Embattled Arnold mayor faces a primary contest from a councilman
A Democratic councilman in Arnold is attempting to knock off the city’s mayor in Tuesday’s primary election.
Joe Bia II, 45, is at the midpoint of his first term council term but decided to make a run against Mayor Karen Peconi Biricocchi because, he said, “we can’t financially support the current mayor as a city.”
He’s a data networking engineer who was elected in 2017 to his first term as a councilman.
Bia said Peconi is an embarrassment to the city. He said her poor decisions have been costly, pointing to a claim Peconi filed last year with the city’s insurance carrier to cover the cost of defending her in an ethics investigation.
That cost the city about $15,000 in legal fees, Bia said.
Peconi also came under fire for Facebook posts she made in the wake of protests after Antwon Rose’s killing last summer.
A video the mayor shared on her Facebook page portrayed water cannons being used to disperse protesters elsewhere. Some were violently knocked to the ground.
“We need one of these for tomorrow,” Peconi wrote in a comment beneath the video, referring to a protest of Rose’s death in Pittsburgh.
Later, she wrote, “bring the hoses” and complained of protesters, “None of them work. That’s how they can do this at 7 a.m. … Very sad.”
She apologized for making the posts but ignored calls for her resignation that included council requesting Gov. Tom Wolf step in to remove Peconi from office.
“There’s a lot of embarrassment in our town because of things like that,” Bia said. “Our citizens deserve better. There’s a lot that can be done.”
In addition to having a vote at council meetings, the mayor oversees the police department. As mayor, Bia said he would work to improve public safety in the city, along with continuing programs the city has to improve streets, he said.
Peconi didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment for this story.
Last July, Peconi read a statement regarding why she rebuffed calls to resign: “I love this community, and I have worked very hard to strengthen the city’s efforts on code enforcement, public safety, enhanced police protection, drug enforcement and police visibility throughout the city.”
Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .