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House Democrats fend off competition

| Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2004

Two veteran incumbents were re-elected to their seats in the 25th and the 54th legislative districts in the race for the General Assembly during Tuesday's election, according to unofficial results.

In the 25th District, Democratic incumbent Joseph F. Markosek easily won his 12th term in the state House over Republican challenger Ed Nicholson.

With 100 percent of five precincts in Westmoreland reporting, Markosek, 54, of Monroeville, captured 61 percent of the votes versus Nicholson's 39 percent, according to unofficial results.

In Allegheny County, unofficial tallies showed Markosek netted 72 percent of the votes, compared with Nicholson's 28 percent, with 45 of 46 precincts reporting. The district is made up of communities in both Westmoreland and Allegheny counties.

During his campaign, Markosek had opposed a commuter tax but favored only a small increase in the $10-per-year occupational privilege tax. He also favored Act 72, which gives school districts a portion of slot machine revenues if they increase local income tax. The revenue would become "a financial windfall in the long run" for school districts, he said.

Nicholson, 46, also of Monroeville, said he didn't see too many alternatives to a commuter tax. He rejected Act 72 in favor of a flat tax for everyone.

The 25th District includes Trafford, portions of Murrysville, as well as Monroeville, North Versailles Township, Pitcairn, Wall and Plum in Allegheny County.

With 35 of 39 precincts reporting at press time, incumbent Democrat John Pallone, a member of the state House since 2001, garnered 65 percent of votes cast in the 54th District, while Republican challenger Scott Witon received 35 percent. In Armstrong County, Pallone won 62 percent of votes with 92 percent of the district reporting at press time.

Pallone, 44, of New Kensington, said Act 72 was a "win-win situation for everyone."

Witon, 52, of Murrysville, said he opposed Act 72 as it exists. He favored auctioning licenses for slots machines to help with property tax relief.

District 54 includes Arnold, Allegheny Township, Lower Burrell, Upper Burrell, Export, New Kensington, and portions of Penn Township and Murrysville in Westmoreland County, as well as Bethel, Cadogan, Gilpen and Park townships in Armstrong County.

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