2 incumbents seek to retain seats on Irwin Council
The contest among four candidates seeking three seats on Irwin Council is proof of the importance of write-in votes.
Three of the four candidates running for four-year terms on council won a spot on the Nov. 5 ballot as a result of write-in votes in the May primary, including the incumbent who is president of council.
Republican incumbent Mike Yunn, 40, was the only candidate on the ballot in the Republican primary. He is seeking his second term.
Council President Richard Burdelski, 60, a registered Republican, won spots on both the Democratic and Republican tickets with less than 40 write-in votes on either ballot.
Both incumbents are seeking their second term. Incumbent Debbie Kelly is not running for re-election.
The incumbents will be facing challenges from Shawn Stitely, 53, a registered Democrat, who won both party nominations through a write-in votes, and Jeffrey Clem, 60, a registered Republican who won a spot on the Democratic ballot.
Burdelski, who recently retired as an applications development specialist at the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit, said he wants to run for a second term to continue the progress the borough has made in the past four years.
He pointed to the installation of a new playground at Irwin Park and the road paving program that included Pennsylvania Avenue. The borough is in the exploratory stages of adding a water park to Irwin Park, Burdelski said.
He also noted that the downtown business district is strong and there is demand for commercial space.
Yunn, a solutions architect with IBM, said he wants to continue to working to make improvements to the borough’s parks.
During his first term, Yunn, who heads the borough’s parks and recreation committee, spearheaded the installation of a new playground earlier this year, as well as new benches and updates throughout the park.
Yunn has discussed plans for a semi-permanent structure that would hold a movie screen that could be quickly stretched between poles, thus creating a “drive-in movie” atmosphere at Irwin Park.
He used his skills to redesign the borough’s website at no cost to the borough.
Clem, a retired officer with the state Department of Corrections and an Air Force veteran, said he is interested in helping senior citizens, as well as the police, volunteer fire department and ambulance service.
He said he would like to work to get a pharmacy and grocery store in downtown Irwin to replace the shuttered Rite Aid pharmacy. Senior citizens who don’t have transportation and have to walk into town do not have a place to get medicine or groceries, he noted.
Stitely, Irwin’s deputy fire chief, said he was prompted to run because he did not agree with some previous council decisions, particularly the move to cut the budget for the fire department.
He served on council from 2000 to 2004, and said he believes the borough should have found other areas to cut expenses.
“I’m all about public safety,” said Stitely, an assistant foreman with the Western Westmoreland Municipal Authority.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .