North Strabane vacancy board selects new supervisors

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The North Strabane Township vacancy board appointed Harold Close and Marcus Staley to the board of supervisors at a vacancy board meeting Friday night.


Close and Staley both currently serve on the township planning committee, and were among 10 candidates who recently submitted letters of interest for the two vacant positions.


The vacancies occurred when Supervisor Robert Balogh won both two- and six-year terms on the board in November’s election. Balogh chose the longer term and an appointment was required to fill his two-year seat. Former supervisor Jeff Stanley resigned from his seat Dec. 30.


Vacancy board chairman Stewart White, along with supervisors Balogh and Brian Spicer, who also serve on the vacancy board, voted in favor of appointing Close and Staley. Supervisor and vacancy board member Sonia Stopperich opposed.


“I’m looking forward to handling the issues and serving the residents as best I can,” said Staley.


The appointments broke a stalemate the supervisors had reached on filling the two seats. If no decision had been made by Feb. 17, the matter of filling the seats would have been turned over to Washington County Court.


A motion by Stopperich Friday to appoint residents Bill Brooks and Neil Kelly, who both ran for seats in November but lost, failed by a 2-2 vote.


Brooks, a former supervisor, and Kelly, who attended a majority of township meetings over the past eight years and twice run for supervisor, received the second- and third-most votes in the municipal election.


“I couldn’t be more disappointed,” said Kelly, who said he believes the 456 votes he received in the election should have merited his appointment. “The voters made their selection and (the board) should have followed it.”


Before the vacancy board voted, each of the candidates had an opportunity to speak for a few minutes about their qualifications and why they wanted to run for the position.


Stopperich said each of the candidates was qualified, “even overqualified,” and encouraged them to run for supervisor during the next election or to get involved with township’s various boards, programs and activities.


“I was confident after each meeting that I could serve on the board with each one of you. Going forward, we are all going to be able to govern appropriately. I’m very confident of that fact,” said Stopperich. “This township is a great township and I don’t see that what’s transpired over the the past month is going to change that. I deny the allegations that there’s something dangerously wrong with the board and what has transpired in the last six weeks. I think each one of us tried to do what is right in our own minds.”


Close’s and Staley’s terms expire in December 2015.


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