Hempfield man, formerly state director of UFO group, enters Westmoreland commissioner race | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Hempfield man, formerly state director of UFO group, enters Westmoreland commissioner race

Rich Cholodofsky
624673_web1_gtr-VentreRun-011119
Submitted photo
John Ventre, 61, a Republican, of Hempfield will seek a position on the Westmoreland County board of commissioners.
624673_web1_gtr-VentreRun2-011119
Submitted photo
John Ventre, 61, a Republican, of Hempfield will seek a position on the Westmoreland County board of commissioners.

A Hempfield man accused in a national magazine article of making racially insensitive statements on social media announced Thursday he will seek a position on the Westmoreland County board of commissioners.

John Ventre, 61, a Republican, said his candidacy will focus on improving the county’s finances and criticized the current office holders for poor oversight.

“I’ve been retired for six years, but I’m coming out of retirement to campaign because I don’t like what I see politically or financially in this county,” Ventre said. “We’ve nearly drained our $60 million reserve fund, had to pay a liberal outside firm for ideas and a misguided plan, have too many lawsuits and political patronage.”

Ventre, who has never held elected office, worked as a security and public affairs employee with UPS in New Stanton until his retirement in 2012.

He also served as a state director of Mutual UFO Network, or MUFON, an organization that investigates and researches reports of suspected sightings of unidentified flying objects.

An article published by Newsweek in April about the organization and its leadership focused on Ventre, racially-tinged comments towards African Americans he posted on social media and efforts to oust him from his role with the group.

On Thursday, Ventre said he has left the organization, disavowed its work and downplayed his racial views.

“I basically re-posted what someone else said,” Ventre said of his social media writings.”This hatred has to get dialed down. I did apologize for it the next day. I made one statement, and now I am a racist.”

He also has spoken out against bringing diversity to Westmoreland County, a component of a comprehensive plan for future growth that county commissioners approved last month.

“The culture here is unique. I don’t know it’s conducive to opening up the county to diversity,” Ventre said.

Ventre is the third Republican to announce his candidacy for county commissioner. Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County employee Paul Kosko and Sean Kertes, chief of staff to Commissioner Charles Anderson, have said they will run for the four-year seat.

Anderson, 76, announced this week he would not seek another term in office.


Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293 or [email protected]


Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: News | Westmoreland
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.