In addition to the races for commissioner, district attorney and coroner, six additional Cambria County row offices will be decided in this fall’s general election, including vacancies created by the retirements of three longtime office holders.
Incumbent Cambria County Treasurer Lisa Kozorosky, of Ebensburg, is seeking re-election as a Democrat.
Kozorosky first began working in the treasurer’s office in 2000 and became its first deputy later that year. She was elected to the position in 2012. Since she took over, the office has begun accepting credit card payments for several services and began accepting online payment for tax bills.
Kozorosky and her staff handle the collection of county real estate taxes in the city of Johnstown; dog, hunting, fishing and doe licenses; bingo and small games of chance permits; hotel and motel taxes; and juror and witness fees. In 2018, her office sold more than 21,000 dog licenses, collected more than $4.1 million in taxes from the city of Johnstown and oversaw more than 50 county accounts.
Kozorosky said she decided to seek re-election because of her experience in the office.
“I feel that I’ve worked really hard to do this job,” she said. “I take this job very seriously and always have.”
Kozorosky is a Central Cambria High School graduate with an associate’s degree in liberal arts from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Teena Bafile Petrus, a 30-year resident of Westmont Borough, is running as a Republican for the treasurer position. She was the owner of The Crystal Quill, a graphic design and marketing company, for nearly 20 years. Petrus was elected in 2017 as senior inspector of elections in Westmont.
“I am ready to start a new phase of my life in public service,” Petrus said. “I believe my years of experience running my business, along with my maturity and integrity, will help me serve the residents of Cambria County very well in this position.”
Clerk of courts
Susan Kuhar, Cambria County Clerk of Courts, will retire in December at the end of her term.
Kuhar first started working at the courthouse in 1976 as part of a summer job program and eventually worked in the business office of Laurel Crest nursing home for one year before joining the clerk of courts office in 1977. In 2000, Kuhar was first elected to run the office, which is tasked with overseeing all adult criminal records in the county.
Voters will choose between Republican Karen Kleinosky, of Lower Yoder Township, and Democrat Max Pavlovich, of Johnstown, for Kuhar’s replacement.
Kleinosky is a branch manager for First National Bank and has spent a majority of her career in the financial industry. She said she decided to seek public office because she enjoys daily interaction with people.
“My background in the financial industry has given me a strong attention to detail,” she said. “I think detail is extremely important in carrying out the duties assigned to the clerk of courts.”
Kleinosky is a graduate of Richland High School and a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Johnstown. She is also a foundation board member at Penn Highlands Community College and serves as the board’s treasurer.
Pavlovich, a lifelong Cambria County resident, said he’s dedicated to continue the modernization of the office, ensuring fiscal responsibility and easing access for county residents.
A graduate of Richland Area High School, Pavlovich earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
He earned the Republican nomination for a district judge position in the 2017 primary election, in which he cross-filed, but was defeated by Democratic nominee Susan Gindlesperger in the general election.
Pavlovich has worked as a legal assistant for attorney John Kuzmiak, was a legislative assistant for state Rep. Carl Metzgar, and has experience in construction and as a counselor with Johnstown’s Summer in the City program. He is currently an administrator for a local personal care facility.
“I believe my experience in state government and as a legal researcher, in conjunction with my experience in privatized long-term healthcare, enables me to transition into the office seamlessly, making me a well-qualified candidate for the position,” Pavlovich said in a press release announcing his campaign.
Incumbent Cambria County Controller Ed Cernic Jr., a Democrat from West Taylor Township, will seek reelection this fall.
Cernic was first elected to the position in 2004. His office handles the county’s fiscal affairs and accounting, but also plays a significant role in the county’s retirement and salary boards.
“I have enjoyed serving all residents of Cambria County while bringing openness and transparency to county government financial operations and ensuring that taxpayer funds are spent legally and conservatively,” he said.
Over the last three years of his latest term, Cernic said the mission to keep taxpayers the priority has not changed and noted his office’s efforts to update and install new accounting procedures to more easily track, report and make information available on the county’s website.
In 2017, the county approved a five-year contract with OpenGov Inc. for its Budget Builder and Intelligence software. Cernic’s office worked with the company to ease public access to county reports in bar or pie graphs to analyze and compare raw numbers instead of digging through traditional spreadsheets.
That information was published last year and was part of an initiative Cernic said his office had been looking into for a while to streamline communication between row offices and eliminate staff time and paperwork for responses to right-to-know requests.
Cernic said his office has been steadfast in maintaining cooperation with the county commissioners’ efforts to eliminate a general fund deficit, along with the county’s government agencies in administering daily financial functions.
Cernic is a businessman who previously served as a West Taylor Township supervisor, a member of the Greater Johns-town School Board and on the county’s transit authority for 15 years, nine as chairman.
Steve Dillon, a business owner from Nicktown, will seek the controller’s office position as a Republican. Dillon said he believes he can bring new ideas to the table and “get back to basics by recognizing what a local government’s role really is.”
“All government is really just an organization of representatives of the citizens, in a particular geographic area, established to provide services that the citizens democratically agree they need, and those same citizens agree to pay for, in as equitable a manner as is possible,” he said.
Dillon has served as a Barr Township auditor since 2017. He is a Bishop Carroll graduate who has an associate’s degree in computer programming from Cuyahoga Community College. He began working as a computer programmer for Kimball Engineering in 1973.
In 1975, Dillon took a job with Lloyd’s Transmission and Auto Body in Spangler. He eventually took over the body shop part of the business and changed its name to Steve’s Auto Body in 1977.
Dillon expanded into wholesale and retail distribution of auto body parts and supplies, along with mobile glass repair and replacement, and opened Penn Glass & Fender in 1984.
The prothonotary’s office handles numerous civil matters, including divorces, custody, mortgage foreclosures and protection from abuse orders. The office also processes passport applications and takes photos to accompany them.
Lisa Pudliner Crynock, of Jackson Township, is seeking the position as a Republican candidate.
Crynock was born in Pittsburgh, but returned to the area when she was 3 years old, shortly before the 1977 flood. A graduate of Ferndale Area High School, Crynock obtained an associate’s degree in respiratory therapy from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
She is currently employed as a respiratory therapist by both a home health care company and an area hospital.
Crynock said her education, career and life have been dedicated to helping people, which is why she says she decided to run for an office that helps the residents of Cambria County.
“It’s time for new leadership, new ideas and innovation in county government,” she said. “My goal is to improve efficiency, decrease inconvenience and increase transparency in the Office of the Prothonotary as well as all county offices.”
Cambria County Prothonotary Debbie Martella will retire in December and has endorsed her deputy, Carla Portash, to succeed her.
Portash, a Democrat from Portage, has worked with Martella in the office since 1988. When Martella was first elected in 2012, Portash became deputy.
“With over 30 years of experience in the prothonotary’s office, I feel I am the most qualified candidate for the office,” Portash said. “My predecessors did amazing work keeping up with the ever-changing state rules, regulations, local rules and technology advances. I want to continue that work.”
Recorder of deeds
Republican Melissa Kimla, of Northern Cambria, will run for recorder of deeds, an office that provides access to the county’s land records, assists lending institutions and attorney’s offices, collects Pennsylvania Realty Transfer Taxes and helps the public find information.
Kimla previously worked in the office until 2017 as a clerk. She said that her experience in the office instilled in her “the ability and desire to provide all county residents with exceptional service” and that she’d “now like to lead that office into providing even better service to all county residents.”
Kimla previously served as a volunteer firefighter for 15 years and volunteered at the Duman Lake Park Halloween Parade. She is currently a member of the Spangler Legacy Committee, which is responsible for organizing the annual festival and Christmas Parade.
Ray Wendekier, of Patton, Cambria County’s incumbent recorder of deeds, will seek his second term in office.
Wendekier, a Democrat, was self-employed in the title abstracting business for 25 years and worked for local attorneys and closing companies in the area completing title examinations for real estate before he took office in 2016.
“It was during this time that I realized the importance of the recorder of deeds’ office in maintaining accuracy of the records relating to the ownership of real estate, as well as the preservation of these records,” Wendekier said.
During his first term, Wendekier said, he was able to implement technology to make the recording process more efficient and more accessible through online searching. The office also now accepts documents through various vendors for e-filing, which eliminated paper and labor costs required to process
Wendekier serves as first vice president of the Pennsylvania Recorder of Deeds Association, which allows him to be involved in many aspects of ongoing legislation and other issues pertaining to recorder of deeds offices statewide.
Register of wills
Cambria County’s register of wills and clerk of the orphans’ court handles wills and estates, inheritance tax, marriage licenses, guardianships, adoptions, birth records and death records.
Patty Sharbaugh, Cambria County’s longtime register of wills, is retiring at the end of her term in December and has endorsed a member of her staff for the position.
Sharbaugh, a Democrat who worked in the office until she was elected in 1996, said that that candidate, Cindy Perrone, has worked in the office for nearly 20 years. Sharbaugh said she’s “delighted that Perrone is running for office, keeping the experience available to the public and the attorneys who also represent the public.”
“Knowledge and experience of the office is a must to properly serve the taxpayers of Cambria County,” Sharbaugh said. “Cindy joined my staff in 1999 and has learned all phases of the office and is ready to step up and become the register. She will also continue having our satellite hours in Johnstown on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon for the convenience of Johnstown residents.”
Perrone, a Democrat, said she’s anxious “to continue the great service and commitment given by the register’s office to the citizens of Cambria County as well as moving ahead with the online and electronic world of today.”
The senior pastor of an Ebensburg church is running as the Republican candidate for register of wills.
Jared MaCartin Bowling was born in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and grew up in a military family. His father, a retired U.S. Marine and his mother, who is from Scotland, raised Bowling in Southern California. He graduated in 2002 from Grace Christian High School in San Diego.
Bowling became involved with nonprofit Christian ministry at a young age and began volunteering as a chaplain in nursing homes in 2007. In 2008, he graduated from Southern California Seminary, and he was ordained as a Baptist minister in 2012.
In 2014, he and his family moved to Altoona, and he became the executive director of the Altoona Rescue Mission, where he was instrumental in reopening the organization, which had been closed for two years.
As executive director of the mission, Bowling said, he created programs to provide housing and food to the homeless population in Blair County. During his two years in that position, Bowling said, he created a variety of programs that provided food and shelter to more than 800 homeless people, including many veterans.
In 2017, Bowling’s family moved to Ebensburg, where he became the senior pastor of First Baptist Church. Bowling said that the church has grown under his leadership and that he has established college ministries in conjunction with St. Francis University and Mount Aloysius College.
“My message is simple: We need compassionate and conservative values in leadership again, along with a culture of transparency, integrity and a willingness to develop modern technology for a smoother running system,” Bowling said. “This will transform Cambria County, not just tomorrow, but for many years to come. This will make Cambria County great again.”