Ben Avon: Pick four for council

A field of seven candidates -- four Republicans and three Democrats -- will provide voters with lots of choices to fill four vacant seats on Ben Avon Council.

Only two of the candidates -- Democrat Richard White and Republican Brian Tokar -- are incumbents.

Republican Philip Brind'Amour and his wife of 35 years, Vicky, moved to Ben Avon from Phoenix 27 years ago, and have raised three children in the borough. An employee of US Airways since 1984, he is a contributing writer for the DIY Web site He served in the U.S. Army as a military policeman from 1972 to1974, and is a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Emsworth.

A lifelong Ben Avon resident, White began his public service career as an administrative staff employee of the Allegheny County Department of Real Estate after earning a degree in political science and public policy at the University of Pittsburgh. At Pitt, he. was news director at radio station WPTS-FM. In his capacity as chairman of the administration committee of Ben Avon Council, White says he has been instrumental in identifying opportunities to improve the efficiency of borough finance and administrative functions.

Republican Michael Wrbas is a career banker and currently vice president and branch manager of First Niagara Bank in Bellevue. He is a 25-year resident of Ben Avon, where he and his wife, Mary, have raised their family. A veteran of Desert Storm with 30 years' service, including military police command, Wrbas is a retired major of the U.S. Air Force Reserve and Pennsylvania Air National Guard. He is an Eagle Scout, a Eucharistic minister at Sacred Heart Church, a fourth-degree member of the Knights of Columbus and a former lieutenant with the Allegheny County Sheriff's Uniformed Reserve.

Julian Wynnyckyj is a former U.S. Army combat medic whose military service led to a career that has progressed from chemical weapons disarmament consultant to manager of development and sales in nuclear, biological and chemical weapons detection and decontamination to pharmaceutical sales representative and sales instructor to higher education finance manager. He holds a BA degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from South University. He served eight years in the U.S. Army Reserve-National Guard until his honorable discharge in 1998. He and his wife, Kim, and their daughter, Leila, have lived in Ben Avon since 2001.

Tokar and his wife Amy have been Ben Avon resident since 2000. They have two children who attend Avonworth Elementary. His professional background is in finance, marketing, strategy, and consulting with Pepsi, Heinz and The Nielsen Company. He graduated from Duquesne University with honors and a BS in degree in finance, and with an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh Katz School of Business. He has served as chair of council’s finance committee for the last two years.

Democrat Jennifer Bett is the wife of current council member Michael Bett, and a 19-year resident of Ben Avon. She earned a master's degree in public management from Carnegie Mellon University, has spent over 20 years working with non-profits, ran her own small business for seven years, and currently am the compliance manager with the Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation at Carnegie Mellon University. Bett says that she continues to raise her two daughters while volunteering in the neighborhood “to make our community a better place to live.” She is a member of Avon Club and board member of the Community Theatre Players and Friends of the Ben Avon Bookmobile.

Democrat David Holcombe could not be reached for comment.

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