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Retirement opens supervisor field to 2 Republicans in Unity

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Unity Township supervisor candidate Republican Thomas Ulishney
Unity Township supervisor candidate Timothy K. Thomas

The pending retirement of one of the three Unity supervisors has opened the race to two Republicans — one who promises not to work as roadmaster, and the other who would like to restructure township government and hire a professional manager.

Vying for the Republican nomination in the May 21 primary are Timothy Thomas and Thomas Ulishney.

The lone Democratic candidate, Domenick Scekeres, faces no opposition in the primary.

The candidates are seeking to replace Jacob “Jake” Blank Jr., who announced in February he would retire when his six-year term expires at the end of the year. Blank, along with fellow supervisors John Mylant and Michael O'Barto, are roadmasters who are paid a salary to supervise the public works department.

Thomas, a member of the township zoning hearing board since its inception in 1991, said he favors Unity hiring a professional manager and possibly a public works supervisor to oversee the road department, instead of having three supervisors serve as roadmasters.

Thomas, a surveyor, noted that North Huntingdon, Hempfield, Penn Township and Rostraver townships have a municipal manager and a professional staff.

“To run it efficiently and correctly, that's the way to go,” Thomas said. “That's the ultimate goal.”

Thomas said at a Concerned Citizens of Unity meeting on April 24 that he intended to work as a roadmaster.

However, the following day, Thomas said, “I said I was going to do it, but maybe I will change my mind.”

Thomas said he wants Unity's website to include more information about the township and prefers that the supervisors' meeting times be moved from the afternoon to the evening to allow more people to attend.

Ulishney, who operates a landscaping business in Unity, pledged that he would not serve as a roadmaster.

“Elected government employees should be public servants and not public employees,” Ulishney said.

“There already are two roadmasters and only 15 public works employees. You do not need three bosses for 15 workers. I feel one supervisor for 15 people is enough,” Ulishney said.

Ulishney, whose wife, Anita, is the township secretary, said Unity would save about $500,000 in salary and benefits costs if he did not serve as a roadmaster during the six-year term as supervisor.

As for restructuring township government and hiring a professional manager, Ulishney said he does not believe the township needs it “at this point.”

Whoever wins the Republican primary will face Scekeres, who as a Democrat has a voter registration edge. For the primary, 6,914, or 47 percent of the township's 14,628 voters, are registered Democrats, while the Republicans have 6,082 registered voters, equal to 41 percent of the electorate.

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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