Election 2012/West: State Reps retain seats

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Here's a recap of the state House races in West, according to unofficial results from the Allegheny County Department of Elections:

State House 10th District

For the second election in a row, Jaret Gibbons, D-Franklin, edged out Republican challenger Michael See.

Mr. Gibbons, 32, said he was pleased with large support in Lawrence County, especially in his hometown of Ellwood City.

"I think people saw through all the negative attacks and saw what I and my office are doing for people in these little communities," he said.

Mr. Gibbons plans to continue to work on downtown projects to revitalize small towns, promote job creation and a fair tax system.

His opponent, Mr. See, 31, said he is confident that he ran a great campaign, but was brought down by a tough political environment.

"I don't think it was meant to be for anyone on our ticket this year," said the North Sewickley Township native. "I don't think we did anything wrong. Our message was correct. The political winds were just at our face instead of at our back."

His hope is that Pennsylvania's leaders will begin to make the state more attractive to business to halt the trend of young people having to move away to find jobs. The district covers portions of Beaver, Butler and Lawrence counties.

--Taryn Luna

Sate House 15th District

Jim Christiana, R-Beaver, secured another term by defeating challenger Bob Williams of Hopewell.

"This election was a referendum on my job over the last two years and whether or not I kept the commitments I made two years ago of helping to grow Beaver County's jobs environments, to balance budgets without raising taxes and living within our means, and make Pennsylvania transparent," said the 29-year-old Beaver native.

He said the results showed that his constituents believe he kept his promises and trusted him with another two years to lead. He hopes to continue to work to bring a petrochemical plant to the region, tackle the pension crisis and pass a balanced budget on time.

When asked about potential challenges he may face, Mr. Christiana said that he's worried that continued uncertainty in Washington, D.C. could lead to "tough times for the states."

Mr. Williams, 56, said he began with little name recognition outside the business community and was pleased that his grass roots campaign amassed more than a third of the vote his first time running

"I had less than $25,000 into my campaign," he said. "To get that amount of vote, that tells you something."

He admitted to being surprised that some of the Democratic precincts didn't go his way, but learned that a good campaign should begin the day after the election, not two weeks before the primary filing date, when he elected to run.

Mr. Williams, who has worked in real estate for 36 years, said he isn't giving up on his political aspirations.

The district, which has a large Democratic voter advantage, contains Center, Monaca, Hopewell, Shippingport and other central Beaver County communities.

-- Taryn Luna

State House 16th District

State Rep. Robert F. Matzie, an Ambridge Democrat, held on to the seat he first won in 2008, defeating Bellevue Councilwoman Kathy Coder, a Republican.

Mr. Matzie said he was gratified that he won, saying "we stayed the course and never wavered" from issues important to his district. Like most incumbents, he ran on his record, and said the election results indicate taxpayers liked what he has done. He said the final numbers and the margin of victory "was about what we thought it would be."

Unofficial returns from the Allegheny County Board of Elections show 15,476 votes for Mr. Matzie and 11,975 for Mrs. Coder.

"I'm glad it's over," Mr. Matzie said, referring to "the negativity that was out there against me and other candidates. It was over the top and overkill."

He said his opponent sent out more than 20 negative mailings about him.

Mrs. Coder, contacted by telephone yesterday, said "It's been pretty emotional for me. I did not think I would be this emotional but it's hard when you put your heart and soul into something.

"This was a journey. I learned a lot. I knocked on 12,000 doors and met a lot of nice people," said Mrs. Coder, who owns her own leadership development business.

She was surprised and disappointed to learn that "I lost every precinct in Bellevue. I don't know what happened." She also noted that about 60 percent of district voters are Democrats.

Asked if she wishes she would have done anything different during the campaign, Mrs. Coder said, "I keep getting bad press about running a negative campaign. I never did go negative despite what [Mr. Matzie] says. I approved 15 mailers. About four of them called him out on his record."

Some mailers viewed as negative were sent out by PACs, she said, but she concluded, "I would not do anything differently. I could not have worked harder."

In Allegheny County the district includes Bell Acres, Bellevue, Crescent, Leet and Leetsdale and parts of Franklin Park and Ross. In Beaver County the district includes Aliquippa, Ambridge, Baden, Conway, Harmony and part of Economy.

-- Linda Wilson Fuoco

State House 44th District

State Rep. Mark Mustio, a Moon Republican, had a commanding win in the seat he has held since 2003, defeating Democratic challenger Mark Scappe, who had served 12 years on the Moon Area school board.

"I am happy with the returns," Mr. Mustio said, "especially in a presidential election year" when high voter turnout includes people who don't vote in every election.

Unofficial returns show him with 20,177 votes to Mr. Scappe's 12,445.

The big margin of victory "is testimony to the hard work of my staff and I would like to take some credit for my work in Harrisburg."

Mr. Scappe, an engineer, said, "naturally I am disappointed. It was a learning process and an adventure. I can build on it and learn. Definitely I will stay involved. I'm still a member of the Moon Transportation Authority."

"We will see" about future political runs, he said. "In the right situation I might venture into another" race.

The district includes Aleppo, Ben Avon Heights, Findlay, Haysville, Kilbuck, Moon, North Fayette, Ohio Township, Osborne, Sewickley, Sewickley Heights and Sewickley Hills, and parts of Collier, Edgeworth, Robinson and South Fayette.

-- Linda Wilson Fuoco

State House 45th District

State Rep. Nick M. Kotik, R-Robinson, said he is "very gratified" and "very happy" to win re-election by a 2-1 margin. "It is overwhelming." He defeated Republican Aaron. L. Kime of South Fayette.

"I will continue to reach out" to Republican legislators and to the governor "who has not been working in a non-partisan way," Mr. Kotik said. This is his 10th year in this office.

In this campaign "I was very fortunate not to be subjected to negative ads" that other legislators "were subjected to," he said.

Mr. Kime did not respond to requests for interviews.

The district covers Bridgeville, Carnegie, Coraopolis, Heidelberg, Kennedy and Pennsbury Village and parts of Collier, McKees Rocks, Robinson, Scott, South Fayette and Stowe.

State House 47th District

Republican Elder Vogel Jr. of New Sewickley won a second term against Baden Councilwoman Kimberly Pazzanita Villella.

Mr. Vogel, 56, said his re-election proved that his constituents in a district that stretches from Allegheny to Lawrence and Beaver counties are pleased with his performance.

"People got to know me over the past four years and knew that I was a person who kept my word," he said. He plans to continue to work to balance the budget without raising taxes and to promote big business growth to bring more jobs to the region.

Ms. Villella, 49, said she was financially over matched against Mr. Vogel, who ran a negative campaign that she didn't have the resources to combat.

"That's a leading issue, not only in my race, but across the board," she said. "It's disappointing that the trend seems to prevail."

Ms. Villella, who started her own business at 19, and has worked in the beauty industry and in manufacturing, said politics were never her ambition and she ran because she thought Pennsylvania was moving in the wrong direction.

"I gave it my all," she said. "I ran a great race. I ran a positive race. I worked as hard and diligently as I could. I had great support from a network of family and friends. My goal when I started was to make a difference in Beaver County and I feel like I've already done that."

-- Taryn Luna

neigh_west - electionsmunicipal


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