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Late mayor's wife seeks to stay in office

| Thursday, Sept. 18, 2003

Editor's note: This article was modified Friday, Sept. 19, 2003, to correct the spelling of Ina Marton's name.

When White Oak Mayor Milton Lebowitz died Aug. 17 after a lengthy illness with two years left to serve on his term, borough Manager Bruce Jamison said the immediate choice to replace him was obvious.

Earlier this month, council appointed Lebowitz's widow, Joyce, to serve until January, when the winner of a special election scheduled for Nov. 4 takes office.

Lebowitz said Monday that she intends to run for her late husband's seat in that election.

"She was a natural," Jamison said. "She wants to fulfill everything he wanted."

Although Lebowitz's appointment makes her the first woman mayor in the borough's history, another woman could end up leading the community after the election.

Republican and three-term councilwoman Ina Marton will challenge Lebowitz in the November special election.

Marton, who has served 11 years on council, said she was approached about running against Milton Lebowitz in the last mayoral election, but she declined.

"He was my friend and I respected him," Marton said.

Joyce Lebowitz, who served for a time as a local Democratic committeewoman, supported her husband in his political and community endeavors.

"I followed Milton everywhere, I was always by his side," Joyce Lebowitz said. "When they saw him, they saw me."

The fill-in mayor intends to push forward with projects her husband started.

Milton Lebowitz, who served eight years on council and seven as mayor, was lobbying for the widening of Lincoln Way and to get a branch post office there. He also was working to upgrade the police department's equipment. But his pet project was the development of a community center.

"That's all he talked about," said his wife of 50 years.

A staunch supporter of the police department, Joyce said she fought to keep the police department when others wanted to dissolve the 13-member department and contract police services from another community.

The life-long White Oak resident said she has experience in fund raising and getting things accomplished. She helped start the community library as well as the senior center, and is the founder and president of White Oak Animal Safe Haven, a no-kill shelter.

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