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Patricia Fritz announces bid for commissioner, while her former boss files to run again for Westmoreland sheriff |

Patricia Fritz announces bid for commissioner, while her former boss files to run again for Westmoreland sheriff

Rich Cholodofsky
A beverage koozie Patricia Fritz passed out as part of her campaign to run for Westmoreland County commissioner.
Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held

Embattled Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held and his former chief deputy filed campaign documents Tuesday to run for public office.

Held, a Hempfield Republican, will seek a third term as the sheriff while state prosecutors prepare to retry him on public corruption charges. He is accused of forcing on-duty deputies and office employees to work on his last re-election campaign.

Meanwhile, Patricia Fritz filed documents saying she will run for county commissioner. She was fired last year after being convicted of a summary harassment offense for a physical confrontation with the president of the union that represents sheriff’s deputies.

Fritz, of Mt. Pleasant, is one of seven Republicans who filed nominating petitions by Tuesday’s deadline to have her name placed on the ballot for county commissioner.

Other Republicans were Doug Chew, Heather Cordial, Paul Kosko and John Ventre, all of Hempfield, along with Ron Gazze and Sean Kertes, both of Greensburg.

Charles Anderson, the incumbent Republican commissioner, plans to retire and is not seeking re-election.

Incumbents Gina Cerilli and Ted Kopas are the lone Democratic candidates for commissioner. Kopas is seeking his third term. Cerilli is running for her second term.

The top two vote-getters from each party in the May 21 primary will be on the ballot for November’s general election for the three board seats.

Fritz, who county commissioners for a time last year banned from the courthouse, did not return a call seeking comment about her candidacy.

The GOP is not expected to make endorsements, according to Republican Committee Chairman Kerry Jobe.

“This is the testing field. For candidates with baggage, voters will have to work it out. May the best candidate win. We can only individually help candidates best situated to win in the fall and are the best to serve the county,” Jobe said.

Democrats, who have just two contested primaries this spring for county-wide offices, Common Pleas Court judge and Register of Wills, will hold the party’s annual convention March 31, where endorsements will be considered, Committee Chairwoman Rachael Shaw said.

“It’s an advantage to have so few primaries. We have a good slate of candidates. And because there are just a few contested races, we expect stronger candidates in the fall,” Shaw said.

In addition to the commissioners race, Republicans have races in the May primary for judge, sheriff, Recorder of Deeds and Register of Wills.

Held is being challenged in the primary by two current deputies, Steve Felder of Penn Township and Samuel Pilato of Hempfield, and former Greensburg police officer Eugene Zulisky.

James Albert, a former district judge in Greensburg now living in New Alexandria, is the lone Democrat running for sheriff.

Held’s criminal trial in December ended with jurors being unable to reach a verdict on two outstanding charges, a felony count of conflict of interest and a misdemeanor theft allegation. His retrial has been delayed as Held appealed a court order that rejected his demand the case be dismissed.

Incumbent Republican Register of Wills Sherry Magretti Hamilton is being challenged in the GOP primary by one of her former deputies, Kimberly Horrell of Greensburg.

A third race between incumbent Democrat Recorder of Deeds Tom Murphy and Republican Frank Schiefer could be in the works. Schiefer, of Greensburg, beat then two-term incumbent Murphy in 2011, only to lose to him four years later. For that rematch to occur, Schiefer will have to defeat two other Republicans, Brian Rasel of Penn Township and Jon Wian of North Huntingdon, in the primary election.

Meanwhile, six lawyers are seeking two openings on the county’s court.

Judicial candidates are: Democrats Mike Stewart II of Hempfield, Matthew Schimizzi of Hempfield and Jessica Rafferty of Unity and Republicans Wayne McGrew of Sewickley Township, current state Rep. Justin Walsh from Rostraver and Kyle Baxter of North Huntingdon.

Judicial candidates are permitted by law to cross-file, meaning each will run in both the Republican and Democratic primaries.

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

Categories: Local | Westmoreland
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