1 mayor retained, 1 newly elected
By Brad Pedersen
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, 2:41 a.m.
A new mayor takes office in West Kittanning on Jan. 1, and voters in Kittanning re-elected an incumbent.
Republican James W. Sobiski clinched the office by receiving 254 votes in Tuesday's election, defeating Democrat Michael Holly, 40, who received 77 votes, according to unofficial results.
Voters cast 28 write-in votes during the election.
During the primary, Sobiski defeated incumbent Mayor Bernie Bowser Jr. to become the Republican candidate.
In his first order of business, Sobiski said he plans to begin investigating a potential contract with Kittanning police, to provide 24-7 coverage, and abolishing the borough's current police department, which is made up of two part-time officers.
During the 2011 general election, 65.27 percent of voters responded yes to the ballot question asking if they favored the borough's contracting with Kittanning for police coverage. Results showed 250 voted yes and 133 voted no.
The referendum is not binding on borough council, and no further action has been taken since, Sobiski said.
“I won't be in there until the first of the year, but hopefully it won't be much longer after that,” Sobiski said. “I'm going to push it, but I still have council to go through.”
Sobiski, a former councilman, said he would like to see the borough's government be more open and transparent in its actions.
“We need to make sure council listens to the people, and when they ask a question, give an honest answer,” Sobiski said.
Also in West Kittanning, Democratic newcomer Robert Venesky received 237 votes, followed by incumbent Republican Paula Henry with 177 votes. Newcomer Henry Mores, a Democrat, earned the third seat on council, after he received 175 votes.
Incumbent Republicans Michele Cogley and Bernie Bowser received 133 and 127 votes, respectively, which was not enough to earn them another term on council.
Holly received 125 votes in the council race, which was not enough to earn him a seat on the board.
Republican Linda Olinger ran unopposed to become the borough's tax collector.
Voters elected Kittanning's mayor, Kirk Atwood, 28, to a second term in office on Tuesday.
Atwood, a Republican, received 397 votes, defeating Democrat Sandra Lee Bauer, who secured 276 votes, according to unofficial election results. Voters cast 14 write-in votes on Tuesday.
“I'm honored the voters saw fit for me to have another four years in office,” Atwood said. “I'm unhappy with council's current direction, and I'm going to attempt to put the brakes on what is happening.
“There is a lot on the table.”
Atwood said the borough must remain focused on financial solvency, and make sure to avoid all excessive and potentially wasteful spending.
He plans to work with council to revaluate purchasing a police dog, which he opposes.
In addition, Atwood hopes to find ways to reduce taxes.
“Our taxes are at 27.5 mills, which is very high,” Atwood said. “We need to work to get taxes lowered to a reasonable level.”
Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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