Vote 2019

 

LOCAL RACES

This guide only includes candidates in contested races. The candidates were invited to participate by email and given one week to reply. Each candidate’s reply sent to the Tribune by the newspaper’s deadline has been printed. The candidates are listed according to their position on the ballot. 

 

CRAWFORD COUNTY COMMISSIONER

 

Democrats

Vote for not more than two

Term: Four years

  

Dan Hunter

Address: Meadville

The candidate did not complete a questionnaire or return it by the Tribune’s deadline.

  

Jeanne Moore-Yount

Address: 13421 West Cole Road, Conneautville, PA 16406

Date of birth: November 12, 1954

Education: Graduate of Ford City High School, attended New Castle Business College with a major in business administration

Occupation: 43 Years as a news media executive, employed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, PA

Experience: An experienced news media executive with demonstrated leadership skills and a proven track record for exceeding goals and producing impressive operational and financial results. I’ve developed and lead high performance teams by maximizing customer service and human resources initiatives by formulating new ideas, concepts and products for growth.

Question: What is the No. 1 problem facing Crawford County and what specifically would you propose to solve it? (100 words or less)

A. Fiscal Responsibility. Implement monthly financial reporting to ensure we are meeting our budgeted projections and not exceeding previous year’s performance. Conduct a zero-based budget and inventory audits to ensure we are controlling all material and supply budgets. Required detailed back up for any expense requests. Review contracts, invoices, potential conflicts of interest brought before the board. Implement best practices program. What works best in other counties and adapt here. Reward employees for finding expense savings. Take government back to quadrants of the county to get resident involvement and feedback.

 

John Christopher Soff

Address: 267 Jefferson Street, Meadville, PA 16335

Date of birth: January 5, 1964 

Education: 1982 graduate Meadville Area Senior High School, 1982 graduate Crawford County Vocational-Technical School (now Crawford County Career and Technical Center); 1986 graduate The Pennsylvania State University, bachelor’s degree in French.

Occupation: County Commissioner

Experience: 2016-present, Crawford County Commissioner; 2010-2016, Mayor, The City of Meadville; 2006-2010, Meadville City Council; 1993-1997, Crawford Central School Board; Shippen Fountain Committee, former chairman; Shade Tree Commission, former chairman; Meadville Area Water Authority, former member; Streetscape Committee, former member; Meadville Medical Center Finance Committee, former member; Community Health Services, former board member; various local service and social clubs, former business owner and insurance accountant. 

Question: What is the No. 1 problem facing Crawford County and what specifically would you propose to solve it? (100 words or less)

A. The No. 1 problem is matching the hundreds of available jobs, in a variety of sectors, with the people in our county who are seeking employment. Many employers have told me the barriers to employment are skills, finding persons who commit to showing up for work and being able to pass a drug screening. Several avenues in our county already exist that assist people committed to finding employment. Solving the issue will not come from one person, rather the entire community must continue to spread the word about the opportunities available if people are willing to take advantage of them.

 

Republicans

Francis F. Weiderspahn Jr. 

Address: Fairfield Township

The candidate did not complete a questionnaire or return it by the Tribune’s deadline.

  

Richard (Ricker) Copeland

Address: 16258 State Hwy 18, Conneautville, PA. 16406

Date of birth: April 28, 1972

Education: Linesville High School, Crawford County Vo-Tech, Protective Life Insurance and Annuities

Occupation: Commercial and residential landscaper and contractor

Experience: 30+ years of business experience

Question: What is the No. 1 problem facing Crawford County and what specifically would you propose to solve it? (100 words or less)

A. Wasteful spending. We need to be good stewards of our money that is available. Tighten up loophole with regards to contracts, an example is judicial ceilings being too low and had to buy new machines to fix. Should have been engineers problem, not ours. If we’re losing money on the county home, for the last 4 years,and if we are breaking even now, we still have a deficit lease. We should sell to a private buyer to make it great on our tax roll. Cell phones — we should use our own with a government discount.

 

Eric Henry

Address: West Mead Township

The candidate did not complete a questionnaire or return it by the Tribune’s deadline.

  

Paula Jo Lynch

Address: Meadville

The candidate did not complete a questionnaire or return it by the Tribune’s deadline.

  

 

SHERIFF

 

Republicans

Vote for one

Term: Four years

 

David L. Powers

Address: Saegertown, PA

Date of birth: 1968

Education: Mercyhurst College Act 120 Certification Municipal Police Academy; Firearms Instructor - PA State Police; Penn State Sheriff Academy; FBI Sniper/Observer Camp Perry, Ohio; Allegheny Patrol Rifle School; Penn State Firearms Instructor School; Penn State Patrol Rifle Instructor School; Penn State Train the Trainer School; Indiana University Advanced FTO- Field Training Officer School; PA State Police Interviewing & Interrogating; PA State Police Accident Investigation; PA State Police Managing a Crime Scene; PA State Police Close Quarter Combat; PA State Police Vehicle Stop Tactics System Innovations - Electronic Speed Timing Device ( V.A.S.C.A.R.); PA State Police Auto Theft Investigation; PA State Police Tactical Shooting; Gang Awareness Training; and Temple University – Flying While Armed.

Occupation: Deputy sheriff with Crawford County.

Experience: 22 years as Meadville Police Department officer, retired with rank of sergeant and lead firearms instructor; 4 years as deputy sheriff of Crawford County and firearms instructor. 

Question: What is the biggest issue facing the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office and what specifically would you propose to solve it? (100 words or less)

A. Security in the old courthouse is the biggest issue in the near future. Moving the District Magistrate and Domestic Relations Office into the building is going to change the security needs of the building considerably. Both offices currently have an armed security officer at their offices now. Both offices have the potential to bring highly emotionally charged incidents to the building that could affect other offices as well. I plan on working with the judges, county commissioners and office leaders to find the safest and most affordable compromise that will still provide a viable solution.

 

Neil Fratus

Address: Meadville PA 16335

Date of birth: May 5, 1977

Education: Titusville High School graduate; Sheriff’s Deputy Academy, Class 22; Penn State 2006

Occupation: Current Chief Deputy of the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, 6+ years

Experience: I started in the Sheriff’s Office 13 years ago as a deputy, moved up to the lieutenant position and shortly after into the Chief Deputy. I have been the Chief Deputy for 6 years and hope to continue up the ranks to become the next Sheriff in 2020. 

Question: What is the biggest issue facing the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office and what specifically would you propose to solve it? (100 words or less)

A. The biggest issue is the impact of the recent budget cuts and current financial state of the county. I would work to create standardize policies and procedures that would help in regards to our budget and impact on the county taxpayers. During this process, I would collaborate with other Sheriff’s Departments to bring revenue directly into our office using proven techniques that have been effective in their departments. Through this collaboration, we will generate revenue while maintaining the safety and security of the courthouse and judicial center.

 

MEADVILLE CITY COUNCIL

Term: Four years

Vote for not more than two

 

Democrats

 

Jan Bialous

Address: 900 Market St., Meadville Pa 16335

Date of  Birth: July 22, 1956

Education: Bachelor’s degree in natural science from California 

Occupation: Industrial sales and marketing representative

Experience: 35 years of national and regional industrial sales experience, specifically to heavy and light industrial manufacturers, in addition to state, county, and local municipal customers. Well developed communication and relationship building skills needed to be a effective City Council member. Community development experience in Rehab to Resale housing, welfare to work and criminal offender return to work programs, Local organizational membership includes President of the Meadville Wolves Club, Meadville Roundtable, Thurston Classic Balloon Festival volunteer, Meadville Knights of Columbus, St. Mary’s Meadville Catholic Church usher, and the Crawford County Historical Society.

Question: What is the No. 1 problem facing the City of Meadville and what specifically would you propose to solve it? (100 words or less)

A. The number one problem facing the City of Meadville is the ability of local employers to attract and retain professional, skilled and qualified employees. The solution would involve an effective cooperative of the local employers, the City of Meadville, and Crawford County. One part of this cooperative would involve a formal marketing program highlighting the benefits of the city to these new employees. These benefits include affordable housing, community security, excellent local medical facilities, and a true downtown with unique shopping, entertainment, and dinning options. These new employees would generate economic growth on many fronts.

 

Jack Harkless

Address: 568 Cullum St. Meadville PA 16335

Date of birth: May 25, 1991

Education: Bachelor’s in communications, minor in political science from Allegheny College.

Occupation: Program specialist for the Barber National Institute

Experience: Crawford County Democratic Committee Vice Chair, Leadership Team My Meadville; Eagle Scout, and Father.

A. The number one problem facing Meadville is our widening economic gap. Between tax increases, high paying jobs leaving, and housing prices, the burdens on our young families, those just starting out, and the people on fixed incomes are the heaviest. I believe I could alleviate some of these burdens by working to find new sources of revenue for the city such as code enforcement and additional grants, pooling resources with local organizations to do more in the community, and by fighting to ensure the wellbeing of the 60 percent of those in our community who are not yet homeowners.

 

Larry McKnight

Address: 596 Remler Alley, Meadville, PA 16335

Date of birth: October 9, 1956

Education: I graduated from Thiel College and studied sociology and criminal justice at Edinboro University

Occupation: Truck and bus driver

Experience: I have experience with a number of public and social service agencies, including Bethesda Youth Service, VisionQuest, Metro Health Center in Erie, and Community Alternatives. I also worked as a driver for the Crawford Area Transportation Authority (CATA), and this experience in particular, especially the input I heard from local residents, is one of the reasons I am running for City Council.

Question: What is the No. 1 problem facing the City of Meadville and what specifically would you propose to solve it? (100 words or less)

A. The biggest problem facing the city is disinvestment in housing and public spaces. My top priorities if elected are ensuring quality housing and expanding community programs, especially for youth. The city should work to acquire more state and federal funding for housing rehabilitation, and it should also work to ensure that housing code standards are met. This can be done with regular inspections to protect tenants, prevent deterioration, and keep up neighborhoods. Additionally, I want to foster shared community resources by improving our parks, establishing neighborhood hubs, and reviving summertime opportunities for youth.

 

Autumn Vogel

Address: 230 Mount Hope St., Meadville, PA 16335

Date of birth: September 15, 1992

Education: Bachelor’s in psychology, minor in values, ethics and social action, from Allegheny College 2015

Occupation: Barista at Tarot Bean Roasting Co.; Box office attendant and youth theatre instructor at The Academy Theatre

Experience: Over the past four years, I have been involved in a number of grassroots community projects, including the Second Saturday Community Markets, Thankful Thursdays, the Meadville Area Teen Lounge, the Meadville Independent Business Alliance, the Meadville Neighborhood Center, the Northwest Pennsylvania Investment Cooperative, Common Roots, Second Saturday Night Live concerts, Winterfest, and the Grow Meadville community gardens. I also served as the coordinator for My Meadville, a grassroots community planning project, and worked as the Meadville Redevelopment Authority’s Community Development Coordinator; during that time, I developed the Entrepreneur Accelerator Grant Program, which assists new businesses in the city, and the Facade Loan program, which helps them improve storefront properties.

Question: What is the No. 1 problem facing the City of Meadville and what specifically would you propose to solve it? (100 words or less)

A. One of the biggest problems facing Meadville is the disconnect between city leaders and residents. We need a City Council that is willing to explore new ideas and reach out to new constituencies. This can be accomplished in part by implementing regular town hall meetings, participatory budgeting, and an open formal process for municipal board appointments so that we can identify what matters to people and turn those values into a blueprint for city leaders. Ultimately, I believe it’s the city’s job to make it easier for ordinary residents to participate in the decisions that affect them.

 

SCHOOL DIRECTOR PENNCREST

Term: Four years

Vote for not more than five

All candidates crossfiled.

 

Democrats

 

Harry P. Hicks Jr.

Address: 31851 State Highway 77, Townville, PA 16360

Date of birth: October 20, 1939

Education: Bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southern in science education; master’s degree from Georgia Southern in science education; bachelor’s degree from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in history. Additional post master’s graduate work at Texas A&M in science education, curriculum, and school administration. Taking courses at Edinboro toward a degree in art history

Occupation: Retired educator (Texas)

Experience: Previously served on the boards of the PENNCREST School District, the Crawford County Career and Technical Center, and the Northwest Intermediate Unit V. Taught high school, middle school, and college science and mathematics. Was a secondary school principal. Tutored mathematics while at university.

Question: What is the No. 1 problem facing PENNCREST School District and what specifically would you propose to solve it? (75 words or less)

A. The primary problem facing the PENNSCREST School District is continuing to provide the best possible academic programs for its students, including STEM and electives, while balancing its budget without excessive increase in taxes. My primary concern is working to maintain and/or improve the curriculum and extra-curricular activities for all students of the school district.

 

David Valesky

Address: 13688 Smith Cemetery Road, Meadville

Date of birth: May 6, 2000

Education: Homeschooled — graduated 2018

Occupation: Manager at Valesky’s Supermarket

Experience: None

Question: What is the No. 1 problem facing PENNCREST School District and what specifically would you propose to solve it? (75 words or less)

A. The biggest problem facing PENNCREST School District is excessive spending. We already have sufficient funds to provide quality education. According to 2016 statistics, each PENNCREST student’s education cost $17,660, which is 51 percent above the national average. We need to be monitoring expenditures and cutting unnecessary spending. For example, taxpayers should not be providing students with iPads to think for them. Instead, we need to teach thinking skills. We have a spending crisis.

 

 

Jennifer L. Davis

Address: Centerville

The candidate did not complete a questionnaire or return it by the Tribune’s deadline.

   

 

Bill Sleptzoff

Address: 21219 Bechtold Road, Saegertown, Pennsylvania 16433

Date of birth: September 4,1949

Education: Meadville Area Senior High School graduate 1967; Edinboro University graduate 1973 with bachelor’s in secondary education geography, certification secondary math; graduate 1984 bachelor’s in computer science/mathematics

Occupation: Retired. Taught 6 years 4 years full time at Painesville Township Schools; 11 years U.S. Air Force Reserves as Education Training Officer 7 years, safety officer 2 years, contingency Wartime Planning Officer 2 years. Highest rank achieved — Major.

Experience: 25+ years wire CNC operator. Also elected one term Venago Township supervisor and three terms as township auditor.

Question: What is the No. 1 problem facing PENNCREST School District and what specifically would you propose to solve it? (75 words or less)

A. The problems facing schools today are a cultural one, we had a better education in the 1960s than what they have now. We need to go back to learning the basics. More money won’t fix it, but a revamped curriculum will help.

 

Timothy J. Brown

Address: 434 Beach Ave. Cambridge Springs, Pa. 16403

Date of Birth: August 29, 1969

Education: Cambridge Springs High School graduate

Occupation: Concrete pump operator

Experience: 2 + years on the PENNCREST School Board

Question: What is the No. 1 problem facing PENNCREST School District and what specifically would you propose to solve it? (75 words or less)

A. The biggest problem we face is declining enrollment. We have corrected many problems. With the first, being a new Superintendent and second an assistant Superintendent. We are working on making more electives, increasing AP courses, and opportunities for our high school students. We have reduced many of our expenses like legal fees to a minimum and work to eliminate unnecessary travel. Unfortunately, many expenses are set in stone and we can’t change them.

 

Jeff Brooks 

Address: 20384 Main St. Hwy 86, Venango, Pa

Date of birth: September 13, 1967

Education: Maplewood High School, US Navy “A” School and Edinboro University with bachelor’s in secondary education/social studies

Occupation: Program coordinator/social worker

Experience: Currently serving as vice president of the PENNCREST School Board. Helped create PENNCREST Parent Committee and previously served as Saegertown Football Boosters president, member of Saegertown Panthers Wrestling Boosters, coached youth baseball and softball, flag football, and was an assistant coach for little gridders, boys and girls youth basketball, and youth wrestling in Saegertown.

Question: What is the No. 1 problem facing PENNCREST School District and what specifically would you propose to solve it? (75 words or less)

A. Accepting mediocrity is the problem. PENNCREST was a district that excelled in everything — we were exceptional. We set the bar high for our children and achieved results. We have lost some of that drive and it shows. Enough — our time is now. We are already moving forward and we need to continue to overcome obstacles, stop making excuses and aim higher to once again become the standard in excellence academically, financially and athletically.

 

Luigi DeFrancesco

Address: 27502 Hwy 77 Guys Mills, Pa 16327

Date of birth: 1946

Education: Bachelor’s in civil engineering

Occupation: Retired professional engineer

Experience: Experience obtained while working for the U.S. Coast Guard and the City of Meadville: building design and maintenance, writing contracts and enforcing them, inspecting and oversee construction. While working for DEP I reviewed permits submitted to ensure they complied with environmental laws. Dedicated eight years to PENNCREST School District. During these years I always wanted to assure the taxpayers that their hard earned money was spent for the education of the children even if took a lawsuit to find out where and how money was spent.

Question: What is the No. 1 problem facing PENNCREST School District and what specifically would you propose to solve it? (75words or less)

A. I feel that we do not teach our students what America values are and what it stands for. PENNCREST must educate our youth to understand the values for which the United States of America stands. The values of American principles are embedded in the Constitution as amended. For America and future generations to survive, today’s youth must learn what our republic stands for. To pledge allegiance to the republic is not enough.

 

Republicans

Vote for not more than five

Order of listing on ballot

1. Bill Sleptzoff

2. Harry P. Hicks Jr.

3. Timothy J. Brown

4. Jeff Brooks 

5. Luigi DeFrancesco

6. David Valesky

7. Jennifer L. Davis

 

SCHOOL DIRECTOR PENNCREST

Term: Two years

Vote for one

 

 

Republican

Gerry B. Deane

Address: PO Box 934, Saegertown, PA 16433

Date of birth: Not relevant to anything, unlawful question

Education: Master’s degree from Penn State University

Occupation: CEO of Dog House Quilts LLC, Current PENNCREST Board of Directors, retired PENNCREST Educator

Experience: Past president and board member of Saegertown Borough; chair of Meadville Garden Club Trees of Christmas 1996, 2000 and 2006; current member PENNCREST Board of School Directors; past president of Crawford Country Historical Society.

Question: What is the No. 1 problem facing PENNCREST School District and what specifically would you propose to solve it? (75 words or less)

A. The cost of cyber school is draining public education funds. Cyber schools are for profit businesses and are not required to perform to the same standards that public schools are required. Current legislation that is being purposed will help school districts, and therefore taxpayers, save money. Having our representatives in Harrisburg support public education and educating taxpayers for the need of the purposed legislation passage will be an ongoing process for this legislative term.

 

Brian P. Lynch

Address: Saegertown, PA 

16433

The candidate did not complete a questionnaire or return it by the Tribune’s deadline.

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