Editorial: Cindric in the 27th / He's the best reform challenger to a House veteran
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It will soon be clear whether the great public revolt that forced the state Legislature to rescind last summer's infamous pay grab has run out of steam. Judgment day for many lawmakers comes with the primary election on May 16.
But how to judge? Throwing the bums out will not do any good if the replacements are bums themselves. And should an incumbent's accumulated experience count for nothing against that early-morning blunder last year?
The Democratic primary in the 27th Legislative District is one of those places where these questions loom large. The district includes neighborhoods in Pittsburgh's West End as well as Avalon, Ben Avon, Crafton, Dormont, Emsworth, Glenfield, Ingram, Neville and parts of McKees Rocks and Stowe.
The 27th has a 13-term incumbent, Rep. Thomas Petrone, who took the pay raise. It has three challengers who are vocal critics of the raise -- Mike Galovich, Frank Liberatore and Dan Cindric. (A Republican candidate, Bill Ogden, is unopposed in the primary.)
On the pay raise, Mr. Petrone, 68, of Crafton, is a Fred Astaire when it comes to the political soft shoe. He says he argued against the pay raise behind closed doors before it passed, then voted for it, then donated it to help constituents, then voted to rescind it and is now paying it back.
To offset this issue, Mr. Petrone seeks to remind voters of his record since being elected in 1980. As the minority chairman of the House Urban Affairs Committee, he takes pride in his supportive role in projects that have benefited the region and boasts that his constituent service is second to none.
While the pay raise stirs all of Mr. Petrone's rivals, they are also focused on property taxes and the plight of seniors. Frank Liberatore, a 79-year-old retired construction engineer from Ingram, wants to get rid of school taxes completely by raising the sales tax and the state income tax. (But how high would they have to go?)
Mike Galovich, 46, of Crafton, who says he is running because he wants to restore trust and accountability to government, is no less sincere about wanting to help seniors. Although he is not emphatic about eliminating the property tax entirely, he does favor at least reducing it through a combination of small increases in the sales tax and state income tax. Mr. Galovich is employed as a supervisor in a section of the Allegheny County Register of Wills Office.
In seeking to reduce the property tax burden on seniors, Dan Cindric has an advantage over the other two challengers to the incumbent: He has practical knowledge gained as a member of Crafton Borough Council, to which he was first elected in 1999. Crafton gives seniors with annual incomes less than $30,000 a 25 percent discount on local taxes. Mr. Cindric, a 56-year-old engineer, recognizes that property taxes can't be eliminated entirely, but is for reducing them by raising the sales tax and income tax.
As well as being properly aggravated by the pay raise, Mr. Cindric also has valuable expertise on water and sewage issues vital to this region's future (he is chair of the Southern Communities Basin Group, representing 36 communities in Allegheny County concerned about these issues).
Dan Cindric earns the Post-Gazette's endorsement. Not only is he reform-minded, but he also has the credentials to match his good intentions.
First Published April 14, 2006 12:00 am