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Democratic contest set in primary for Latrobe City Council seats

| Monday, April 29, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Gerald M. Baldonieri Sr., Latrobe City Council Democratic candidate
Latrobe Council candidate Robert S. Forish
Richard L Jim, Attorney at Law, running for Latrobe city council re-election
Kenneth A. Baldonieri, Candidate for Latrobe city council
Latrobe City Council Republican candidate Julie Bisi
Latrobe Council candidate Trisha Caldwell Cravener

Four Democrats are battling for their party's nomination for three Latrobe City Council seats in the May 21 primary, while two Republicans have no contest for the GOP nominations for council.

Democratic Councilmen Kenneth Baldonieri, Robert Forish and Richard Jim are joined by challenger Gerald Baldonieri, who is Kenneth Baldonieri's cousin, in the battle for the Democratic Party's nomination.

The two Republicans virtually assured of winning spots on the November ballot are newcomers Julie Bisi and Trisha Caldwell Cravener.

Kenneth Baldonieri, who is deputy mayor, said he wants to continue to work on the progress the city has made since Alex Graziani became city manager in August 2011.

“I want to see the city on solid financial footing,” Baldonieri said.

Baldonieri, who is seeking his third consecutive term, said he believes he brings leadership and integrity to city council.

“I think it is sorely missing right now,” Baldonieri said.

Forish, a volunteer firefighter, said he wants a second term on council to work on reducing the city's deficit. The city has been relying on revenue from its refuse transfer station to balance the budget.

“I bring the perspective of the working man to council,” said Forish, a construction worker.

Forish has a preliminary hearing May 13 before Unity District Judge Michael Mahady on charges of recklessly endangering another person and simple assault in connection with an incident with a neighbor at his Weldon Street residence on March 24.

Jim, who is seeking his second consecutive term on council, said he believes he understands the issues facing the city. He has served as Latrobe's deputy mayor for a two-year term and was director of community development. He was appointed to council in November 2007, after losing a re-election bid in 2005.

Gerald Baldonieri, a newcomer to politics, said he is running for council because he wants to “see if there is something I can do to make this town better.”

Baldonieri said he believes the city can do a better job in attracting businesses to Latrobe.

On the Republican ticket, Bisi said she wants to see city council continue to take “an active role in attempts ... to bring new life and atmosphere to our community.”

There are a number of businesses in town and “it would be wonderful to find ways to support them (businesses) and also find ways to bring new businesses into our town,” Bisi said.

Cravener said she wants to help improve the city's fiscal responsibility. She said she wants to open the conversation for citizens to provide their opinions on pressing issues.

“I feel Latrobe should be concentrating on major problems in our town such as drug abuse, fiscal responsibility and our youth,” Cravener said.

Council has been debating the future of the city-owned garbage transfer station. Latrobe charges a fee when the public drops off refuse at the transfer station, and the city controls the rolloff refuse container service.

Kenneth Baldonieri said he favors the city maintaining ownership of the transfer station and the rolloff container service. He said he is skeptical of contracting out the rolloff service because it would reduce the city's revenue.

Forish favored seeking bids from haulers to operate the transfer station and supported contracting out the refuse hauling from the transfer station to a landfill.

“We have the opportunity to generate more money. They (hauler) will pay us to take it (trash) away, and we still will collect money,” Forish said.

Jim said the city should get out of the business of hauling the refuse to a landfill, because of the cost of maintaining and replacing the trucks that haul the garbage.

The Democrats running for council in November likely will have a voter registration edge over Republicans. Of Latrobe's 4,994 voters registered for the primary, 2,607 are Democrats and 1,780 are Republicans. The remainder are registered as third-party voters.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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