8 vying for Democratic nomination for Fayette County treasurer
Eight candidates are seeking to become Fayette County's next treasurer.
All are running for the Democratic nomination for the four-year position. Incumbent Robert F. Danko will retire at the end of the year.
There are no candidates seeking the Republican nomination.
Vying in the May 21 primary are Beth Kerns Patton of Bullskin, Brad W. Geyer of Connellsville, Larry Russman of North Union, Lawrence Roberts of South Union, Melvin E. Lerch Jr. of Franklin, Mike Zimcosky of Smock, Nancy Lee Wilson of Uniontown and Thomas Pearson III of North Union.
Kerns, 43, said her experience as a county employee in the tax claim and tax assessment offices has provided her with the skills needed to run the office. That experience includes handling tax collections, insurance issues, county finances and balancing budgets, she said. Her duties include auditing and inputting taxes collected by the county's 40 tax collectors, she said.
Kerns said her goals for the row office include ensuring that it continues to operate efficiently.
“I know that the treasurer's office has just started using a new (software) system, and I want to continue to keep the office in the mainstream,” Kerns said. “Being competitive with the other counties is important and provides efficiency to the taxpayers.”
Geyer, 31, said his experience as an elected councilman in Connellsville will prove beneficial in running the county office.
“The treasurer sits on the county pension board and, as director of accounts and finance for the city, we manage three municipal pensions,” Geyer said.
His goals for the office include ensuring technology is kept up to date. Of particular concern, he said, is ensuring the county is “collecting everything we are owed” from the hotel tax.
“This would require setting up methods to certifying the revenue reported,” Geyer said.
Russman, 51, cites his experience as a business owner.
“It's kind of like the same thing I do in my business, where I collect hundreds of thousands of dollars and send them to state organizations,” said Russman, who owns Larry's Title Service and Insurance Agency.
If elected, he said he will evaluate the office to determine whether any changes are needed.
“Under my leadership, the very first thing you will see, when you come in, is a smile,” Russman said. “We will greet you with a smile, and if you have any problems, we will try to fix them for you.”
Roberts, a retired state legislator who works as a self-employed arbitrator, said his master's degree in business and his experience as chairman of a legislative banking subcommittee have prepared him to handle the treasurer's duties.
He said he has no plans for major changes in the office, but he wants to explore ways to ensure accountability of hotel-tax proceeds. “The hotel tax is very important to me because we don't know if we are getting what we are supposed to be getting,” Roberts said.
Lerch, 59, who is a Franklin Township supervisor, said he wanted to run for treasurer 24 years ago, but did not do so after Danko announced his candidacy.
“I told him I would never run against him,” Lerch said. “He's retired, so I am giving it a shot.”
Lerch said his plans include evaluating the office to see if any changes are necessary.
“I'll learn it inside and out and I will be a part of the team,” Lerch said. “I want to be skilled on each individual thing that they do there to improve our productivity.”
Zimcosky, 45, an auditor in the county controller's office, said his finance degree and experience auditing county offices has provided him with the skills needed to run the office efficiently.
“I have audited almost every tax collector in the county, so I know what it takes to be a tax collector,” Zimcosky said.
Zimcosky said he gained hands-on experience with another duty, receiving and depositing money, when he worked as an accounts manager for a previous employer.
“I honestly believe that the office right now is run efficiently, but if I were elected, I would evaluate what's in place right now to enhance what's already there,” Zimcosky said. “Let's not go out and spend more of the taxpayers' money. Let's take what we have and enhance that to make services more accommodating to those who need them.”
Wilson, 64, who is second deputy treasurer in the treasurer's office, said her 34 years' experience in the office has prepared her to take over its leadership.
“I already have the knowledge and the established working relationships needed to work with state offices for the licenses that we issue, with bank employees for overseeing accounts, and for dealing with other treasurer offices in the state,” Wilson said.
Wilson said she will ensure the office is kept up to date with technology, will implement improvements as necessary, retain existing staff members and assist with office duties. “I will be an active, working treasurer on a daily basis,” Wilson said.
Pearson, 61, said he can transfer his experience as a business owner into the treasurer's office. Pearson owns Fayette Bail Bonds and previously owned an insurance agency.
“I have a lot to offer with my business experience,” Pearson said. “I want to make sure that things are handled properly.”
If elected, Pearson said, his goal is to ensure the office is run efficiently and that technology is kept up to date.
“I'll do my best for the residents,” Pearson said. “My first concern will always be the residents of Fayette County, that they get the most for their money and the best service we can provide for them.”
Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.