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Zolbrod, Karpiak win seats

| Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, 1:46 a.m.
Surrounded by supporters, Connellsville Mayor-elect Greg Lincoln and Connellsville City Councilman-elect Aaron Zolbrod enjoy a toast after learning the results of Tuesday's general election. From left are Leigh Ann Lincoln, Greg Lincoln, Zolbrod, Connellsville City Controller-elect Blaine Brooks, Melissa Tzan and Jacinta Ptacek.
Connellsville City Councilman incumbent Tom Karpiak (right) and Geno Gallo, with Sustainable Connellsville, go over election results on Tuesday evening. Karpiak was re-elected onto city council.

Connellsville City Councilman Tom Karpiak was given support by Connellsville voters who elected the Democratic candidate to a second term of office.

Joining Karpiak and council members Greg Ritch and Brad Geyer in January will be Aaron Zolbrod, who won the remaining council seat in Tuesday's general election.

Also joining the council will be a new mayor, Gregory Lincoln. Lincoln had no challengers. He defeated incumbent Mayor Charles Matthews and candidate Josh DeWitt in the primary.

Three candidates fought for the two open Connellsville City Council seats.

Zolbrod, whose name appeared on both tickets, led the field, receiving 42 percent of the vote. Karpiak received 31 percent of the vote.

Challenger Johanna Harden came in third, receiving 27 percent of the vote.

“I am looking forward to trying to move the city forward,” Zolbrod said on Tuesday night. “It's not going to be easy. I want people to understand that it's not going to be easy. There may be some tough decisions to be made.”

Zolbrod hopes to see the residents become more involved, with everyone working toward making the city a better place for everyone.

“I really want to get the communities more involved in understanding everything that is going on. That way, we can all be a part of the solution,” Zolbrod said.

He wants to tackle the blight issue that has plagued the city.

“I want to see Connellsville become a better place to live and to start a business, and I am confident that we can do this,” he said.

It was a tense night for Karpiak as he tried to retain his seat on city council.

After collecting totals from all but one precinct, by his count, Karpiak was ahead of Harden by only 25 votes. In the end, the numbers from the 6th Ward put him well ahead of Harden and into the No. 2 slot to retain his seat.

“What I think got me the win?” Karpiak said. “My workers at the polls. I had to keep close in certain places. Zach Connell was one of them, and I did. They didn't get too big of a lead on me anywhere. I figured I'd be strong on the West Side, and that put me over.”

Harden said she is pleased that so many people in the city took interest in the election.

“I am pleased that people came out to vote, and I thank those who voted for me,” Harden said. “I am undecided what I am going to do in the future. There may be other opportunities out there for me to take advantage of as a way for me to help to move the city forward toward prosperity.”

Lincoln said he is thrilled to be able to plan ahead for the future, which he hopes holds a brighter outlook for the city.

“I am very appreciative of everyone's support,” Lincoln said. “I am glad that they are giving me the chance to see what I can do for the city. I really want to get the city back on track financially, and I really want people to get more involved with the city. Community service is a great asset to the city. We have a lot of great volunteers, and we can always use more. If everyone would only give 20 hours a year, doing something like adopting their street or helping in their community, it would really make a difference. I want to work to bring pride back to the city and see people get excited to be here and to be a part of the community.”

All results are unofficial until verified by the Fayette County Election Bureau.

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer. Staff writer Karl Polacek contributed to this report.

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