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Quaker Valley board seats up for grabs in primary

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Voters in two of Quaker Valley's three regions will find contested races in the May 21 primary.

In Region I — which comprises Bell Acres Borough, Leet Township and Leetsdale Borough — four candidates are vying for one of two seats to be vacated by current board members Debbie Miller and Kay Wijekumar, whose terms expire at the end of the year.

Pennsylvania operates a closed primary, which means voters must be a member of a candidate's party to select that candidate. In most cases, school board candidates file in both parties for primary races.

The candidates are: Daniela Sauro Helkowski, of Leet; Jonathan Kuzma, of Leetsdale; P. Richard Warburton, of Leet; and David V. Weicht, of Leet.

Kuzma, 30, and a 2001 Quaker Valley graduate, said he wants to make a priority of “balancing the budget in a responsible way that takes into account the needs of the students without raising taxes.”

Kuzma, a real estate appraiser with Integra Realty Resources — Pittsburgh, has served on the Leetsdale Municipal Authority Board since 2009.

Warburton, 48, said he is a “believer in the value of education and the importance of a good school district to the entire community.”

Warburton, who, along with his wife Jenny, have two children in the district, called Quaker Valley “one of the best” school districts in the region, and said he would “work hard to push these standards even higher.”

He is the chief technology officer for ChemDAQ Inc., a Robinson-based manufacturer of gas detection monitors for workplace safety, and has not previously run for an elected position.

Weicht, 45, said the school board must be “fiscally responsible” while fulfilling its obligations of providing a “high quality education to all students in the district.”

Weicht, an attorney with Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl, said the school board should “should seek input from the community on major decisions, respect differences of opinion and strive to reach consensus when possible.”

Helkowski did not respond to a request for comment.

In Region III — comprised of Aleppo Township, Edgeworth Borough, Glenfield Borough, Haysville Borough, Glen Osborne Borough, Sewickley Heights Borough, Sewickley Hills Borough — two candidates will vie for one seat set to be vacated by board member Danielle Burnette.

The candidates are Robb D. Bunde, of Edgeworth, and Mary Ann Wagner, of Glen Osborne.

Bunde did not cross-file for the primary, according to the Allegheny County Elections Division.

Bunde, 48, is an attorney with Downtown-based law firm Bunde, Gillotti, Mulroy & Shultz, P.C., and has three children in the district.

Bunde said he wants to see the district continue to “thrive and provide an outstanding education for all students.”

“Education is crucial for success in today's society and an excellent school district can provide our children with a great foundation,” he said.

Wagner, 71, who previously served on the school board for 12 years and lost a re-election bid in 2009, said she is committed to “providing our students with the best education at a reasonable cost.”

Now retired, Wagner previously worked as a sales representative for L'Oreal Paris and U.S. Steel. She also was a credit analysis for U.S. Steel.

“My goal is to be involved in all things ‘financial' and keep millage low,” she said. “I will never vote for a tax increase.”

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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