Peck, other Dems win
Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck won a fifth term Tuesday, bucking a recent trend by voters to place Republicans into county offices previously controlled by Democrats for decades.
Peck — along with Coroner Ken Bacha and Prothonotary Christina O'Brien — held on to their seats for the Democrats, signaling the first significant countywide victories for the party in the last four years.
Peck, 66, of New Kensington defeated Republican patent attorney Peter Borghetti, 55, of Murrysville. With 305 of 306 precincts reporting, Peck received 59 percent of the vote, compared with 41 percent for Borghetti. The results are unofficial until verified by the county election bureau. Peck, who was appointed in 1994, won his fifth full term.
“People vote on how the office is depicted and seen and the citizens of the county based their vote on our record and hard work.
They said they liked what they saw the last four years,” Peck said Tuesday night from the South Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department, where Democratic candidates watched the returns.
Bacha, 52, of Greensburg defeated F. Christopher O'Leath, 36, of New Kensington, a former deputy under Bacha. Bacha won a fourth term, with 60 percent to O'Leath's 40 percent.
“People looked at it as a candidate and not a party and that pulled me through this,” Bacha said.
O'Brien, a first-term incumbent, appeared to narrowly hold on to her seat by defeating Republican challenger Mike Powers, 25, of Hempfield. O'Brien, 46, of Mt. Pleasant Township, received 52 percent of the vote to Powers' 48 percent.
“I'm honored we worked really hard the last four years,” O'Brien said. “The Democrats worked extremely hard to rebuild the party and it showed in the election results.”
The wins put a dent in the Republicans' steady sweep of row offices that began when Clerk of Courts Bryan Kline was elected four years ago. “This is the power of incumbency and name recognition,” said political analyst Bill Green. “As turnout gets lower and lower, only those who are turning out are motivated and know the candidate they are voting for.”
Turnout in Westmoreland County was about 25 percent.
Kline was the first Republican to win a row office seat in a half-century. Republicans swept all five row offices available in 2011 and for the first time in 60 years won a majority on the board of commissioners.
Republicans now claim six of nine row offices, the same number the party held heading into Tuesday's election.
Kline, 32, of Penn Township, won four more years in office by defeating Democrat Dan Blissman, 64, of Hempfield, 57 percent to 43 percent.
Voters elected Republican Meagan Bilik DeFazio as a Common Pleas Court judge. Bilik DeFazio, 38, of North Huntingdon was nominated by both parties in the primary.
Voters retained Judge Chris Feliciani, 54, of Hempfield for 10 more years. He was retained by 70 percent.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.