4 Democrats seek Latrobe mayoral seat
Four Democrats want to succeed Latrobe Mayor Barbara Griffin, who is not running for re-election.
Competing in the May 21 primary are council members Fabian Giovannagelo and Rosie Moff Wolford; Carl R. “Skip” Bollinger Jr., a Latrobe parking authority member; and Jason L. Weiss, a city planning commission member.
Giovannagelo and Wolford's terms on council do not expire until 2015.
Neither Bollinger nor Weiss has run for public office. Both promote their candidacies as offering change and new perspectives.
Giovannagelo, a longtime member of the city's fire department, is a veteran councilman first elected in the 1990s. He lost an election bid in 2005, but won a seat in 2007 and re-election in 2011.
In a prepared statement, Giovannagelo said he is challenging what he claims is a “head in the sand” approach to the city's problems.
“The proliferation of illegal drug usage, property theft and the lack of effective code enforcement are compromising the quality of life,” Giovannagelo said.
As mayor, Giovannagelo said he would seek council's support to initiate an action plan to resolve the most critical concerns.
Giovannagelo is the subject of a state ethics complaint filed by Latrobe police Officer Michelle Preston, who has accused him of threatening her job during a discussion with city manager Alex Graziani. The dispute involves an incident report filed by Preston that alleges Giovannagelo's son, Nico, had driven in a reckless manner to a fire in February.
Giovannagelo has declined to comment on the matter.
Wolford, who has served on council for nine years, said she is running for mayor because she sees a lot of positive movement in the city and believes that she can market Latrobe, promote it and network on behalf of the city.
“We are well-positioned for the future. There are a lot of opportunities to bring things (business) into town. We need to go out and find them,” said Wolford, who is a member of the Latrobe-Unity Parks & Recreation Commission and the Adams Memorial Library board.
Wolford, vice chair of the Westmoreland County Transit Authority, said she believes it is important to have experience in city government before becoming mayor.
“I have the business experience, knowledge of government and passion to make it happen,” Wolford said.
Bollinger, who served on the city's home rule charter commission, said he believes that it is time for someone new with fresh ideas on city council.
“It's time for a change on that board. I think we need someone new,” said Bollinger, who has volunteered with the city fire department for 40 years.
Weiss said he believes it is time for new ideas.
“The mayor also serves in the unique role of a public emblem of this city's private faces,” Weiss said.
Weiss said he has written to several large corporations about ideas for the abandoned Lehigh Specialty Melting building on Ligonier Street. Those ideas include a city-owned geothermal/solar power plant that could employ more than 200 people, Weiss said.
He said he is “strongly considering” researching how to petition the Pennsylvania Gaming Commission to create an additional gaming license for Latrobe, with the intention of converting the vacant Lehigh building into a casino and hotel.
Weiss said he is exploring the idea of creating a local community theater or theater in the park organization, an annual Renaissance-themed festival, and the construction of an ice cream diner that resembles the famous trolley from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
Weiss said he believes that crime, specifically drug-related crime, is one of the city's most pressing issues.
City council has been embroiled in a controversy for several months over the future of Latrobe's refuse transfer station, where residents and businesses pay a fee to deposit trash and the city hauls it to a landfill. Latrobe has advertised for five-year bids for the collection of residential and commercial garbage and recyclable items, as well as hauling services at the transfer station on Mission Road.
Giovannagelo has favored seeking bids to see how much a contractor would pay the city for the right to operate the transfer station.
Wolford, chairwoman of the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program, said she believes the city needs to wait for more information on the cost of operating the transfer station and the revenue it generates.
Bollinger, the city's emergency services coordinator for three years, said the city should maintain ownership of the transfer station “because that is where they make the money.”
There are no Republicans on the primary ballot. Griffin won as a Republican four years ago, succeeding Republican Tom Marflak, who did not seek re-election.
Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Unity rally aims to counter negativity of KKK message in ’97
- Greater Latrobe teachers, school board approve 5-year contract
- Second phase of Westmoreland Airpark in Unity opens
- Attorney: Indiana County suspect not fit for trial in fatal Derry shooting
- House 58th District seat candidates focus on education, taxes
- Pittsburgh man pleads guilty in Monessen shooting
- Kin of 2013 DUI crash victim in Hempfield lose young family in fire
- Hempfield killer Stahl ordered to pay for slain wife’s funeral
- North Huntingdon commissioners fill vacant board seat
- Trick-or-treat in Mt. Pleasant set for Sunday
- DNA evidence in alleged June 2013 rape leads to Latrobe man’s arrest