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Election pits Warner against Mari, Mahoney against Dowling

BY TONY SONITA, CONNELLSVILLE DAILY COURIER

Voters heading to the polls on Tuesday also have several local elections in which to cast their votes.

In the race for the 52nd District’s seat, Republican incumbent Ryan Warner (Perryopolis) is facing Democrat James Mari (North Union Township).

Mari is North Union Township’s tax collector. He and his wife, Tracy, have two children, Rachel and Michael.

During his primary race against Lloyd Williams, Mari told The Daily Courier that he had hopes to fix some of the problems facing the district.

“Property taxes are too high for people to pay, especially the elderly on a fixed income. Drugs are tearing our families apart. Politicians in Harrisburg care more about stopping someone else’s plan than offering solution of their own,” he said. “I want to work to fix these problems and be a true representative of everyone in the 52nd district.”

Mari said his goals if elected are to work with state and local government officials to “bring manufacturing jobs that pay a living wage.”

“There are too many people elected to office today that forget why they are there. You are there to be a representative of your district,” Mari said. “That being said, we need to find ways to overcome the partisan road blocks that are controlling state government.”

Mari’s opponent, Warner, told the Courier that he believes that the major issue facing the area is jobs.

“Maintaining the jobs we have, and attracting new employers to our region must be our top priority. We need to look towards the jobs of the future, but we must also ensure domestic energy jobs are able to effectively compete in the world marketplace,” Warner said. “I am supporting and promoting policies that encourage job creators to remain in our region, and new employers to come here. We have a work force that is second to none in Fayette and Westmoreland counties. However, it is common sense that if we have higher taxes, more burdensome and onerous regulations and more hurdles to jump over than other states, companies will take their jobs elsewhere.”

Warner addressed the ongoing opioid crisis plaguing the area.

“During my first term as state representative, I’ve worked hard with like-minded legislators and local community leaders to try to address this issue from the roots of the problem,” he said. “First, we must be tough on the harden drug dealers preying on local residents and put them behind bars. That’s part of the solution that we need to take back our streets.”

Next door in the 51st district, incumbent Democrat Tim Mahoney (Uniontown) is facing Republican Matt Dowling (Uniontown).

Mahoney’s focus during his tenure as state representative has been education and youth. In a recent press release, Mahoney announced that he had worked to help Albert Gallatin and Uniontown school district to receive $25,000 in grants for security cameras.

“All students deserve to learn in a safe, secure environment, and these state funds help ensure that the sanctity of the educational experience in our public schools is preserved,” he said.

Mahoney has also been a vocal supporter of the idea of creating a countywide school district. Additionally, he discussed opioid abuse issues.

“We all know this problem has gotten bigger and bigger, and it’s reached crisis proportions, not just in Fayette and Somerset counties, but throughout the commonwealth,” Mahoney said in an October press release. We also know the standard 30-day treatment approach isn’t sufficient time to help people kick the habit.”

Dowling’s platform also focuses on education and opioid abuse.

“I have two children, a three-year old and a four-year-old, I hope the education they receive affords them the same opportunity I had to return to our community after school, and to live and thrive in our region,” he said. “That said, educational funding needs to become a priority and with that we have to focus on pension reform.”

Dowling said he believes that the drug epidemic is one of the biggest issues the area faces, along with the need for jobs.

“Combating the opioid and heroin epidemic will take a comprehensive approach. That means helping local law enforcement get the resources they need to deal with drug crime as well as procure and utilize Narcan. It means working with healthcare providers to ensure that the opioids being prescribed are truly necessary, to find alternative treatment options, and strictly penalizing doctors who are found guilty of wrongly prescribing these drugs,” he said.

“Finally, we must bring together our schools and drug addiction and treatment specialists to help prevent drug use in the first place.”

Polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 8 p.m.

Tony Sonita is a Daily Courier staff writer. He can be reached at 724-628-2000, ext. 111, or at tsonita@dailycourier.com.

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Jaynes to resign as city treasurer at end of year

BY TONY SONITA, Connellsville Daily Courier 

Connellsville City Treasurer Bruce Jaynes said Wednesday that he will step down at the end of the year.

The announcement came during the city’s budget meeting.

“I told (Connellsville mayor) Greg (Lincoln) I gave it two good years, but I don’t want to be not coming down here and short-changing the city and not doing a good job,” Jaynes said Wednesday. “I’ve been thinking about it for a few months.”

Jaynes said that he recently got married and would like to travel with his family. He will stay on until the end of the year, but has turned in a letter of resignation. The letter will be acted on at city council’s November meeting.

“I respect (Jaynes) for not staying and just collecting a paycheck,” said Lincoln.

The city will accept letters of interest to fill the remaining portion of Jaynes’ term. A new treasurer will need to be elected.

City officials used Wednesday’s meeting to continue to fine-tune the preliminary 2017 budget, due by the end of the year.

The city’s focus continues to surround the city’s $10 per capita tax and mercantile tax.

“I have racked my brain trying to figure out a way to update the address list,” Jaynes said. “Even at that point, how do you send it out to collect it?”

Lincoln noted that the city needs to look at expenditures and issues that can be fixed in 2017. Among them, Lincoln was critical with Pennsylvania American Water for how it handles road construction to fix water lines.

“I know that South Union puts a timeframe on (Pa. American Water),” he said. “As soon as they start digging, they’re on the clock.”

Lincoln said the city should look into adjusting their contract with Hoffman Kennels, saying that Connellsville is overpaying because the state’s third-class city code requires a kennel of record and Hoffman “is the only game in town.”

In 2016, the city will pay $4,800 to Hoffman. Lincoln said he compared the prices with surrounding municipalities and found that Southwest Greensburg is paying $100 a month and $75 for emergency calls, well below what Connellsville pays.

Still, city clerk Vern Ohler said that he believes the city’s budget is well on its way.

“I think we’re a year or two away from where we want to be, but we’ll get there,” he said.

“I think we’re in good shape. I think the city’s in good shape,” Jaynes said. “Tying up some of these loose ends is a good thing.”

Tony Sonita is a Daily Courier staff writer. He can be reached at 724-628-2000, ext. 111, or at tsonita@dailycourier.com.