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Pair's Web site tackles politics



Published: Sat, June 25, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The two met while visiting family in New Castle.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Two city natives, who now reside in Florida, hope their Web site can change the nation's political structure one blogger at a time.

Jerry Sarbo, who lives in Tampa, and Mary McFate of Sarasota created www.leadourleaders.com, a Web site that "wants to change the way politics is done in America."

The Web site's mission is to create a way for the American electorate to communicate what they want from elected officials, as well as to create a nonpartisan, grass-roots politics and public service education center.

Sarbo and McFate have their own blogs -- Web logs -- as well as message boards and polls on the Web site.

The site also is the exclusive home of an online petition for Tommy Hamill, a civilian truck driver kidnapped while in Iraq. Hamill is petitioning his employer to let him return to Iraq to finish the remaining five months on his one-year job assignment in Iraq.

Background

Sarbo and McFate were both born in New Castle. McFate left New Castle as a young child, but stayed in Pennsylvania. She has a degree in political science from Grove City College.

McFate is a Jack -- or a Jill -- of all trades having taught art and film, flown airplanes, climbed a mountain in Korea, lobbied in Washington, D.C., and judged beauty pageants among other things.

Sarbo left New Castle after graduating from high school, relocated to Youngstown, and is a 1965 Youngstown State University graduate. He worked for Mahoning County as a juvenile court psychologist, and later as a professor and administrator at the Penn State Shenango Valley Campus.

Sarbo has been an attorney and money manager, but now describes himself as a "political entrepreneur" as he applies "entrepreneurial skills to solving the world's political problems."

Both have family in New Castle, and visit the city often. About four years ago, the pair met at the New Castle Community YMCA, and struck up a conversation.

"We became instant friends," Sarbo said. "We discussed politics right away. We have a shared concern about politics. We reached a certain level of success, and we're looking to give back a little."

Online forum

That was the impetus for the Web site, launched this month.

"It's a new idea for participatory democracy," McFate said. "We are working on solutions to some of our most critical government and political issues."

The two want to use the Web site to discuss political polarization, the war on terror, the country's deficit, worldwide wealth inequities and the need to preserve the environment while meeting future energy needs.

"There are middle-ground, nonpartisan solutions to these issues," Sarbo said. "If we'd just stop fighting with each other we could solve some of these long-term problems."

People care about these and other issues, but partisan politics has made many of them apathetic, McFate said.

"Politicians are controlling the agenda," she said. "We have to make people realize we should lead our leaders and have them work for us."

skolnick@vindy.com




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