NEW CASTLE COUNCIL RACE Taxes, reform top list of issues
The candidates have a mix of political and business experience.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Some familiar names are going to be on this month's ballot for New Castle City Council.
Three former council members and two current council members are among those vying for two seats. There are also three political newcomers in the race.
Voters will have to choose two of five Democrats or two of the three Republicans.
Taxes and government reform seem to be the top issues.
Democrats Christine Sands and John Russo Jr., both former council presidents, say they want tax reform and would support a Home Rule study to look at new forms of government.
"I feel [tax reform] should be pursued because it is never going to happen merely relying on Harrisburg," said Russo, who served on council for 12 years before leaving in 1997.
"Since tax reform in Pennsylvania is not on the fast track, cities must take whatever measures guarantee the viability of those cities. Since Home Rule allows for wage tax instead of property tax, that form of government should be studied to determine what is better for New Castle," she said.
Disagrees: Robert Bullano, who is now council president, doesn't agree with changing the form of government.
"I think we can adapt the current taxation system to work on an equitable level for everyone. We have mercantile tax, privilege tax, personal property tax, sales tax.
We have all of those taxes; all of us must work together and try to adapt a system to work," he said.
Bullano, a Democrat, said his priority, if re-elected, will be to work on a fair and equitable budget by monitoring revenues and expenses.
Another view: Edmund Jopek, who served on council from 1996 to 1999, has another solution to the city's problems. He wants to eliminate street parking meters and sell the city parking garage to a private company.
Selling the garage would mean the city could collect taxes on that property again, he said.
"The four years I served before [on council], we were putting money into it. It's something like Three Rivers Stadium," he said.
Eliminating meters would save the city money because it would cut jobs for those now needed to write the tickets and remove the money, he said. Jopek said he would keep meters in the town square and have police write tickets.
Republican candidate Joseph Sparano wants to become a full-time councilman, spending every day at city hall. This is his first try for political office.
Sparano wants to apply some of his experience in business to work as a city councilman. He has managed hotels, department stores, owned businesses and worked as a teacher.