Upsets in local races

While Bellevue may have had the most contentious races in the 2013 general election, some of the most surprising results came in the neighboring boroughs of Emsworth and Ben Avon. All vote totals are unofficial until certified by the Allegheny County Elections Department.

Northgate School Board

Three of the five candidates on the ballot for four seats on the Northgate School Board had a decided advantage by being listed on both the Republican and Democratic tickets, and they led the race in votes. The fourth seat was the focus of the race, with Bryan Johnston of Bellevue on the Democratic ballot and incumbent Daniel Klicker of Avalon on the Republican ballot.

Johnston wrapped up the race with 1,021 votes from Bellevue and Avalon voters, while Klicker had only 761.

The ticket was led in both boroughs by Lisa Saylor, who picked up a total of 1,218 votes. Amy Joy Robinson, who campaigned as a team with Saylor, received 1,123. Both women are residents of Bellevue. Jennifer McWilliams of Avalon had 1,077 votes.

Bellevue mayor

Former mayor Paul Cusick came out on top of a three-way race that included a write-in candidate who threatened to pull some of his Democratic votes.

Those votes turned out to be unnecessary for Cusick, as he garnered 640 votes to the 468 received by Republican challenger Joe Scioscia Jr.

In what may be a political first in Bellevue, there were 98 write-in votes cast in the borough’s mayoral race. Current council member Jane Braunlich, who lost the Democratic nomination to Cusick in the primary, returned to the arena as a write-in candidate who objected to the fact that Cusick had been a politically active Republican until switching his voter registration just before running for mayor.

It is unknown exactly how many of the write-in votes were for Braunlich.

Bellevue Council

Two incumbents and one newcomer were elected to Bellevue Council on Tuesday, and will join the two new second ward Democrats chosen in the primary.

In the first ward, incumbent Republican Kathy Coder made a dramatic comeback after losing every district in the borough in her bid for a state house seat last year. This time around, Coder led the ticket in both first ward districts, picking up a total of 242 votes.

Just behind her in the first ward was Democrat Henry Lenard, who received 207 votes and will take the second open seat from the first ward.

Of the other two candidates, Democrat Mike Braunlich received 164 votes and Megan Swackhammer had 142.

In the third ward, incumbent Democrat Lynn Tennant Heffley defeated Republican challenger Grant Saylor 238-199.


The Emsworth Council election results were nothing short of shocking, as voters chose two former council members who had resigned their seats over the current council president.

Tom Maletick Jr. resigned earlier this year because of career demands that prevented him from attending meetings, while Dan Lenz resigned last year after being arrested twice. Both Democrats, however, received enough votes to take a seat on council in January. Maletick had 199 votes, and Lenz had 205.

Leading the race were Democrat Jason Helfrich, an incumbent, and newcomer Carolyn Galante, a Republican. Helfrich received 244 votes, and Galante had 236.

Eliminated from council was its current president and most senior member, Republican Paul Getz. He received 189 votes.

In the election for Emsworth tax collector, Democrat Laura West edged past Republican William Rumpf, 98-92.

Ben Avon

Ben Avon voters tossed an incumbent and whole-heartedly followed the endorsement of a number of former and current borough officials in electing a primarily-Republican “bipartisan” ticket.

There were four open seats on the borough council, with the Republicans offering four candidates and the Democrats fielding three. A citizen group comprised of former and current officials, both Republicans and Democrats, culled their own ticket from the list, endorsing Republicans Julian Wynnyckyj, Philip Brind’Amour and Michael Wrbas along with Democratic incumbent Richard White.

All four of the candidates won, resulting in a loss for incumbent Republican Brian Tokar and Democratic challengers Jennifer Bett and David Holcombe.

White led the ballot, garnering a total of 305 votes. Wynnyckyj picked up 238 votes, followed by Brind’Amour with 236 and Wrbas with 231.

Bett, whose husband is a member of council, received 185 votes, while Tokar had 149 and Holcombe had 202.

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