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Hardy, Vicites: Bickering must end

| Thursday, May 22, 2003

UNIONTOWN - In the afterglow of his victory Tuesday in the GOP primary race for Fayette County commissioner, Joe Hardy said that he's prepared, if he wins in the fall election, to pay for experts to evaluate the county's vital statistics.

"I just want (voters) to give me a chance. I think I can be more effective in there in a half-hour than some of these people are in two weeks," he said.

On the Democratic side, Vincent Vicites won, garnering 13,832 votes, and J. William Lincoln finished second with 9,406. Finishing out of the running were Sean Cavanagh with 8,448 votes, Vincent Zapotosky, 7,947 and Ron Nehls, 4,971.

On the GOP side, Hardy more than doubled the vote total of his nearest competitor, amassing 4,851 to Angela Zimmerlink's 2,073. Finishing third was Dave Lohr with 1,711 to Donald Miller's 1,643. Fifth and sixth were Ken Firestone with 1,051 to John Evans' 751.

Three of the nominated candidates for commissioner, Hardy on the GOP side and Vicites and Lincoln on the Democratic side, pledged teamwork if elected to a four-year term. Housing authority board member Angela Zimmerlink, a Republican, also was nominated, but could not be reached for comment.

"One of my main themes in my campaign was that we have to stop the bickering," Vicites said.

Hardy agreed. "The reputation there in that office (commissioners) is in tatters now. We need to work together to be taken seriously," he said.

Hardy pledged to work with whoever is elected to "make things happen."

"I want to get Fayette County noticed nationally," he said.

As an example, Hardy pointed to his Woodlands Outdoor World store near his Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Spa in Wharton Township. He said he visited a Cabela's store in Minnesota, and when Cabela's wasn't interested in locating here, he opened a similar store.

That's the sort of take-charge decisions Hardy said voters should expect.

"I don't wait around. I'd rather make a decision and be wrong than make no decision," he said.

Also, Hardy said he'll work with his colleagues to calm whatever apprehension they might have that his grand style is meant to upstage them.

"I'm no threat to their careers at my age. I just think we can accomplish so much more united than by divide and conquer," he said.

Lincoln said he believes Hardy will deliver on his promises.

However, both he and Vicites said they are concerned right now with the probable formation of a team of endorsed candidates.

"Mr. Vicites has done an outstanding job of governance there for the past eight years under some of the worst conditions. He and I will form a team, and we will work together well. With my knowledge of people around the state and his local abilities, we will make a good team," Lincoln said.

Vicites said he's very interested in forming a team with Lincoln and the nominated row officers - all incumbents. Only one, Mark Roberts, faces a challenge in the fall.

Hardy would not say whether he'd consider teaming with Zimmerlink.

Vicites said even though he received an impressive vote total in an overwhelmingly Democratic county, he's going to continue to work.

"This election is not over, and I'm not going to take anything for granted," he said.

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