3 seek Connellsville mayoral position

| Monday, May 6, 2013, 9:39 a.m.

Three candidates are vying for their party's nomination in the May 21 primary election to become Connellsville mayor.

They are Mayor Charles Matthews, seeking his second term; Joshua DeWitt and Gregory Lincoln. All are Democrats. There are no candidates seeking the Republican nomination.

Matthews, 61, said he hopes to continue as mayor for several reasons, but mainly to complete several projects started that he would like to see brought to fruition.

“I'm in this for the city,” Matthews said. “I'm in this for all of the city and not just special interest groups. There are several projects, four or five, that aren't done yet.”

Matthews said he also wants to stress that the city has been busy working on blighted properties.

“Contrary to popular belief, the city has been busy,” Matthews said. “We have gotten rid of 23 blighted properties in three years. I want to see the city move forward and not go back to the way it was when it was run by special interest groups who did not have the best interest of the city or its residents in mind.”

DeWitt, 27, said he has several reasons to seek the position.

“It's hard to pick just one topic as my platform, because there are so many things I want to do to help change issues within the city,” DeWitt said. “ I really do want what's best for Connellsville. I would like to help make it the once thriving city it was, and to maintain safety within the community. I want to keep our citizens of the community happy and to try to keep budgets as low as possible.”

Lincoln, 39, said his goals are to enhance the city and work together with everyone in the city.

“I will bring fresh, new ideas to our city and make Connellsville a place where families will want to buy homes, new businesses will want to open their doors, and residents will want to take pride in their community,” Lincoln said. “ I will work diligently to establish a cooperative spirit with all city departments and provide them the opportunity to share ideas and help make decisions. Most importantly, I will work with all civic organizations and cooperate and support their efforts. I have the energy, dedication and vision that the city of Connellsville needs and deserves.”

City council

There are two seats open on Connellsville City Council and two candidates on the May ballot — Democratic incumbent Tom Karpiak and Republican newcomer Aaron G. Zolbrod.

Karpiak, 57, said he hopes to stay on council to see projects set in motion for the future of the city.

“I'm looking at the long range of the city,” Karpiak said. “Our downtown belongs to the people who invest in it and we need people who are willing to move forward with it. We need to take advantage of every situation that is presented to us and capitalize on it and maximize it. I want to do what needs to be done.”

Zolbrod, 42, said the financial situation of the city is the most important issue to tackle.

“I want to get the city finances — which are on the brink right now — under control and avoid having to go into the state's ACT 47 program, which would designate Connellsville as having chronic budget deficits and in danger of failing to pay employees,” Zolbrod said. “I'd like to get rid of the unsightly blighted buildings, making the city more attractive by enforcing existing codes strictly and making them tougher on deadbeat property owners. As we accomplish this, more families and businesses will consider Connellsville a viable place to move, and also, turn our greatest asset — the bike trail — into a cash cow for the city. We must find ways to attract the estimated 80,000 people per year that use the Connellsville section into our businesses.”

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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