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Write-in candidates shake up Aleppo board

| Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, 12:26 a.m.

Two write-in candidates appear poised to win seats on the Aleppo Board of Commissioners, besting three candidates whose names were on the ballot.

George Jones and Anthony Lisanti likely will split most of the 704 write-in votes cast, said Matthew Doebler, the only one of four candidates to appear on the ballot and win in Tuesday's election.

The three top vote-getters, endorsed by the Aleppo Good Government Group, ran to improve government transparency, increase community involvement and reunite a township divided by a controversial sewer project, said Doebler, a political newcomer who ran as a candidate of “Restore Sanity,” a party he established.

“There's no (township) website in 2013. That's insane. A large portion of the residents are suing the township over the sewer project, and that's insane,” said Doebler, who asserted that his party name is not a jab at sitting commissioners. “Aleppo is a community torn apart by this sewer project, and that's what I'm trying to restore.”

Masonic Village is suing Aleppo over a sewer rateincrease, according to court documents.

Doebler, 35, a Downtown trial attorney, intends to start a website for the township and communicate with residents through emails, newsletters and short Internet videos. Jones, 67, a self-employed analyst, said he will support Doebler's initiatives. Lisanti, a retired engineer, could not be reached for comment.

Doebler, who received 374 votes, reviewed a list of the write-in votes posted outside the township hall and said most were for Jones or Lisanti. Splitting the write-in votes would put Jones and Lisanti ahead of Republican incumbents Clayton R. Steup, Linda S. Vescio and Edward K. Beaman, who each received about 100 votes.

County election officials do not have to certify the vote until Nov. 25. They did not have a write-in vote tally for the Aleppo race on Wednesday.

The results and write-in campaigns caused confusion in the township of about 1,900 people, said Vescio, 69. She said Doebler, Jones and Lisanti courted only the votes of two housing communities in Aleppo, the Sewickley Heights Manor Homes and the Masonic Village, a retirement community.

“They didn't represent the rest of the township,” Vescio said, adding the election could drive the township apart rather than unite it.

Doebler and Jones did not deny targeting the two housing communities. They administered surveys within the communities, held a candidate forum at the Masonic Village and distributed directions to residents about how to successfully write in a candidate on the ballot, they said.

Commissioners serve for four years and receive $100 a month.

Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or aaupperlee@tribweb.com.

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