Out with the old and in with…?

We’ve all had a few weeks now to process the local election results and come up with any number of theories to explain the results. Was it a whiplash in response to national politics, or an extension of the anti-incumbent sentiment seen in past elections? Or were citizens voting a little less blindly than some would like to believe?

The theory that Democrats just wanted to get rid of Republicans is incorrectly bolstered by a statistic on straight party voters. The Allegheny County elections Web site posted that more than 70 percent of straight party voters were Democrats. More than a few misguided individuals took that to mean that 70 percent of all votes cast in the November election were straight party Democrats, but that is not the case. The statistic applies only to those who actually cast a straight party vote, which means people who bypassed voting for individual candidates and simply hit the “Democrat” or “Republican” button at the beginning of the ballot. If 100 people voted straight party, then about 70 of them were Democrats and about 30 percent of them were Republicans.

I would be more inclined to believe there was a Democratic rebellion if we had seen Democrats take over areas that are Republican strongholds, like Ohio Township, but there was not a Democrat to be seen on that ballot.

But whatever the reason for the election results, we now are facing a significant loss of experience and leadership in at least two towns, Bellevue and Ben Avon, where the majority of both borough councils will be comprised of people who have never before held elected office.

Bellevue has even less depth on its bench, with three of the four incumbents having less than two years’ experience. As my good friend, former Bellevue mayor and longtime council member Rose Heflin used to say, “It takes them two years just to figure out where the restrooms are.” With the exception of Linda Woshner, who has been on council for decades, none of them has even chaired a committee, let alone prepared themselves to be president of council. The only possible exception among this fog of cluelessness is Tom Hrynda, who at least has spent many years on the planning commission and dealing with zoning matters, in addition to knowing every inch of the borough like the proverbial back of his hand.

What will these elected officials do when put to the test in January? It will be interesting to find out exactly whose interests will come first.