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League: Voters Will See New Mail-In Ballots

March 01, 2024 |

By Danielle M. Smith - Public News Service | Posted in: Politics & Elections

This photo from the Bucks County, Pa., elections division shows the new yellow secrecy ballot that will be supplied to all Pennsylvania voters for the April primary. (Bucks County, Pa., official photo)

Learn more about mail-in and absentee ballots in Pennsylvania

With Pennsylvania’s primary election less than 60 days away, a nonpartisan group is stepping up the pace to educate people on voting by mail and by absentee ballot.

A redesigned mail-in ballot will debut statewide in April for more than 8 million registered voters.

The ballot materials are barcoded, so no individual voter can be identified, said Jessica Myers, who co-chairs the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania’s voter services. The new ballot also has graphics and updated instructions to help voters understand the mail-in process.

“The secrecy envelope has a yellow background with sort of a blue-gray colored watermark that says ‘Official Secrecy Ballot,’” Myers said. “There are some additional color coding and instructions on the outside of the envelope, including where the voters declaration is. It’s prefilled with a ‘2-0’ so that we have fewer people writing in their birthdates.”

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Brewster Confirms His Retirement from the Senate

January 11, 2024 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Politics & Elections

State Sen. Jim Brewster speaks to the media about the COVID-19 pandemic during the summer of 2020 as former Gov. Tom Wolf looks on. Brewster has announced that he will retire at the end of his current term. (Tube City Almanac file photo)

Confirming speculation that emerged in December, state Sen. Jim Brewster this week announced plans to retire at the end of his current term.

The McKeesport Democrat said Thursday that serving the 45th Senatorial District “has been an honor, privilege and pleasure,” but that after 14 years in the state senate, “it is time to explore other options and take on new challenges.”

Local elected officials, including Lt. Gov. Austin Davis and McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko, paid tribute to Brewster’s career in public service, which also has included stints as a McKeesport city councilman and mayor from 2003 to 2010.

“Jim Brewster has upheld a lifelong commitment to McKeesport and the entire Mon Valley,” Cherepko said in a prepared release. “He is a hardworking, goal-oriented leader, who has always strived for the growth of our region. He does this with a kind heart and genuine concern for his neighbors and constituents. I’m proud to call him a mentor and a friend.”

The race to replace Brewster is expected to be hotly contested.

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Speculation Rising About 45th District Seat

December 08, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Politics & Elections

Speculation is rising about the future of the 45th District seat currently held by state Sen. Jim Brewster of McKeesport.

An automated text-message poll currently being conducted in the Mon-Yough area claims Brewster is “unlikely to seek re-election” and then asks recipients, “which of the following Democrats would you be most likely to support to replace him?”

The poll lists state Rep. Nick Pisciottano of West Mifflin, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko, Monroeville Mayor Nick Gresock and Brentwood social worker Makenzie White.

Brewster, who has represented the 45th District since 2010, declined comment on Thursday. White has already launched a website for her candidacy for the Democratic nomination.

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Two MASD Directors Lose Re-Election Bids

November 08, 2023 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Politics & Elections

Two incumbent McKeesport Area school directors appear to have lost their bids for re-election.

Complete but unofficial returns from the Allegheny County elections bureau showed current school directors James Brown, a Democrat, in sixth place, and Joe Lopretto, a Republican, in seventh place. Five seats were up for re-election.

Mark Holtzman, who was cross-filed, led the field with 3,534 votes, followed by Jason “Shun” Pavlecic (cross-filed), Diane Elias (cross-filed), Matthew Keller (Democratic) and David Seropian (Republican).

Brown was caught up in a minor scandal in the closing weeks of the campaign, when he was accused of using a homophobic slur in an argument with a resident at the August school board meeting. He and other members of the board apologized for the incident.

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Dems Sweep County Offices — Except for DA

November 08, 2023 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Politics & Elections

In an image from live video, former state Rep. Sara Innamorato celebrates her election as Allegheny County’s first woman chief executive with well-wishers at Mr. Smalls Theater in Millvale. (Facebook)

Democrats had a good night across Allegheny County on Tuesday — with one notable exception.

With 99.7 percent of the returns counted, former state Rep. Sara Innamorato was on pace Wednesday morning to become Allegheny County’s first woman chief executive, and other members of the party were capturing row offices and county council seats.

But Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr., running as a Republican, held off challenger Matt Dugan, winning re-election to a seventh term thanks in part to strong support in the Mon-Yough area.

Incomplete and unofficial returns from the Allegheny County Elections Bureau showed Zappala leading Dugan by nearly 12,000 votes with all but four precincts counted.

Dugan, a Democrat, defeated Zappala in the May primary, but Zappala won the Republican nomination with write-in votes, setting up the rematch.

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‘Vote Art’ Urges Community Participation

October 30, 2023 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: Politics & Elections

Mon Valley community leaders who participated in Friday’s “Vote Art” event included Judith Moore, founder of Saving Our Sisters Now; Luther Sewell, founder and publisher of Talk Magazine; Roxanne Sewell, president and editor of Talk Magazine; Demetrius Baldwin, community activist; at Fawn Walker-Montgomery of Take Action Advocacy Group, and, kneeling, Rikell Ford of Kindred C.U.L.T.U.R.E. (Submitted photo courtesy Take Action Advocacy Group)

A group of Mon Valley community leaders on Friday urged residents to get out and vote in the Nov. 7 municipal elections.

The program, called “Vote Art,” was held at The Spot on 8th, an event center in Homestead.

Partners included Fawn Walker-Montgomery, chief executive officer and co-founder of Take Action Mon Valley/Take Action Advocacy Group; Demetrius Baldwin of Mon Valley Peoples Action; Rikell Ford of Kindred C.U.L.T.U.R.E; Judith Moore, chief executive officer and founder of Sisters Saving Ourselves; and Luther and Roxanne Sewell, founders of Talk Magazine, Pennsylvania’s only statewide publication focused on Black and African American news and culture.

“I feel like there’s a lot of power in this room (and) knowledge in this room, and I was moved by the things I heard,” Baldwin said.

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Election Officials Need 40,000 to Work Polls

September 19, 2023 |

By Danielle M. Smith - Public News Service | Posted in: Politics & Elections, State & Region

Election Day is less than two months away, and for the process to go smoothly, Pennsylvania needs a lot more poll workers. Many of the 8.7 million registered voters in the state would be eligible to work at the polls for the November 7th municipal elections.

Lauren Cristella, League of Women Voters board member and president and CEO of the Committee of 70, a voter education group, said 40,000 Pennsylvanians are needed twice a year to ensure elections happen.

The state is also recruiting 17-year-olds to serve as poll workers, if they get permission from their school principal and a parent or guardian.

“Poll workers are our first, best defense against election fraud, anything that would cause disenfranchisement of voters,” Cristella said. “Fully-staffed, well-trained poll workers make voting easier for everyone. So, we took that as an important part of our mission, to make sure that these important roles are filled.”

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Cherepko Cruises To Victory; Some Results Still Out

May 17, 2023 |

By Tom Leturgey | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, Politics & Elections

(Additional reporting from Jason Togyer)

Incumbent McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko won Tuesday’s primary election, easily defeating two vastly different challengers for the Democratic nomination.

According to incomplete and unofficial returns from the Allegheny County Division of Elections, Cherepko is holding a 20-point lead over his nearest rival, Corry Sanders, 52. Joe Lopretto was in third place with approximately 17 percent of the vote.

However, an official tally may not be available until Friday. Two city precincts — Ward 8, District 4, and Ward 12, District 3 — have not yet reported complete results. Countywide, 29 out of 1,324 precincts have reported incomplete results, elections officials said.

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Cherepko Faces Two Challengers for Re-Election

May 14, 2023 |

By Tom Leturgey | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, Politics & Elections

The race for mayor of McKeesport has a great deal of intrigue, as voters will report to polling places in just a few days.

In many races throughout Allegheny County, including the race for mayor of McKeesport, there are no official Republican challengers. Barring a successful write-in campaign during November’s election, the winner of the primary will be sworn in as mayor.

McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko, 46, has been in office since 2012 and is hoping to secure the Democratic nomination on Tuesday. The Penn State University graduate was a fifth-grade teacher in the district before becoming an elected official. He touts his “Working Together for a Better McKeesport” as a successful motto.

In this year’s Democratic primary he faces two challengers who both emphasize their “outsider” status, Joe Lopretto, 58, a retired McKeesport police officer, and Corry Sanders, 52, a church deacon, barber and business owner.

All three candidates received an questionnaire with identical questions. In addition, reporter Tom Leturgey called Lopretto and Sanders on May 2 and May 12, and sent questionnaires to Sanders and Lopretto via their official Facebook pages.

Lopretto and Sanders did not respond to Leturgey’s phone messages or Facebook messages, though both have been using Facebook to share their campaign statements and positions.

McKeesport has about 17,700 residents as of the 2020 census.

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Five Board Candidates Offer Viewpoints

May 14, 2023 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, Politics & Elections

Five of the candidates running for McKeesport Area School Board have offered their views on pressures facing the district, relating to student achievement, building safety and charter schools.

There are 13 candidates filed to run for five seats on the school board, which has nine members in all. In addition to the city, the school district serves Dravosburg, South Versailles Twp., Versailles and White Oak.

School board elections are officially non-partisan and candidates may file to run in more than one party. Of the 13 candidates, 11 are filed as both Republicans and Democrats, while two have filed only as Democrats.

The primary election is this Tuesday. Voters from each party will choose candidates who will run in the general election in November.

In April, Tube City Almanac mailed a questionnaire to all 13 candidates at their homes, and a reminder was mailed one week later. All candidates received the same questions. Five candidates had responded as of May 13:

Jeffery Anderson (Democratic)

Diane Elias (cross-filed Democratic/Republican)

Matthew Keller (cross-filed Democratic/Republican)

Matthew Mols (cross-filed Democratic/Republican)

Cameron L. Preston (cross-filed Democratic/Republican)

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