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Murrysville Council hopefuls want to retain area's character

| Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Although Marcellus shale gas drilling is the hot political issue in Murrysville, three candidates for council said a range of issues will affect the municipality's future.

Four candidates, including an incumbent, are vying for three Republican nominations in the May 17 primary: Joshua Lorenz, a member of the planning commission; Bill Vance, a former township auditor in Mercer County; Covey Wise III; and Regis Synan, council vice president.

Two council members are not seeking re-election. Dennis Pavlik has reached his term limit, and Councilwoman Nancy Kacin decided not to run again.

Synan declined to participate in the election preview.

Lorenz, 37, said those elected in November will have to address issues ranging from economic development to fiscal responsibility.

"The future of Murrysville is at stake," Lorenz said. "The decisions we make right now are going to affect us for years to come. I moved to Murrysville because I liked the area and its rural character. I'd like to see those continue."

Retaining the community's "character" while continuing to grow was cited by Vance, 73.

"I would like to see the municipality remain a family-oriented, basically bedroom community without any heavy commercial development," Vance said. "Maintaining the rural atmosphere of the community is important."

Wise said he, too, enjoys the municipality's rural character, but he would like to see the main corridors of Murrysville developed while retaining the municipality's character and keeping residents safe.

"Those are the things that attracted me to Murrysville," said Wise, 34. "I'd like to see the promotion of small-business development that could attract more families."

Lorenz, Vance and Wise, if nominated and elected, likely won't have much to do with Murrysville's initial foray into Marcellus shale drilling. However, all three candidates said the industry will play an important role in the community during the next several years.

All three said they favor allowing drilling in Murrysville while protecting the community.

"I'd like to see the residents benefit from the gas production," Vance said. "But at the same time, we need to protect the property and rights of all residents."

Lorenz said it is important to protect property rights and the health and safety of residents. He said water and soil must be protected. He said he likes what Murrysville officials have come up with in developing a municipal ordinance for drilling.

"We need to balance the rights of drillers and those who would participate in a way that protects everyone," Lorenz said. "We need to accommodate those who want to participate in drilling and protect those who do not. That's what is most important."

Wise said he is in favor of responsible drilling. He does not support a ban on the drilling because it has become a state battle, he said. He wants to see regulations that are fair to residents, landowners and companies.

"We need something that is going to protect the environment as well as allow drilling to be done in a responsible manner," Wise said. "I believe it is going to be a good thing for the local and state economy."

Joseph Guthrie is the sole candidate on the Democratic ballot in the primary.

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