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Rostraver candidates cite growth, tax controls

| Saturday, May 12, 2012, 2:45 p.m.

Growth and taxes in Rostraver Township need to be kept under control, say the five commissioner candidates competing in the May 20 primary for three spots on the Democratic ticket.

Three of the five are incumbents. There are no registered Republican candidates seeking the four-year term.

Of 8,052 registered voters in the township, 5,589 are Democrats, according to records at the Westmoreland County Election Bureau.

Newcomer Thomas G. Patterson Jr., 64, of 211 Central Ave., said he started thinking about running for commissioner when he started thinking about retiring. If elected, he'd be following in the footsteps of his father, former Commissioner Tom Patterson Sr.

"My father was involved and I always said I wanted to do that when I retired," Patterson said.

He said he wants to help control township growth, to ensure that the roads and sewage system keep up with property development.

Patterson is employed by Lowes Improvement Warehouse, and also does outside contracting as a plumber. He and his father operated a builders supply store together for 35 years. Patterson is married and has two sons.

The other newcomer, Tomm Lazar, 52, of 374 Lutz Run Road, is a retired Pennsylvania State Police trooper who served for 26 years. He has been a member of the township's recreation board for more than 20 years.

Lazar said he will focus on bulking up the township's various advisory boards and pursuing grants, especially those that would benefit senior citizens. He also wants to make sure that township taxes don't become a burden for those who live on a fixed income.

"I waited and now I think is a good time to run," Lazar said. "There are a lot of things on my mind."

He is married, and has a son and a daughter.

Incumbent George A. Martin, 63, of 583 Porter McNutt Lane, is the current chairman of the board and has been a commissioner for four years.

In addition to controlling development, Martin said it is important to concentrate on highway safety, particularly along Route 51.

A retired teacher from the Elizabeth-Forward School District in Allegheny County, he is president of Martin's Flower and Shrubs on Route 51.

"I feel that with my experience and with my business background, I bring a lot to the table," he said.

Martin is married and has three sons.

Incumbent Nick Lorenzo, 59, of 223 Sylvan Drive, currently serves as vice chairman of the board. He has been a commissioner for 20 years.

"My goal is always to service the best interest of the residents of the township at the lowest possible cost," he said. "And I always support planned growth."

Lorenzo said he wants to keep the township growing, while avoiding a tax increase. Extending public water and sewer service is also important to him.

Lorenzo is retired from Local 354 Plumbers and Steamfitters and is a lifetime member of Webster Volunteer Fire Department. He has been a member of the Mid-Mon Valley Transit Authority for almost seven years.

Lorenzo served in the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division from 1962 through '65 and belongs to numerous veterans' organizations. He has a son and a daughter.

Incumbent Brian L. Sokol, 40, of 311 Comanche Drive, is completing his eighth year as a commissioner.

"I think we have a good working government that keeps everything (taxes) as low as possible," he said. "For the last four years, our government has provided a first-class service to our residents at no increased cost."

Sokol has been with Rostraver Central Volunteer Fire Department for 23 years, seven of them as chief. He has worked for Allegheny Power for 16 years. He is married and has a daughter.

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