New faces ready to take their seats among North Hills' political leadership - North Journal

New faces ready to take their seats among North Hills’ political leadership

Saturday, January 4, 2020 | 12:01 AM


Voters in the North Hills used the power of the ballot box in November to change the makeup of leadership in their municipalities.

Here are the new people taking office:

Franklin Park

Three of the four incumbents who sought re-election to Franklin Park council lost their bids to political newcomers.

In the race for the Ward 1 seat, Dr. Jiang Li picked up 58.9% of the votes cast to defeat incumbent Republican Councilwoman Laura A. Coombs, who ran uncontested in the primary.

No Democrats sought the party’s nomination in the spring primary, but Li received 67 write-in votes from Democrats to secure the party’s nomination to challenge Coombs.

Li is a medical scientist who moved from Downtown to Franklin Park with his wife nearly 10 years ago because they believed it was the best place to raise their children, according to written responses to questions posed to candidates by the Trib prior to the election.

Vying for the two-year term as Ward 2 council representative were incumbent Republican Lucas Myslinski and Democrat Susan Striz. Both ran uncontested in the primary.

Striz defeated Myslinski on Nov. 5 with 51.72% of the vote to win the seat.

Striz is an attorney. She said the biggest challenges facing Franklin Park are two sides of the same coin — community planning and governmental transparency.

She said the community has grown significantly in the past 10 years, but borough government has not worked with its residents to develop a comprehensive plan outlining how the community should grow.

In Franklin Park’s Ward 3, incumbent Republican Councilman James Lawrence, who faced no challenge for his party’s nomination in the primary, was unseated by Brian Malkin, who made it onto the ballot with 57 write-in votes from Democrats in the spring.

Malkin is an attorney. He said some of the biggest problems the borough faces go hand in hand and are simple and solvable.

Malkin, who served on the borough’s Zoning Hearing Board, said the municipality suffers from overdevelopment that, in turn, leads to problems with runoff from stormwater.

Both issues, he said, can be addressed by modifying borough ordinances.

Incumbent Republican Councilman John Parks defeated Democratic challenger Matt Ferriolo to retain his seat for a four-year term as the Ward 2 representative.

Town of McCandless

Voters elected three new representatives to McCandless’ seven-member council.

Republicans voting in the May primary declined to nominate Ward 3 incumbent Councilman Steve Mertz to run for a second term, going instead with newcomer Chuck Mazur.

Mazur picked up 53.03% of the ballots cast on Nov. 5 to defeat Democrat Deawna Alfonsi, who ran uncontested in the primary.

Mazur is a retired project and business manager. He describes himself as a a fiscal conservative whose initial goal on council will be to establish additional cost controls and budget scrutiny.

Additionally, Mazur hopes to help restore civility and transparency and eliminate the recent turmoil on council.

Two candidates squared off for the Ward 5 seat, for which first-term incumbent Republican Greg Walkauskus did not seek reelection.

In the May primary, Joe Beierle defeated Angela Woods for the GOP nomination.

No Democrats sought the party’s nomination in the spring, but Woods received enough write-in votes on the Democratic ticket to run against Beierle in November.

Woods went on defeat Beierle with 60.6% of the votes cast.

Woods is a stay-at-home mom. She said communication with residents and addressing future development are among the biggest challenges facing McCandless.

Woods said she will seek to expand the ways the municipality connects with residents and would like to develop incentives for the redevelopment of select areas of the town that will have the biggest impact on stormwater management and attract business investment while respecting nearby residential areas.

Also deciding against seeking re-election was long-time Ward 7 Councilman Bill McKim.

In the primary race to replace McKim, both party nominees — Democrat Patricia Cloonan and Republican Patrick Semon — ran uncontested.

Cloonan defeated Semon in the general election with 50.57% of the votes cast.

Cloonan is a Realtor for RE/MAX Select Realty.

Among her goals are encouraging responsible development that keeps the interest of residents in mind, and creating incentives for small businesses to fill existing commercial space that is available instead of soliciting development from big-box corporations.

Ward 1 incumbent Councilwoman Kim Zachary defeated Greg Martin to win re-election to a second term.

Ross Township

Three of the four incumbent Ross Township commissioners who sought re-election survived general election challenges to retain their seats.

Only incumbent Ward 5 Commissioner Grace Stanko, a Republican, failed to garner enough votes to win another term, losing her seat by 10 votes to Democratic challenger William A. McKellar.

McKellar is a retired director of safety and security for the North Hills School District.

Some of his goals include working to keep businesses in the community and revitalizing the township’s vacant properties. MeKellar also wants to maintain a balanced budget while still providing the needed services for the community and neighborhoods.

Democrat and Republican voters in Ward 3 nominated candidates in the primary to replace Republican Commissioner Rick Avon, who did not seek a second term.

Democrat Sarah Poweska picked up 54.86% of the vote on Nov. 5 to defeat Republican nominee Sandra Lee Miller.

Poweska said some of her goals will be to maintain a high level of community engagement by strengthening communication between the township and residents. She also wants to ensure the township offers a wide range of activities, programs and recreational opportunities and addresses its aging infrastructure.

The incumbents who won re-election are Dan DeMarco, Ward 1; Pat Mullin, Ward 7; and Jack Betkowski, Ward 9.