The county treasurer and controller posts are also up for election.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR PENNSYLVANIA BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. — There’s little doubt that Lawrence County is poised for potential economic development over the next few years.
And the four candidates vying to be elected Lawrence County commissioner say it’s their top priority.
Two incumbents, Democrat Steve Craig and Republican Dan Vogler, will be pitted against Rick DeBlasio, the other Democratic nominee, and Shirley Sallmen, who is on the Republican ticket. Voters will elect three.
Longtime Commissioner Ed Fosnaught unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination in the spring.
Craig and Vogler say they want to continue working toward economic prosperity in the county that they believe the current board of commissioners played a role in attracting.
Only a few months ago, the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission announced it would award its last harness racing license to Centaur Inc., an Indiana-based company that plans to build a new track and slots casino in Mahoning Township, off U.S. Route 422. There was also the announcement of a new campus to be built by the Butler County Community College in Union Township on U.S. Route 224.
“The major issue in our race is which candidates are best able to lead this county into the future given the opportunities that the present board has worked so hard to foster. It is my firm belief that my background and experience have prepared me for this challenge,” said Craig, who is ending his first term as a county commissioner.
Vogler, also ending his first term, says he will continue to work with people from the private and public sectors to prepare for the growth. He intends to continue efforts with the county’s economic development, tourism agency and chambers of commerce to enhance promotion efforts in the county.
Rick DeBlasio, a former New Castle council member, said promoting a positive environment for growth and business will be among this priorities if elected.
“We have to market Lawrence County as best we can and let it be known that it is the best place to locate a company and live,” DeBlasio said.
He’s also interested in sound fiscal management and fostering cooperation among the county and elected local and state officials.
“We need to work together so we can be like one big loud voice in Harrisburg,” he said.
Sallmen also promotes working with local elected officials to move the county forward.
“I believe if we put our heads together, I think this thing can blossom,” she said. “We can encourage businesses to locate here.”
Sallmen said she would like to reopen the county budget in January, if elected, and determine if taxes can be reduced.
“My No. 1 priority is taxes. I want to make sure my vote supports senior citizens and parents with young children,” she said.
There are two other contested races in county government.
Republican William Messner and Democrat Richard Rapone are vying for the county treasurer’s post. The job was left vacant more than a year ago when Treasurer Gary Felasco was convicted of theft from office and sent to prison.
Ron Patrick was appointed treasurer by Gov. Ed Rendell earlier this year, but is not seeking the post in the election.
Messner said he wants to restore the trust of the taxpayers in the office. One of his first priorities would be to set up a system to pay taxes online.
He cites his 12 years as a registered investment adviser and business owner as his qualifications for the job.
Rapone did not respond to a Vindicator questionnaire concerning the election.
In the controller’s race, incumbent Democrat Mary Ann Reiter will face Republican nominee David Gettings. Neither candidate responded to the Vindicator’s request for information.