district public-relations director Dawn Check, also a Democrat, who ran on a ticket with Gallagher and Stepnick, was defeated.
Also, the 5-2 super majority on borough council in January is poised to dwindle to 4-3 with the defeat of Dave Seitz who took the place of incumbent Keith Nowalk on the ballot. Nowalk did not seek re-election.
Former Councilman Dave Vento, a Democrat, was elected, along with the three incumbents — Michael Dell, Mike Doyle and Leonard Szarmach.
The results are unofficial, pending certification by the Allegheny County Division of Elections.
“I am happy we maintained majorities on both school board and council,” said Dave Majernik, former Plum Borough Republican Committee chairman. “But I'm sorry we lost some ground.”
Majernik said Gallagher's and Stepnick's campaign approach worked.
“Basically, they ran an emotional campaign with the mother perspective,” Majernik said.
Gallagher has three sons in the district. Stepnick's son is a toddler.
Gallagher said she isn't worried about the fact that the Democrats remain in the minority on the board. Gallagher predicts board members will work together, regardless of party.
“I'm not afraid of the 5-4 (ratio of Republicans to Democrats),” Gallagher said. “I will try to be respectful to everyone,” Gallagher said. “I think there are some strong individuals (on the board) who think independently.”
Gallagher said the board has much to do, including contract negotiations and overseeing the construction of the new Holiday Park Elementary School.
“I am here to offer fresh, open eyes and be objective to everything,” Gallagher said. “I find compromise and balance beneficial to all involved — the students, taxpayers and employees.”
Vento, who will join fellow Democrats Don Knopfel and Steve “Skip” Taylor on borough council, also doesn't plan to let the minority status stand in the way of what he thinks is best for Plum.
“If it is not right for Plum Borough, I will be the most vocal on Plum Council,” Vento said. “I will do what is best for the community. That is my mandate.”
Majernik sees some lessons learned from the fall campaign, and he intends to change some strategies in the future in an attempt to maintain the Republican majorities.
“We need to get some women candidates who are qualified,” Majernik said. “We have not found anyone stepping forward.”
Majernik said the GOP in Plum also must develop different campaign strategies.
“We need new ways to campaign and present our ideas,” Majernik said. “Republicans are more interested in issues. Democrats are more interested in promotion. We have to hone our promotional skills better.”
Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- With tax increase looming, Plum School Board takes a swipe at cutting expenses
- Plum budget holds taxes, but adds ‘flood mitigation fee’
- Plum Boy Scout troop has decorated VA trees for a decade
- A vision for Sugar Plum Days: Support efforts launched for 2015 return throughout Plum
- Plum Council OKs budget with no tax increase