Meadville Tribune

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May 21, 2013

Incumbent Hills wins Republican nomination in Vernon Township

VERNON TOWNSHIP — Incumbent Alden Hills is one step closer to retaining his position on the Vernon Township Board of Supervisors after winning the Republican nomination in a three-man primary Tuesday.

With complete but unofficial totals from the township’s two precincts, Hills won with 245 votes. Dick Astor had 132 votes, followed by Denis Alexatos with 42.

“I wasn’t expecting to be that far ahead, but I’ll take it,” said Hills. “That was the lowest voting number I ever remembered.”

If elected to a six-year term on the Board of Supervisors, the 14-year veteran supervisor hopes to continue Vernon Township’s trend of economic growth by supporting general, supervisor-approved public service projects and working amicably with the board’s current members, citing a well-established history of township improvement through their service.

“I thank the people who supported me and my workers,” Astor said Tuesday. He was disappointed by the turnout, pointing out that a majority of the township’s Republican voters failed to cast a ballot. “The people I needed to get out to vote,” he said, “the people who should be concerned about the vision and future of the district did not get out and vote.”

“(Hills) is a real gentleman,” said Alexatos. “I like and respect him, but up on the stand (at supervisors’ meetings) he doesn’t say anything. The board needs someone who will speak up and push issues. I’ll have to do it from the floor again.”

Hills won despite flip-flopping on participating in the sole public forum for candidates. About 24 hours after agreeing to participate, he pulled out, saying that township voters knew him well enough already.

Apparently he was right. During the campaign, Hills did not aggressively push a particular platform, stressing instead his years on the board, the commercial development the township experienced during that time, the health of the township’s finances and the quality of municipal services such as the police department.

Astor spoke out in support of major community developments like “Vernon Place,” Meadville Medical Center’s plan for the former Meadville Mall property on Route 322. The design anticipates shopping areas, education centers and medical facilities to attract people and businesses.

He stressed his experience as a Meadville Medical Center board member and retired Conneaut School District superintendent as providing valuable experience managing people, money and projects.

Alexatos promised a friendly hearing for local and small-time developers he believes will provide future commercial development in the township.

Alexatos sought to bring his background in business and construction and lifelong dedication to his fellow residents to the board.

Candidate platforms also differed on township funding for the Meadville Area Recreation Complex (MARC).

Astor, who has served on the MARC board of directors, voiced support for the township’s annual MARC allotment, recently cut by Hills and the current board of supervisors from $50,000 to $40,000.

Alexatos believes the township should take care of its own recreational facilities before concerning itself with regional entities like the MARC.

While Hills’ nomination doesn’t outright guarantee him the supervisor position, it certainly increases the likelihood of election. No Democrats sought the nomination, so it would take a write-in campaign of near unprecedented local success to keep him from winning a new term in the fall.

Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kfekos@meadvilletribune.com.

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