Half of the candidates for Tarentum Council in next month’s primary are running for multiple seats even though, in the end, they will be able to hold only one.
“It’s a weird system,” said Democrat Jim Bonner, who is vying for his party’s nomination in three races, more than any other candidate.
Bonner will appear on the May 21 primary ballot in an at-large race for a four-year seat, a Ward 3 race for a four-year term and an uncontested Ward 3 race for a two-year seat. Ward 3 is west of the Tarentum Bridge.
Bonner said he didn’t know who else might be running when he decided to throw his hat into the ring, so he opted to run for every council race for which he is eligible.
Three other candidates — Democrat Carrie Fox and Republicans Brian Snyder and Tiffany Babinsack — are running for two seats each.
Candidates seeking just one nomination: Democratic incumbent Erika Josefoski and Republican Thomas Grates Jr. in uncontested primary races in Ward 1, which is east of the Tarentum Bridge and north of railroad tracks that run through town; Democratic incumbent Scott Dadowski in Ward 2, which also is east of the Tarentum Bridge but south of the railroad tracks; and Democratic incumbent Tim Cornuet in the at-large race.
People are allowed to run for multiple offices, but in the end they can hold only one seat, according to David Zoy, Allegheny County elections manager.
Zoy said candidates who win their party’s nomination in multiple primary races can pick which seats they want to run for in the November general election and withdraw from other races, allowing their party to nominate replacement candidates.
They also can opt to run in all of the races in November and, if they win multiple seats, pick which one they want to hold. The other seats would be declared vacant and would have to be filled by appointment, Zoy said.
Bonner is the only candidate listed on the ballot for the two-year council seat. It is held by Republican Brian Snyder, who was appointed in February to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Councilman Rhonda Dzugan.
Rules required the seat to be up for election in November, with the winner serving out what would have been the rest of Dzugan’s original four-year term, which expires in December 2021.
Snyder said he made a mistake in filing to run for the four-year Ward 3 seat instead of the one he holds. He’ll face Babinsack, who could not be reached, in the GOP primary; while the incumbent Fox faces Bonner on the Democratic side.
“If I get the four-year spot, I’ll be happy to do it,” he said.
Snyder said he filed for the at-large seat because he saw it was open.
“I want to take any opportunity I can to serve Tarentum,” he said.
In all, three Democrats and two Republicans are vying for their party’s nominations for the at-large seat.
Bonner will face Cornuet and Fox in the Democratic primary, while Snyder faces Babinsack in the GOP race.
Cornuet said he chose to run only for his at-large seat and not also challenge Dadowski in the 2nd Ward, where they live.
“He’s a friend of mine and a good councilman,” Cornuet said. “I didn’t want to challenge him.”
Fox said she’s running for the at-large seat in addition to the four-year 3rd Ward seat in part because her late father, former Mayor Carl Magnetta, had been the first person to hold the at-large seat when he was on council.
“It’s something everybody wants to go after,” she said.
Fox noted that five of this year’s eight council candidates are from her ward.
“I was very proud to see so many excellent candidates coming out,” she said.