LaValle has served for 17 years as state senator.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR PENNSYLVANIA BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. — A longtime state senator who represented a large portion of Lawrence County will not seek re-election this year.
State Sen. Gerald LaValle, 75, announced last week that he would not seek office when his term ends this year.
He has been a state senator in the 47th District since 1990 when he won the job in a special election held after the retirement of state Sen. James R. Ross of Beaver, Pa.
LaValle’s district includes most of Lawrence County and portions of Beaver and Allegheny counties.
“I consider him a class act. I think his tenure as a state senator for Lawrence County was wonderful. Beaver County has twice the constituents, and Lawrence County used to be an afterthought for previous state senators,” said Richard Christofer, chairman of the Lawrence County Democratic Party and former mayor of New Castle.
Christofer said during his term as mayor LaValle would stop by his office three or four times a month to see if the city needed any help on the state level.
Tim Fulkerson, also a former mayor of New Castle, said he had the same experience as Christofer. But, Fulkerson said he was even more impressed because Fulkerson is a Republican and LaValle a Democrat.
“He was very, very helpful to me. He took New Castle to heart and he really helped me,” Fulkerson said. The state senator was able to secure funding for the annual fireworks festival and the Cascade of Lights, a Christmas display held each year at Cascade Park, Fulkerson said.
After LaValle’s first election in 1990, he was subsequently re-elected to four full consecutive terms of office, the last of which will expire at the end of 2008.
LaValle began his career in public service as a councilman and mayor for the borough of Rochester in Beaver County and later served as a Beaver County commissioner.
LaValle could not be reached to comment but did issue a press release statement: “I take great pride in having had the opportunity to represent the good people of the 47th district who are among the most honest, loyal and hard-working individuals found anywhere in our Commonwealth.
“I further appreciate having had the good fortune of serving with some of the finest public servants, both Democrat and Republican, that anyone could hope for.”
LaValle will serve through the end of 2008 and will continue his work as Democratic chairman of the senate appropriations committee.
Christofer said no Lawrence County residents have come to him expressing an interest in running for LaValle’s seat.