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Primary election preview: Sewickley Township supervisor

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

One Sewickley Township supervisor seat is open for the primary election on May 21. As the township decides how to spend money allocated by the state from drilling impact fees, also known as Act 13, a committee was formed to explore options for renovating the recreation center on Highland Avenue. Supervisors created a township manager position and reduced the full-time roadmaster to a part-time public works director. Supervisors also voted for the Sewickley Township Community Ambulance Service to vacate its 1 Medic St. building by May 31 in a decision regarding the organization's finances. Three candidates, including two Democrats and one Republican, have joined the race for the office, including one incumbent and two challengers for the six-year term.

John Costanza, 67, is a Democrat running for supervisor after serving in the role for 12 years. He is single and has owned a barber shop in Herminie since 1965. Costanza has served as a member of the Municipal Sewage Authority of the Township of Sewickley for four years. He said although he served as roadmaster during his previous stint as supervisor, he does not plan to re-establish that position. Instead, Costanza said he hopes to aid the new public works director in maximizing efficiency. “I'll help give him advice, but I don't want to do his job,” Costanza said. “I know every street in this community.” Costanza said his previous experience has also fostered good relationships with officials on the local, state and federal levels. He also supports the Sewickley Township Community Ambulance Service “as I helped give them their first home at 401 Sewickley Ave. in the 1970s,” he said. As a supervisor, Costanza said he would give attention to and try to resolve any concerns from residents “and working with the other supervisors to help solve them.”

Joe Kerber, 60, is a Democrat running for supervisor after serving in the position since 2008. He has run his 52-acre dairy farm since 1974 and has worked construction for 18 years. He and his wife Kathy have four adult children. Kerber served as roadmaster for three years and took office as supervisor Jan. 2008. “A supervisor's job, in my opinion, is to try to manage with the resources you have and that's the tax dollars,” he said. As roadmaster, Kerber said he was particularly proud of overseeing the road crew lay 9,000 tons of asphalt in one season. He said he regularly contributes donations to each of the township fire departments and was glad as supervisor to help the Lowber Volunteer Fire Department construct a new garage after the previous one was damaged. He said he fully supports the Sewickley Township Community Ambulance Service and hopes to keep them in the area. If re-elected, he said he hopes to continue to make decisions that are best for residents. “I try to put some common sense into my vote,” he said.

Jonathan Turik, 47, is a Republican running for supervisor for the first time. He is a self-employed electrician as owner of Turik's Electric. He and his wife Kelly have two adult children. After serving in the U.S. Army for eight years, he became a lifetime member of AMVETS and is also a member of the Herminie Volunteer Fire Department. Turik served as president of the Sewickley Athletic Association for 10 years and has also been a member of the Sewickley Township Recreation Board and Yough Area Midget Football board. “My goal is to work with the business community,” he said. In order to attract more residents and retain young people in the community, more commercial goods and services need to be available and more industrial businesses could help create jobs, Turik said. He is in favor of the changes being explored for the recreation center. “That place is more full now than it's ever been,” Turik said. “It's a good viable thing for the community.” He said he is in favor of continuing with a part-time public works director, rather than taking on the roadmaster role if elected.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at sfederoff@tribweb.com or 724-836-6660.

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