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Republicans jockey for control

| Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Kathleen McCormick
Deb Sompel
Gene James
Jonathan Vesely, candidate for Greensburg City Council

For the first time in more than a decade, Republicans can take control of Greensburg City Council.

Incumbent Kathleen McCormick and fellow Republican Deb Sompel are battling Democrats Gene James and Jonathan Vesely for two seats in the Nov. 5 election.

Democrat Rob DePasquale decided not to seek re-election. McCormick, completing her first term, holds the other open spot. Republican Bill Eger already serves on the five-member council.

Despite their party possibly taking control, McCormick and Sompel said they are running as individuals.

“I'm running my own campaign, and I'm running on my record,” McCormick said. “I'm working for the needs of our business owners and residents of Greensburg.”

She called herself a person who has brought change, noting improvements that happened, in part, because of her efforts to revamp the 5th Ward Playground and on Madison Avenue.

City police have cracked down on illegal drugs, and she wants that to continue, McCormick said. People must be better educated about the harmful effects of using illegal substances, she added.

She said she further is concerned about council's failure to ease enforcement of building code regulations — something current members said they would do in the last election but haven't.

Since she is retired, McCormick said she has the time to devote to council.

Sompel said she is a hard worker and will bring that to the city board.

“I'm going to work. I'm not just going out putting up signs,” she said.

Many residents and business owners remain unhappy with what they view as overenforcement of building regulations, she said. Sompel said she knows business owners who have avoided Greensburg because of the regulations.

As a challenger, she doesn't know yet how to solve all problems, but that will come once she is elected, Sompel said

“I plan on getting answers,” she added.

James touted his experience as a manager.

“I'm — as near as I can tell — the only person who has management and governance experience,” James said of the candidates.

He co-founded Westmoreland On-Line, an Internet company, served as a vice president of Overly Door Co. and was chapter chairman of the American Red Cross. He is committee chairman of SummerSounds, a concert series held annually in Greensburg, and serves on the city's zoning hearing board.

James said he would bring much-needed knowledge of technology to council.

“I'm a technology person. I'm an engineer. I'm a geek,” James said.

He likes the importance city officials have placed on expanding Seton Hill University and Excela Health, but added, “We can't put all our eggs in one basket.”

Greensburg officials must attract other companies, he said.

As a way to save money, he wants council to begin putting professional services out for bid.

Vesely did not return calls for an interview.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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