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Election
Allegheny County: McKeesport's mayor beaten

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

By Ed Blazina, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Yesterday's primary election results will bring new leadership to some of Allegheny County's largest communities.

McKeesport and Penn Hills will have new mayors, Plum a new council president and North Fayette will lose a supervisor who has been in office for more than 35 years.

Anthony DeLuca Jr., seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor of Penn Hills, watches election returns last night at Tivoli's Restaurant. He was running against three-term incumbent William DeSantis. (Annie O'Neill, Post-Gazette)

More Primary 2003 Coverage

• Visit Allegheny County's election page for more details on county races.

• Download a detailed .pdf file of unofficial primary voting results for Allegheny and Westmoreland counties published in the late edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this file.


Tables with primary results for Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene and Washington counties will be published in Thursday print editions of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


• For more reports from around the region on yesterday's primary visit our Elections page


Also, voters in Forest Hills approved liquor sales in restaurants and Oakmont residents authorized a bond issue to expand the library.

McKeesport

Council President James Brewster won the mayoral nomination by a landslide over incumbent Mayor Wayne Kucich.

On the Brewster-endorsed ticket, incumbent Councilmen Richard Dellapenna and Regis McLaughlin and newcomers Mike Cherepko and Loretta Diggs led by large margins for the four open council seats, with former Councilman Frank Bazzone in fifth place.

In 1999, Kucich slipped past Brewster by seven votes in a bitter battle.

This year's campaign was more positive, with both candidates taking credit for economic development and a demolition program that has resulted in tearing down more than 400 buildings.

The primary winner is assured of election in November because there were no Republican candidates.

The race for council featured three teams of four candidates, one each that ran with the mayoral candidates and one slate that ran on its own.

North Fayette

Newcomer to the political scene Byron McLean defeated longtime North Fayette Supervisor Louis "Pie" Chauvet for the Democratic bid, putting an end to a 36-year career in township government.

Chauvet, 83, a lifetime resident of the township, will have served six consecutive terms as township supervisor when his term ends in January. Although he originally intended to retire from politics this year, many friends and supporters encouraged Chauvet to give one more term a shot.

McLean, 56, a retired 25-year veteran of the North Fayette Police Department, will face Republican Roxanne Buckles in November. Buckles ran unopposed in the primary.

Plum

Endorsed Democratic and Republican council candidates swept to easy victories, but that meant incumbent Republican council President Clem Barbarino lost his bid for re-election.

Barbarino had teamed with Mayor John Schmeck and other Democrats to take control of council two years ago, but he finished behind three endorsed Republicans for a nomination for a second term.

Richard W. Hrivnak credited the victory of the endorsed Democratic slate of candidates to the revised Plum Democratic Committee, which is headed by his son, Richard A. Hrivnak.

"It's a brand new committee that got organized last year. We had no finances, no support, no records from the old committee," said Hrivnak, 66, a retired Plum School District employee making his first bid for office.

Hrivnak and incumbents Dave Vento and Don Knopfel easily defeated two other challengers. Vento, 50, owner of Vento Maintenance Services, is seeking his second term and Knopfel, 60, fleet manager for the Allegheny County Airport Authority, will be trying for his sixth term.

The apparent winners on the Republican side were former Councilman Chuck McMeekin, 44, who owns a flower nursery and made an unsuccessful bid for mayor two years ago; Don Flickinger, 45, a senior account agent for an insurance company and the son of former council President Al Flickinger; and Russ Oft Jr., 31, an engineer who was making his first bid for office.

Vento said he was disappointed to see Barbarino lose because in-fighting on council had been sharply reduced under his leadership.

"I hate to see [Barbarino lose]," he said. "I hate to see it break up the camaraderie we had on council."

Republican Party Chairman Dave Majernik said the reason Barbarino wasn't endorsed by the GOP is because he never asked for the endorsement.

"He never came to the Republican Committee. He's never attended a committee meeting," McMeekin said.

Penn Hills

First-term Councilman Anthony DeLuca easily defeated two-term incumbent Mayor William DeSantis in the Democratic race for mayor.

DeLuca, the son of longtime state Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D-Penn Hills, had criticized DeSantis for the municipality's high legal fees and for the municipality and school district using separate tax collectors. But DeSantis blamed his loss on the DeLuca name.

"I think his father spent a lot of money because of a personal vendetta against me," said DeSantis, 63, a self-employed investment adviser. DeSantis consistently has been critical of the amount of state money Penn Hills gets.

"I'm a little bit surprised," said DeLuca, 35, an auditor with the state auditor general's office. "I didn't think it would be like this."

DeLuca's victory sets up a rematch in November with Republican Bob Sevcik, who was unopposed in the primary. Two years ago, DeLuca defeated Sevcik to win his council seat.

In the Democratic race for two council nominations, former Controller Yvonne Lamana and incumbent John Depietro were the winners, ousting incumbent Peggy Denham who finished third among eight candidates.

On the Republican side, former Councilman William Pratt and newcomer Joseph F. O'Connor finished ahead of two other candidates.

Baldwin Borough

Incumbent Councilman Michael Fetsko Jr. ran without the Democratic Party endorsement but still managed to win his party's nomination along with incumbents Michael Ducker and David Depretis.

Fetsko, 60, had teamed with activists Scott Bradley and Alexander Denmarsh to run against the endorsed slate. They were part of a group known as the Citizens Alliance, formed primarily to fight against the proposed Holly Hill housing development.

Bradley, who was the target of a mass mailing Monday claiming he didn't pay taxes on time, said they fought the best race they could. He said he hadn't paid his taxes because he was fighting his property assessment.

"If they are going to play dirty like that, what are they going to do every day on council?" he said. "Had we gotten dirty, we probably would have won and put someone in jail."

Fetsko, seeking his fourth term on council, said his reputation in the community helped him win. All five candidates finished within 300 votes of each other.

"I don't really need this ... but I care" he said.

"I think people care about representation in the community. I think it's a wake-up call for council. They can't continue to do what they want to do any more."

Sharpsburg

Richard Panza was the only incumbent councilman to win the Democratic nomination for re-election. Council President Martin Kozlowski Jr. and Leo Rudzki Sr. were defeated by newcomers Mario Ferraro and Larry Stelitano.

Panza, 66, previously served as mayor and was a borough police officer for eight years.

Kozlowski, 49, has served three terms. Rudzki, 72, was appointed to council five months ago following the death of Frank Buccieri, but more than 10 years ago he finished 23 years on council.

Ferraro, 38, is a newcomer to politics who uses a wheelchair. Stelitano, 55, is a retired borough police officer.

The Democrats are assured election in the fall because there were no Republican candidates.

Forest Hills

Voters overwhelmingly supported a referendum to end the borough's decades as a dry town.

The borough's Community Development Corp. was pushing the referendum as part of a plan to revitalize the Ardmore Boulevard business district. It wants to attract restaurants that serve alcohol to increase customer traffic in the borough.

Oakmont

Oakmont voters were clear. They want their Carnegie Public Library expanded. They said so by a 3 to 1 margin.

The library's board of directors went to borough council for help after more than four years of trying to raise more than $2 million for the project.


Staff writers Ann Belser, Judy Laurinatis and Jim McKinnon and freelance writers Jonathan Barnes, Jackie Day, Cheryl Cherico and Jan Adam contributed to this report.

Ed Blazina can be reached at eblazina@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1470.

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