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Write-in candidates in Alle-Kiski Valley races win party nominations

| Friday, June 22, 2007

County election workers spent the last two weeks notifying some area candidates that they have come out on top in the May primary -- even though their names weren't on the ballot.

Write-in votes determined the outcome in a variety of Alle-Kiski Valley races involving few or no contenders. While most of the write-in winners were already running for office on the opposite party's ballot, some were not officially running at all.

That includes Bonnie Sherbondy, 62, who won both Democrat and Republican nominations for a seat on Leechburg Council. Sherbondy is now in the running for one of four council seats that will become vacant when terms expire at the end of the year.

Two current council members, President Anthony Defilippi and Robert Foster, are seeking re-election, but missed a filing deadline, leaving no one on the ballot.

Sherbondy decided one week before the primary to launch a write-in campaign.

The biggest factor in her successful bid, she said, was word of mouth. Since retiring from Alcoa's contractor purchasing services, Sherbondy has become active in community life -- particularly involved in issues surrounding Leechburg's "curb appeal."

"I would like to see things cleaned up, people taking responsibility for their homes" she said. "That would encourage more people -- and young people -- to move in."

Sherbondy, Defilippi and Foster received a combined 476 write-ins. One more spot on Leechburg Council will remain open to write-in nominations in November's general election.

In the race for Kittanning Council, one write-in candidate defeated a contender appearing on the ballot.

Thomas Close, 74, received 65 write-in votes in the 3rd Ward to win the Democrat nomination over Mary C. Piluso, who received 57 votes. Close also won the Republican nomination as a write-in.

Close is frustrated with what he sees as irresponsible council spending and hopes to control tax increases by controlling borough expenses. Running for office, he said, was a natural choice.

"I should have done it a long time ago," he said.

Close inspired a friend, Dick Reedy, to take up his own write-in campaign for Kittanning Council.

When it comes to financial responsibility, Reedy said, "Tom and I are in the same ballpark.

"The Kittanning board has been going over its head, spending money like it's going out of style," he said.

He gave the example of a fire truck council recently purchased.

"I don't know how they're going to pay for it," he said, "and I'm not sure they do, either."

Reedy, who was a council member from 1968 to 1972, won the Republican nomination for the 4th Ward.

He does not expect that being elected would allow him and Close to tighten Kittanning's budget overnight, but hopes that it would signify the beginning of change in the board room.

"Six to two," he said, "is better than eight to zero."

Write-in winners

Here's a look at candidates who received enough write-in votes in the May primary to qualify for a major party nomination for the general election in November. Indicated next to each name is the party associated with the win, which for many candidates means a second party nomination. Only those who formally accept by the end of this month will appear on the ballot. A (D) denotes a Democrat Party nomination and (R) a Republican.

Allegheny County

• Cheswick Council: Lewis Accorsi (R)

• County executive: Dan Onorato (R)

• Fawn supervisor: Edward J. Reifschneider (R)

• Highlands school director: Debra A. Beale (D), Walter Stanowski (D)

• Indiana Township supervisor: Barbara Cisek (D)

• Oakmont Council: Jared R. Heller (D), Thomas R. Bland Jr. (D)

Armstrong County

• Prothonotary: Brenda C. George (D)

• County treasurer: Sonie Mervis (D)

• Ford City Council: Tom Shaffer (D)

• Kittanning Council: Thomas Close (D, R), Dick Reedy (R)

• Leechburg Council: Anthony Defilippi (D, R), Bonnie S. Sherbondy (D, R), Robert T. Foster (D, R)

• North Apollo Council: Don Acker (D), Edward M. Hall (D)

• North Buffalo supervisor: Gary Klingensmith (D)

• Parks Township supervisor: F.L. "Bud" Shannon (R)

Butler County

• Buffalo Township supervisor: Albert Roenigk (R)

• District attorney: Randa Clark (D)

• Winfield Township supervisor: Glenn E. Nagle (D)

Westmoreland County

• Sheriff: Chris Scherer (R)

• Murrysville Council: Nancy Kacin (D), Dennis Pavlik (D), Regis Synan (D)

• Murrysville mayor: Joyce K. Somers (D)

• New Kensington-Arnold school director: Carol Ansani (D)

• Oklahoma Borough council: Lisa Cali (D, R)

Source: Certified election results

Some ballots remain blank

Most write-in winners plan to accept their party nominations and add their names to the general election ballot in November, according to election officials, but many races throughout the Alle-Kiski Valley will still be left without candidates.

In more than 120 contests in Allegheny County, for offices ranging from auditor to mayor, no one ran and no single write-in candidate garnered enough votes to qualify for a nomination.

Butler County officials report that "many, many" races go without candidates, especially at the local level.

Those positions will be on the ballot again this fall, but with no candidates listed. If no one wins, local boards will be authorized to fill the empty positions by appointment.

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