Mike O’Barto gets GOP nod in quest to return as Unity supervisor
Unity’s Republican voters Tuesday gave former township supervisor Mike O’Barto a vote of confidence for returning to the role he left less than two years ago.
O’Barto believes his 24-year history as a supervisor is a main reason why he led the field of three GOP candidates in a primary election that attracted a light turnout at the polls. He garnered 954 votes to 745 for Paul McCommons, a retired state police corporal who fell short in his second bid for supervisor, and 183 for Marcus Burrik, owner of a construction firm who indicated he would not actively campaign after learning O’Barto was in the race.
“I think people responded to my experience and my past performance as a township supervisor,” O’Barto said Wednesday.”I think the future really looks good for Unity Township because of what has been in place, not just because of me. If I am fortunate enough to be re-elected, I want to be a piece of that puzzle.”
In November, O’Barto will face Doug Murphy, who was unopposed for the Democratic nomination. Like McCommons, Murphy unsuccessfully ran in 2017 for the supervisor post O’Barto vacated when he won a seat on the Greater Latrobe School Board.
Despite the small numbers overall at Tuesday’s polls, O’Barto said, “I was able to get out my core supporters, and it worked out well for me.”
O’Barto felt good about his door-to-door campaigning. “I was knocking on as many doors as I could, trying to meet as many people as I could,” he said. “It was a fun campaign where I stayed very positive.”
According to the Pennsylvania School Code, a person can’t simultaneously serve in the two elected positions of school board member and township supervisor, but O’Barto isn’t ready to talk about that potential problem.
“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” he said. “I have a lot of work to do as a school board director now, and that’s what I intend to do.”
McCommons was disappointed by the low voter turnout, citing a dearth of major issues locally.
He said rainy weather hampered his plans for door-to-door campaigning and speculated that Burrik may have drawn away votes that could have been his.
“The way I look at it, I didn’t lose, the taxpayers did,” McCommons said, arguing that the supervisors should be doing more to attract businesses that could bring jobs with good wages to the township. During his campaign, he suggested Unity would be a good site for a convention center.
McCommons wasn’t sure he would run again for supervisor but said he plans to continue voicing his concerns at the township board’s meetings.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .