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City Voters Choosing Mayor,
School Board on Tuesday

- McKeesport mayor challenged by former councilwoman
- White Oak council seats in play

By Staff Reports
The Tube City Almanac
November 04, 2019
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, Politics & Elections, White Oak News

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Politicians Endorse 'Marsy's Law,' But Some Worry it Goes Too Far

County DA Race Adds Excitement to Municipal Elections

Some of the excitement over the hotly contested race for Allegheny County district attorney has spilled into local politics.

Lisa Middleman, an independent who is challenging incumbent District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr., has lent her support to Fawn Walker-Montgomery, who is running for mayor of McKeesport.

A former city councilwoman, Walker-Montgomery is challenging Mayor Michael Cherepko, who has said he's running on the strength of the "McKeesport Rising" initiative that his administration launched two years ago.

Cherepko, a former city council president and McKeesport Area school teacher, is seeking his third term as mayor. The Democrat is asking voters to keep together the team responsible for "McKeesport Rising."

"McKeesport Rising" has targeted neighborhoods throughout the city for removal of blighted buildings, street paving and infrastructure improvements, as well as expansion of facilities at Renziehausen Park and along the city's waterfront.

The mayor says "McKeesport Rising" is "a dynamic plan of action" to "create jobs, rebuild and protect our neighborhoods, improve recreation and grow our tax base so that every citizen shares in a better McKeesport."

Among other successes, Cherepko cites the addition of more than $18 million in state and federal aid to the city during his administration; and the relocation to McKeesport of several businesses, including Dura Bond, Vegely Welding and River Materials, now under construction near the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge.

Last year, the city received $2.9 million to relocate the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail from surface streets to its own dedicated path along the edge of the Monongahela River, and to renovate the closed Lysle Boulevard parking garage for use by patrons of Port Authority's McKeesport bus station as well as tenants in the former Daily News Building.

"Our slogan of 'Working Together For a Better McKeesport' has become much more than a slogan --- more like an invitation," Cherepko says. "Consider this your invitation to help play a small part that can make a huge impact on the future of our fine city."

Cherepko is endorsed by state Rep. Austin Davis and state Sen. Jim Brewster, a former McKeesport mayor.

Walker-Montgomery is a longtime political activist who served two terms on McKeesport city council and twice ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for the seat currently held by Davis.

On council, she was a critic of both Cherepko and Brewster.

Walker-Montgomery is running as an independent and has attracted endorsements from Duquesne Mayor Nickole Nesby and state Rep. Summer Lee of North Braddock, who is supporting Walker-Montgomery through her UNITE PAC political action committee.

In addition, Middleman has campaigned with Walker-Montgomery.

Like Middleman, she's urging voters to "skip the ticket" and go directly to her name.

Walker-Montgomery says Cherepko's campaign consists of "window dressing" and "photo ops," and has attacked him for declining to debate her.

She vows to reduce crime and drugs in McKeesport by "addressing poverty and inequality as the root cause" and to support "progressive reform, policies and initiatives that serve everyone in McKeesport, not just a privileged few."

McKeesport City Council

Barring successful write-in campaigns, few of the other local candidates face challengers.

In McKeesport, four incumbent members of city council --- Tim Brown, Keith Soles, Richard J. Dellapenna and LuEthel Nesbit --- are running for four vacant seats. All four are Democrats.

McKeesport Area School Board

Likewise, five terms are expiring on McKeesport Area School Board, and five people are running for the spots --- incumbents Jim Brown, Steve Kondrosky, Joe Lopretto and Mindy Sturgess, and newcomer Diane Elias.

Kondrosky and Lopretto --- the current school board president --- cross-filed in the primaries and are running as both Republicans and Democrats. The others are running as Democrats.

White Oak Borough Council

There is competition in White Oak, where six candidates --- three Republicans and three Democrats --- are running for three four-year terms.

Democratic candidates include David J. Pasternak, incumbent and current council president, along with George C. Pambacas and Donald Govanucci. Republicans include incumbents Lou Bender and Charles Davis, as well as Janet Gerber.

Two candidates are running for a two-year term on White Oak council, Julie Opferman, a Republican, and incumbent Stephen Pholar, a Democrat.

Originally published November 04, 2019.

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