May 9—Mt. Pleasant Township voters will be sending a new face to the three-member board of supervisors this fall for the first time in years with the retirement of Jack Rutkowski.
Five candidates — four Republicans and one Democrat — are seeking nomination to run for the post and an opportunity to help steer the municipality as it prepares for the long awaited Laurel Valley Transportation Improvement Project. The highway project is designed to provide upgrades to Route 981 between Route 819 and the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport.
Candidates on the Republican ballot are Kevin Hendrick, 31; Alyn Hutter, 38; Braden Kraisinger, 24; and John Wilkinson, 54. Democrat Bill Pinskey, 59, is running unopposed.
The six-year post pays $3,250 a year. Some supervisors in rural townships supplement that by taking a fulltime post as township roadmaster. Three of the GOP candidates say they intend to do that if elected this fall.
Hendrick, a volunteer firefighter and paramedic with the Kecksburg Volunteer Fire Department, is the supervisor for the Latrobe Senior Center. If elected, he said he will not accept a roadmaster position and will donate his supervisor's pay to the township recreation department and the emergency services fund.
"I want to take care of our senior citizens and help grow our youth," Hendrick said. He's concerned about the lack of local infrastructure in the rural community as well as what he called underfunding of public safety.
Wilkinson, a self-employed hardscape contractor who ran for the post four years ago, said he brings the experience and perspective of operating a small business and balancing a budget.
"I have my (commercial driver's license), and I was weaned on operating equipment," he said. "We need somebody who has done this. If I can put a job together for $5,000 instead $7,500, that's money back in the township's pocket, not mine."
Hutter, who works for Citizens Cable and as a self-employed electrician, lives on a 40-acre farm in Kecksburg and said he brings a lifetime of experience in construction.
"One of the supervisors is retiring. They have a good thing going right now, and they want to keep it going," he said. "The township has a good bit in savings, and taxes aren't going up. With the road project coming through Mt. Pleasant, I'm hoping it will change for the better."
He said working as roadmaster would allow him to focus on the township. If elected, he would be the second Hutter on the board. Board chair Duane Hutter is a distant cousin.
Kraisinger is the youngest candidate on the slate. A lifelong township resident and firefighter with the Hecla Volunteer Fire Department for the last five years, he is a truck driver and part-time electrician. He said he'd make maintaining the community a priority if elected.
"With the Laurel Valley coming through, we need to keep things up. We need to reform our (road) maintenance programs and I'd like to see more support for our volunteer fire and EMS services," he said.
Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, email@example.com or via Twitter .