Primary 2011/West: Voters often ousted incumbents
Ron Pasic has won the nomination to the West Allegheny school board on both tickets in unofficial results. Here, he waits to greet voters outside the North Fayette municipal building.
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Voter turnout was light Tuesday, but many of those who participated made their voices heard loud and strong by defeating incumbents.
Here's a sampling of unofficial results from a few West races:
Below are links to local county websites and results from Tuesday's primary election:
- Allegheny County
- Beaver County
- Butler County
- Fayette County
- Greene County
- Lawrence County
- Washington County
- Westmoreland County
Election Day turnout was low in Beaver County -- only 24.56 percent. But there were enough votes for incumbent county Commissioners Tony Amadio and Joe Spanik to win the Democratic party nominations. Rick Towcimak finished third.
Among Republicans, Dennis Nichols received 55 percent of the vote and Craig A. Conforti got about 41 percent, according to the Beaver County Elections Bureau.
The five candidates from "The Committee for Carlynton's Future" won all of the Democratic and Republican nominations. The slate included three current board members.
Incumbents Thomas W. Brown and Ronald E. McCartney lost.
A major issue in the campaign was the board's proposal to close the Crafton and Carnegie elementary schools and consolidate the students in a new building to be built in Carnegie. The district serves Carnegie, Rosslyn Farms and Crafton.
The winning candidates are incumbents Betsy Tassaro of Rosslyn Farms, the top vote-getter on both ballots; Sharon R. Wilson of Crafton and Raymond A. Walkowiak of Carnegie.
The other two winners are Jim Schriver of Crafton and David G. Roussos of Crafton, who was president of the school board for eight years when he served from 2001 to 2008 and then decided not to seek re-election.
"There was an issue that was a catalyst" for running again, said Mr. Roussos, a certified public accountant and tax attorney.
The current school board refused to have a referendum on the school consolidation issue, Mr. Roussos said. "This election was the referendum" he said.
"Voter turnout was great," Mr. Roussos said, much higher than countywide turnout. "In some precincts it was as high as 50 percent."
Ms. Wilson, who has a doctorate in psychology and a private practice, has been on the school board for 12 years. She said it is "incredible" that the entire slate won on both ballots. "I thought we might have some run-offs later. I am so grateful to see democracy work."
Although voters seemed to be galvanized in a desire to save neighborhood schools, there are other issues, Ms. Wilson said, including a commitment to basic education. "It's people who make the biggest difference" in education, "not the buildings."
Mayor Robert A. Barone, who has contributed more than three decades of public service, lost his bid to be elected to a full term as mayor.
Mr. Barone, 78, finished third in a three-way race in the Democratic primary Tuesday. The winner was Anthony G. Celeste. The endorsed Democrat, Daniel Larocco, finished second. There were no Republican mayoral candidates.
"I've won elections, and I've lost elections. I'm not bitter," Mr. Barone said, "and I'm still mayor till January."
Council appointed Mr. Barone to the mayor's post in November to succeed Mayor John Haberland, who died Oct. 15 from complications following a fall.
Mr. Barone has been a Democratic committeeman since 1969 and served 20 years on the Cornell school board and 12 years on municipal council. He stepped down as council president when he was appointed mayor.
Three of the five Montour school board incumbents were defeated -- Gregory Clarke, Frank Dalmas and William J. Ewonce Jr.
In Region 1, Mr. Clarke, of Thornburg, and Mr. Dalmas, of Ingram, had campaigned against Thomas Barclay and Dean Caliguire, saying the duo was supported by John Wovchko, the Robinson Democratic party chairman.
Mr. Barclay, of Robinson, and Mr. Caliguire, a former school director from Thornburg, who ran under the banner "Committee for Education First," won the Democratic and Republican nominations in Region 1, which covers Ingram, Thornburg, Pennsbury Village and part of Robinson.
In Region 2, Mr. Ewonce, of Robinson, a school director since December 2007 and a former board president, finished last.
Incumbent John Richards Jr. and newcomers Roberta Stein and Edwin Miller Jr. won the three Democratic nominations, and Mr. Miller, Scott Suess and Duane Faith won GOP nominations for Region 2, which covers most of Robinson.
"The majority of the voters didn't feel that the commitment that I have to this community was worth re-electing me," Mr. Ewonce said in a phone interview Wednesday morning.
"And they either don't know or don't care that I work for the students first, that I care very much about the teachers, administrators and entire staff and that I spearheaded our high school renovation project that had been stalled for the better part of 10 years," Mr. Ewonce said.
In Region 3, the two candidates -- incumbent George Dudash III of Kennedy, who was appointed last year, and newcomer Mark Joseph DiClemente -- will face off again in November. Mr. Dudash won the Democratic nomination, and Mr. DiClemente was the GOP nominee.
Mr. Dudash said the school board has been working in an apolitical manner to make major improvements in the school district.
First Published May 19, 2011 5:21 am