South Connellsville mayor faces opposition from councilman
Longtime South Connellsville Mayor Peter Casini is being challenged for the Democratic nomination for his seat in the May 19 primary by curren South Connellsville Councilman L. Guy Napolillo.
Napolillo, who is finishing his second term on council, said he thinks it's time for change in the borough. He said it's time things are done a little differently.
"Council is good at working together," Napolillo said. "But I think it's time we start moving in a different direction."
Napolillo feels the mayor should be a point of contact for many of the projects that occur in the borough. The mayor should direct calls and issues to the correct person who can handle those issues, Napolillo said.
In small boroughs such as South Connellsville, a mayor does not vote on issues. However, the mayor is in charge of the police department.
South Connellsville has two full-time police officers and two part-time officers.
"It's been a goal since I've been on council to try to provide 24-hour police protection. But it's hard to do. We need to look to make sure we have police officers on duty during the most desirable times," said Napolillo, noting that the borough's police budget is tight.
He said at one time the borough had an agreement with Connellsville Township that the borough provide police protection there. He said in some areas the regional police force concept has worked and maybe that concept could be studied locally.
"The mayor doesn't have a lot of power," Napolillo said. "It's just a matter of working with council to get the jobs done that need to be done."
Napolillo said the mayor needs to reach out and work to get grants available through the state and federal governments.
Napolillo is the Fayette County 911 coordinator, a position he has held since 1992. He is also the operations chief of the HAZMAT team and member of the local emergency planning committee for Fayette County.
Casini has been the mayor of South Connellsville for 20 years.
He said during his terms he has helped the borough to hold the line on taxes and has brought in several grants, the latest one being for about $700,000.
"And that happened by just sitting down and talking to Gov. Ed Rendell face to face," Casini said.
Casini said he recently submitted a grant through the COPS program in hopes of getting funds to maintain 24-hour police protection in the borough.
Prior to being elected mayor, Casini served as police chief in the borough for 15 years. He said because of that he knows how the department operates. He also supports Police Chief Mike Helms and the officers. Casini said he worked with Helms when he was on the force.
Casini said one of the most important projects in the borough is to see the former Anchor Glass factory occupied.
"I've never given up. I talk to state and federal legislators once a month," Casini said. "And I'm telling you, it's going to happen."
Casini said when the factory closed its doors several years ago, the borough's tax base dropped.
"And then they got their assessment lowered through the county and that hurt us as well," said Casini, who has been employed for 46 years at Crown Cork and Seal in South Connellsville as a department manager.
Few other races exist for Fayette County boroughs in the primary:
Three seats are open for four-year terms on Dawson Council. Only three names appear on the ballot -- Democrats Phyllis Newell, John Nudo and Patricia Lint.
John C. Williams is seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor while Ron Gross is seeking the Republican nomination. They will face off in the fall.
On council, four seats are open with four candidates vying -- Democrats Robert Bob Opst, William Watson, Peggy Zadell and Republican Ron Gross.
Tammy L. Nedrow is the only candidate for tax collector. Dennis Heath Jr. is the only candidate for constable.
Four seats are open with four candidates vying. They are Democrats George A. Sherbondy and Martin J. Adobato, and Republicans Michael A. Banaszak and Eric R. Christner.
Shirley Eckman is the only candidate for tax collector. Jean Luczka is the only candidate for auditor.
There are three, four-year seats open on council with five Democrats vying. They are Ronald L. Lombard, Craig J. Johnston, Charlie H. Johnson, Pete Gardner and Paul E. Black. Republican Christopher Massey is the only candidate on the ballot for the one, two-year seat.
Democrat Timothy M. Smith is the only candidate on the ballot for mayor. Irene E. Smith is the only candidate for tax collector. Mark Pasquale is the only candidate for constable.
The race for mayor will take place in November's general election. Joseph M. Ambrose is seeking the Democratic nomination. Jack K. Washabaugh is seeking the Republican nomination.
Five Democrats are vying for four seats on council. They include Sheila Kurtz, Duane Lee King, Betty J. Keffer, Dennis E. Lowe and Thomas E. Sankovich.
Lisa Washabaugh is the only candidate on the ballot for tax collector. Richard L. Keffer Jr. is the only candidate on the ballot for constable.