Two candidates vie for South Fayette commissioner seat

Published Oct 23, 2013 at 5:00 am (Updated Oct 23, 2013 at 11:25 am)

After nearly 20 years on the board, Tom Sray is not running for re-election leaving a vacancy for township commissioner in South Fayette. And, two candidates are vying for the open seat.

Jessica Cardillo and Marsha McFalls are both life-long residents of the township as well as South Fayette High School graduates. Both are concerned about recent issues in the township including potential mining at the former Mayview Hospital site, commercial and residential development, and the status of the vacant Star City building.

“I’m a fourth-generation resident in South Fayette. My children are fifth-generation. My roots and my heart are here,” Cardillo said proudly.

“I have always been mindful of the growth and development in our township and as a resident and taxpayer I became cognizant of how important local politics are to every resident and taxpayer of South Fayette Township,” she added.

A graduate of Westminster College, Cardillo is an escrow processor for a large real estate title company. She is also a licensed vehicle salesperson and a Pennsylvania Notary Public.

“My professional experience will be a great benefit to me, as I understand checks and balances,” said Cardillo, a Republican.

Long-time ties to the community as well as background also prove beneficial to McFalls, a Democrat. She, too, is the proud parent of fifth-generation South Fayette residents.

“I have seen South Fayette change over the years,” she said. “As a parent of two daughters, I want to have a voice in the future direction of the township.”

McFalls has a doctor of pharmacy degree. She is an assistant professor of pharmacy practice and director of the Academic Research Center for Pharmacy at Duquesne University. In addition to being a pharmacist, she is president of the Sterling Ridge Homeowner’s Association and is a volunteer soccer coach.

If elected, McFalls said one of her goals is to work collaboratively with the other commissioners, the township manager, public works, parks and recreation, police department and the school board toward “achieving common goals set forth from each individual group as outlined in the comprehensive plan.”

Star City stand

As for the Star City property, McFalls said, “It may be more cost-effective to build something that would be more suited to the township’s individual needs, rather than trying to modify the existing structure.”

Some of Cardillo’s goals include a balance of land use in the township to provide a diverse tax base.

“Currently, South Fayette is one of the fastest growing communities in Allegheny County and the effects of all the residential development are being felt in the rising number of students enrolled in the school district,” Cardillo said. The focus should be on broadening the tax base to “alleviate the burden on the residents” or many of them, including senior citizens, will not be able to afford the taxes.”

McFalls added, “The remaining property would be prime land for additional commercial development.”

Cardillo said of the property, “My opinion on the Star City proposed civic center is that it should be sold to private enterprise and return the property to the tax rolls. This would benefit the township and the school district.” She said that because the property is in close proximity to Interstate 79, it would make it “conducive to development and would generate substantial tax revenue.” She added, “In my opinion, the civic center should not occupy prime real estate.”

Drilling stand

Mining and drilling have both been topics of discussion in the township in the last few years and both Cardillo and McFalls expressed opinions on the issues.

Cardillo said that she believes in an individual’s rights including private property rights.

“Government that governs least governs best,” she said. “I understand some ordinances and regulations are necessary, but excessive rules limit freedom and lead to overbearing, intrusive government control.”

“As a health care practitioner,” McFalls said, “I feel that all decisions regarding mining and drilling will have to be based on the ultimate goal of protecting the health, safety and welfare of township residents.” She added that in the future she would like to see the recreational activities and facilities in the township expanded. She said she would also support “responsible residential and commercial growth throughout the township.”

Cardillo said she would “carefully consider every matter that comes before the board of commissioners” and focus on “what is best for the residents of the township now and in the future.”

School board

In the race for South Fayette School Board, four candidates are running for four seats. All candidates are cross-filed and include incumbents Leonard Fornella, William Newcomer and Alan Vezzi. Jennifer Iriti is running for the fourth seat.

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