Karpiak seeks re-election to Connellsville council

| Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 6:51 a.m.

Connellsville City Councilman Tom Karpiak is seeking re-election in the May 21 primary.

There are two open council seats — the one occupied by Karpiak and one being vacated by Marilyn Weaver, who opted not to seek re-election.

Karpiak, 57, a Democrat, said when he ran for office four years ago, he did so because he saw potential in the city as a river town and family destination spot.

“The original reason I got into the politics of the city is because I saw things that needed done and I saw things that shouldn't be done,” Karpiak said. “I always thought this city had so much potential being a river town. I knew I could help.”

Karpiak is a graduate of Connellsville Area High School. He has worked for many years in sales and construction.

Karpiak said he is proud to have served on council for the past four years and feels the city is moving in the right direction in promoting and improving the town.

“I believe in my first term I have kept a positive attitude and promoted a positive attitude about this city. That's why I wanted a triathlon in this town, so people could come here and see it,“ Karpiak said.

Karpiak was referring to the city's first triathlon held several years ago that he was instrumental in organizing. It was titled “We Play Here.”

“I am a big believer in people. People grow a town and I believe that now more than ever. We have more business in this town now than four years ago and it's not government doing it, it's people.”

Over the past several years, Karpiak said he has been instrumental in dealing with many of the city's financial, fiscal, and safety issues. He said he has helped locate a less expensive electric supplier; helped enact LERTA tax breaks for businesses that give them a cost break to start up in the city; helped to write and implement an emergency demolition contract so residents know what to do if a state-of-emergency situation arises.

One project Karpiak feels will be a big plus for the city is the tar buggy that will soon be used by the street department, a department he feels is doing a great job.

“Well it's taken four years, but I'm finally going to get that tar buggy,” Karpiak said. “I know it doesn't sound like much, but that is going to add years to the life of a road in Connellsville and my hat goes off to the men of the public works department.”

Karpiak said his vision for the future of Connellsville includes promoting the natural beauty of the location, while also promoting the town.

“I'd like to make Connellsville a destination,” Karpiak said. “There are over one million visitors 18 miles away from us in Ohiopyle every summer and we need to siphon some of them here. It's no secret that I think out of the box sometimes, so I'm up for interesting ways to get tourism in Connellsville. Whether it's a lazy float down the river or a kick butt zip line right down through town, if it will work, let's do it. It doesn't have to be my idea to be a good one. With the mountains and the river, it's a great place to play. The location is close to Pittsburgh but yet far enough away.”

Karpiak is aware of the financial issues the city faces, he said. He hopes to play his part in fixing them.

“The top of my list has been broadening the tax base and keeping Connellsville business friendly, whether it be encouraging new business or putting properties back in the hands of the public and back on the tax rolls, such as getting rid of vacant lots to selling the armory,” he said.

“There is a lot of good people in this town and I am a big believer in people,” Karpiak said. “I am not naive. I know that there is a need for government and I'm proud to do my part. I'm the best man for the job and I'm not trying to be braggadocios by saying that. But would you want somebody that would say, ‘well I'll probably be adequate?' I believe one of my duties as an elected official is to stay out of the way when possible and let people succeed. I believe the glass is half-full and rising.”

Karpiak and his wife, Judy, have two children.

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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