Nominees for Plum Council Emerge After Close Primary Election
With narrow margins in both the Democratic and Republican races, six candidates emerge as the nominees for the general election in November.
After a tight primary race for Plum Borough Council, six candidates have emerged as contenders in November’s general election.
According to unofficial elections results from the Allegheny County Elections Division, former council member Donald Knopfel took the lead in the Democratic race, followed by incumbent Steven “Skip” Taylor and Lori A. Churilla.
In the Republican race, John Anderson pulled in front, followed by Paul DeSabato and Christopher Kozub.
Reached by phone as he was leaving an election celebration Tuesday night, DeSabato—the 45-year-old candidate who owns two cosmetology schools and currently serves on the borough’s planning committee—said he is excited for the general election.
“It’s a great feeling,” DeSabato said. “It’s nice to know that this is the completion of the first step of winning the election in November.”
Running on a platform of fiscal restraint, DeSabato said he hopes to continue meeting residents and plans to serve their interests if elected in the fall.
“I’ve been in the community for a while,” DeSabato said. “It’s just really (about) building relationships with everyone in the borough and letting them know that you care about them.”
Kozub, a 36-year-old network engineer who also runs on a fiscally conservative platform, said he thinks Republicans will fare well in November.
“It was an interesting primary season, and I’m very much looking forward to the general election,” Kozub said. “We’re just going to have to do a lot of hard work ... you’ve got to get out, knock on doors, talk to people.”
John Anderson declined to comment when reached by phone late Tuesday night, but later said in an e-mail to a Patch reporter that he was surprised to have led Republican vote getters and is excited to continue campaigning for the general election.
Christopher Zozula, the 28-year-old candidate who serves on the Plum Chamber of Commerce Board, finished roughly four points behind Kozub. Despite the loss, Zozula said he supports the other candidates’ agendas.
“It was a very difficult campaign to run because we all had so much in common,” Zozula said.
Among Democrats, the 67-year-old Knopfel led candidates in votes. Knopfel said he thinks his more than 20 years of previous experience on council gave him the edge.
“I’ve been in Plum Borough my whole life,” Knopfel said. “I was on council for quite a few years, and people must have realized I did a good job.”
Knopfel said he will run an aggressive campaign into the fall.
“You always run scared,” he said. “It makes you work harder.”
Taylor, the incumbent council member who ran a joint campaign with Knopfel and Guida, said he is committed to serving taxpayers and being fiscally responsible. Calling Churilla a “wonderful person,” Taylor said he hopes to strengthen the Democratic candidates’ ties.
“If we all unite and we work together, I think we can pull this off,” Taylor said.
Edging out her nomination by 38 votes, Churilla—the 43-year-old certified public account who currently works in the Allegheny County Controller’s Office—said her 23 years of government experience helped her in the race.
“It was a very tight race; I worked hard,” Churilla said. “I think my experience and my qualifications are what did it.”
Churilla said she’ll work to serve taxpayers if elected.
“I also feel that I’m an approachable person,” she said. “People can come to me and let me know what they want in the borough.”
On the other end of that 38-point split was Guida, the 20-year-old locomotive conductor who campaigned with Knopfel and Taylor.
Guida said that, considering his youth, the outcome wasn’t wholly disappointing.
“I’m 20 years old,” Guida said. “Losing by 40 votes—that’s great.”
Whether for council or other office, Guida said he will have an eye on serving the public going forward.
“I love the town I live in; I love the people; and I definitely want to (run again) in the future,” he said.
Democratic incumbent Christine Scardina-Gazzo and Democrat Paul Dern could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
Check on the unofficial election results here.