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Ward announces run for county commissioner

Hempfield Township Supervisor Kim Ward has spent the last decade orchestrating high-profile Republican runs for state, national and local candidates in Westmoreland County.

Now, she'll tackle her own countywide campaign.

Before about two dozen supporters Wednesday at the Panera Bread restaurant in Hempfield, Ward, 50, announced she will run for county commissioner next year.

"I love public service and making decisions that affect our community," Ward said.

While offering few details, Ward said her campaign will focus on restoring ethics accountability to county leaders, improving fiscal responsibility to courthouse operations, enhancing planning and economic development activities, and expanding social service programs at the county level.

Ward said she favored construction of a highway linking New Stanton and the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport and opposed a countywide property reassessment and the construction of magnetic levitation train between Greensburg and Pittsburgh International Airport.

But it was the ethics issue that Ward spoke about at length.

"Public officials have to be held to a higher standard. I don't think asking employees for fundraising, and I don't think taking huge gifts from vendors is appropriate. There are some ethical challenges up there (at the courthouse)," Ward said.

She declined to make any specific allegations but suggested county commissioners should enact a code of conduct to prevent wrongdoing.

Ward pledged to cap donations to her campaign and accept only "reasonable" amounts from supporters.

Ward is seeking one of three spots on the board of commissioners. Democrats Tom Balya and Tom Ceraso have announced their intentions to run for re-election.

Republican Commissioner Phil Light said yesterday he would make an announcement about his intentions "within a couple of weeks."

Republicans have not held a majority on the board of commissioners in more than 50 years. Ward, if elected, would be the first female county commissioner since the early 1970s.

Ward is serving her first six-year term as a Hempfield supervisor. Ward said yesterday she would not seek re-election next year to her Hempfield post.

Her campaign announcement came just a week after her most recent job concluded. Ward was a key political operative in the unsuccessful re-election bid of U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum.

Ward previously led successful campaign efforts in Westmoreland County for President Bush and numerous other local and statewide candidates.

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