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2 Republicans with diverse histories seek nomination for Westmoreland County prothonotary

| Saturday, May 4, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Carl Stepanovich
Mike Powers

Two Republicans with diverse political and professional backgrounds are seeking to be the party's nominee to run for Westmoreland County prothonotary this fall.

The candidates in the May 21 primary, Carl Stepanovich, 69, of Murrysville and Mike Powers, 25, of New Stanton, agree that changes are needed in the management of the office that oversees the filing of civil and family court documents.

Incumbent Christina O'Brien, 46, of Mt. Pleasant Township is seeking her second four-year term. She is unopposed in the primary for the Democrat nomination.

She will face the Republican victor in the general election in November.

Both Stepanovich and Powers said they want documents to be filed electronically.

They want to keep the office open for longer hours and to allow the public to pay fees with credit cards.

Stepanovich, a retired salesman who is a constituent advocate for state Rep. Eli Evankovich, R-Murrysville, said his work experience makes him the better candidate.

“My biggest attribute that I'm bringing to it is experience. I've had the life experience. I've had a career,” Stepanovich said.

“It's something I bring to the office that a younger man perhaps doesn't. I have life experience and I have business experience.”

Powers, who previously worked as executive director for the Westmoreland County Republican Committee and on several local political campaigns, said his youth is an asset.

“We need to start bringing positive energy around county government. I definitely have the passion to do it,” Powers said.

Powers said he would refuse to accept a county pension if he is elected to a job that could be eliminated.

State lawmakers are expected to consider a proposal later this year that would consolidate all court-related record-keeping offices into one department, eliminating the prothonotary's office.

“I like it being an elected office. You have more control and less bureaucracy that way,” Powers said.

Stepanovich said he has not formed an opinion about that proposal.

“I would be in favor of looking at it,” Stepanovich said.

The Republican primary for prothonotary is the only contested election for county row offices.

Incumbent Democrat John Peck of New Kensington is unopposed in his bid to win a fifth term as district attorney. Murrysville lawyer Peter Borghetti is the lone Republican on that ballot.

Four-term incumbent Democrat Ken Bacha of Greensburg and Republican Christopher O'Leath of New Kensington have no primary opposition for coroner.

First-term incumbent Republican Bryan Kline of Penn Township is unchallenged in the GOP primary for clerk of courts. Democrat Dan Blissman, a county jury commissioner from Hempfield, is unopposed on that ballot and will face Kline in the fall.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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