22 Candidates Line Up for Ward's Seat

Article excerpt

Twenty-two people submitted applications by Friday's deadline to fill the Republican vacancy on the Westmoreland County Board of Commissioners.

County judges will select from the pool of applicants a replacement for outgoing Republican Commissioner Kim Ward, who will resign Dec. 12. Ward was elected last month to the state Senate after serving one year as county commissioner.

She will replace outgoing Sen. Robert Regola, a Hempfield Republican who did not seek re-election after serving one term.

Ward's replacement will serve the remaining three years of the commissioners' term. The job pays $70,000 annually.

Westmoreland County's 11 Common Pleas Court judges will convene at noon in Courtroom No. 3 on Thursday to hear brief speeches from applicants who chose to do so. The presentations, during which candidates will be allowed to speak for several minutes, will be open to the public.

Court Administrator Paul Kuntz said he expected the judges to select Ward's replacement that afternoon.

Candidates had to be registered as a Republican when Ward was elected commissioner in November 2006.

The list of applicants includes a former county commissioner, two sitting mayors, a township supervisor, lawyers and businessmen.

One applicant, retiring state Rep. Jess Stairs of Acme, said yesterday he would just serve the remainder of Ward's term and not seek re-election.

Democratic commissioners Tom Balya and Tom Ceraso said they would be able to work with the applicant selected by the bench.

"I don't have an objection to anybody," Balya said.

"There are some people there who are more than qualified to be a commissioner," Ceraso said.

Among the applicants are William Davis, who served one term as a county commissioner in the late 1970s before leaving for a cabinet post with former Gov. Richard Thornburgh.

Murrysville Mayor Joyce Somers, Latrobe Mayor Tom Marflak and Washington Township Supervisor Joseph Dalsass have applied for the post.

The list also includes five lawyers -- Scott Avolio of Greensburg, Wayne McGrew of Sewickley Township, James Liberto of New Kensington, Pamela Neiderhiser of Jeannette and James Whelton of Greensburg.

McGrew, Somers, Avolio and Scottdale funeral director Robert Ferguson were endorsed by the county Republican Committee for the opening.

Local Republicans last month set up an endorsement process in the hope that it would limit the number of applicants for the job.

Four years ago county judges selected Phil Light from a pool of three dozen candidates who sought to replace Commissioner Terry Marolt, who died about nine months into his term. …