Key appointment: The GOP has an important council seat to fill

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Local Republicans have an opportunity, not just for the party but for the good of Allegheny County.

With the resignation last week of Republican Vince Gastgeb from county council after taking a job with the airport authority, the three Republicans left on council will choose someone to serve District 5, which includes Mt. Lebanon, Upper St. Clair, Bethel Park and Bridgeville. That person could decide to run this year and fill the remainder of Mr. Gastgeb's term, which expires at the end of 2016.

In the county's 13 years of home rule government, the closest the GOP came to a majority on the 15-member council was after the 2003 election, when the party held seven seats. If the Republicans want to see their presence in county government grow, they can start by replacing Mr. Gastgeb with a representative who can draw votes from both parties, who doesn't put politics above policy -- in other words, someone like Vince Gastgeb.

In a county where most registered voters are Democrats, the minority party must develop cross-over appeal if it wants to win a majority on council and someday even recapture the county executive's chair. It can start that campaign by making a sensible appointment in District 5.

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