Election 2012/North: State House results

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

16th District

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

Mr. Matzie said he was gratified that he won, adding "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 Department 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 Wednesday, 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 covers Bell Acres, Bellevue, Crescent, Leet and Leetsdale and parts of Franklin Park and Ross. In Beaver County, the communities are Aliquippa, Ambridge, Baden, Conway, Harmony and part of Economy.

20th District

State Rep. Adam J. Ravenstahl, D-Summer Hill, received 81 percent of the vote. James W. Barr, the Constitutional candidate, received 18 percent of the vote. The district covers Reserve, part of Ross, West View and part of Pittsburgh.

21st District

State Rep. Dom Costa, D-Stanton Heights, was unopposed. The district covers Etna, Millvale, Reserve, part of Ross, Shaler, Sharpsburg and part of Pittsburgh.

24th District

Ed Gainey, 42, of Lincoln-Lemington, was unopposed for his first term. He had defeated veteran East End legislator Joseph Preston in the primary. Mr. Gainey had been an aide to Mr. Preston. This was his third try for the office that the incumbent has held since 1983. The district covers Aspinwall and part of Pittsburgh.

27th District

State Rep. Daniel J. Deasy, Jr. of Westwood, a Democrat, was unopposed. The district covers Avalon, Ben Avon, Emsworth, Glenfield, five communities in the West suburbs and part of Pittsburgh.

28th District

State Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, was unopposed. The district covers Bradford Woods, Franklin Park, Marshall, McCandless, Richland Pine.

30th District

For Marine Corps officer and elder attorney Hal English, the next stage of life as a state representative will be about balanced decisions that benefit his entire constituency, regardless of their political affiliation -- though Mr. English is a Republican.

The contest for the seat, vacated by Shaler Republican Randy Vulakovich when he secured convicted state Sen. Jane Orie's seat during a special election in August, featured two political newcomers -- himself and Democrat David Tusick, 26, of Fox Chapel.

Mr. English, 49, of Hampton, said he thinks the voters responded to his "extensive life experiences. I think people looked at me and my experiences and felt that I had the values and family life that made them feel comfortable."

He said he's grateful to the constituents for their faith in him.

Mr. English, a lawyer since 1987 with offices in Hampton and Ross, served in active duty with the Marines from 1988 through 1991. He retired as a Marine Corps officer in June after 30 years of service, holding the rank of lieutenant colonel.

He had served as a judge advocate, a prosecutor, a defense counsel, an appellate review officer and a legal assistance attorney. In his local legal practice, he works in a variety of areas, including estates, elder law, veterans affairs, and wills.

Mr. English said he'll wait until he takes office to determine the priorities of the job.

"As with any new job, you need to get familiar with things first," he said.

Mr. Tusick, who co-owns an advertising agency, said he was pleased with his first foray into politics and expects one day to throw his hat into the ring again.

"I didn't spend nine months learning about politics to not put that knowledge to use in the future," he said. "I think my campaign helped change the narrative of politics in the North Hills."

The district covers Fox Chapel, Hampton, and parts of O'Hara, Ross and Shaler.

-- By Karen Kane

33rd District

For state Rep. Frank Dermody, the state House party leader, the next two-year term of office representing the constituents of the 33rd District will be about the ongoing battle with Gov. Corbett over what Mr. Dermody calls the "most critical" issues: public education and transportation.

"We have a Constitutional responsibility to provide a public education and the government is the entity to take care of the issues of education and transportation. These are our key functions,'' Mr. Dermody declared yesterday morning, fresh from a victory.

He defeated Republican Gerry Vaerewyck, 50, a West Deer supervisor. It was the second time in two years the engineer and business owner had challenged Mr. Dermody.

"The top priorities will be the priorities we've had with this governor for the past two years. We need to make sure we properly fund our schools so kids get the education they deserve and we have to address our roads, bridges and transit to make sure our transportation system works.

"A viable transit system is needed to compete for business and jobs. And our billion-dollar gutting of the education system has resulted in 17,000 layoffs, activity fees, higher property taxes, larger class sizes and kids and schools suffering. We need to make sure the resources they need are coming from Harrisburg,'' he said.

He previously was an assistant public defender, an assistant district attorney and a district judge.

Mr. Dermody said his volunteers did a good job canvassing the district and he thanked voters for turning out in big numbers.

Mr. Vaerewyck couldn't be reached for comment.

The 33rd District consists of East Deer, Fawn, Frazer, Harmar, Harrison, Indiana, Springdale Township, West Deer, Brackenridge, Cheswick, Oakmont, part of Plum, Springdale and Tarentum.

-- By Karen Kane

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 covers 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

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