Ballot rivals for Westmoreland prothonotary differ on style
By Rich Cholodofsky
Published: Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
The race for Westmoreland County prothonotary is more about management style than office issues, according to the candidates.
First-term incumbent Democrat Christina O'Brien said her stewardship of the office and her experience qualify her for another four years at the helm of the county department that oversees civil and domestic court filings.
“I've worked hard for the last four years to improve the prothonotary's office,” O'Brien said.
Republican challenger Mike Powers said an infusion of new blood is needed to revamp the office and strip it of its layers of management.
“I'm a normal guy who is fed up with government officials accepting so much and doing so little,” Powers said.
O'Brien, who previously served as an elected jury commissioner, touted her efforts during her time as prothonotary. She said her office expanded its passport services and now issues about 400 a year compared to about 40 when she took office in 2009.
O'Brien, 46, of Mt. Pleasant Township said the office recently completed a project to upload a century's worth of naturalization records online and soon will launch a project to allow attorneys to file court documents online.
That system, which may be installed next year, ultimately could save taxpayers about $150,000 a year, she said.
“I've worked really hard to improve the office. I always keep taxpayers in mind and take the job seriously,” O'Brien said. “I have 25 years of office experience, and my opponent only has a year.”
Powers, 25, of Hempfield is seeking his first public office. He works as a supervisor for United Parcel Service and previously worked as executive director of the county's Republican Committee.
He said many of the initiatives O'Brien instituted in the office earlier this year, such as expanding office hours one day a week, were ideas he raised first in the run-up to the spring primary.
Powers said he would trim the office's management team and not hire a deputy. Powers said he would decline to take a county pension if he is elected.
“I haven't held an office, but I'm not corrupted by politics. I want to save taxpayers money,” Powers said.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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