By PETE BOSAK
Daily American Staff Writer @DAPeteBosak
11:23 PM EDT, May 21, 2013
Incumbent Conemaugh Township Supervisor Steven Buncich easily won the Democratic nomination to possibly retain his seat in the general election with a political newcomer winning the Republican nod.
But 36 percent of the vote went to write-ins on the Republican side, where Buncich was seeing write-in tallies. Write-in results are not expected to be tallied until the second week of June. The Republican nomination went to Owen Hofecker on Tuesday, with 33 percent of the vote.
With all five precincts reporting, Buncich won the Democratic nomination with 371 votes, or 59 percent of the vote, followed by Joseph A. Marisa Jr. with 169 votes, 26.78 percent of the vote, and Samuel Mazzarese with 71 votes, or 11 percent.
"I'm really happy," Buncich said. "I wasn't expecting this much competition. It's good to know I have the support of the people."
Hofecker appeared to have the Republican nomination with 201 votes, followed by Jerry K. Bellak, with 134 votes, or 21.68 percent of the vote, and M. Veil Griffith, with 62 votes, 10.03 percent of the vote.
"It feels great," Hofecker said. "I've never run for public office before. But my life has been one of service. I wanted to continue serving the people."
Hofecker is retired as a captain in the U.S. Army, having worked in counter-espionage. After the Army, he worked another 15 years at the National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown.
Hofecker said he's managed budgets totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, has been a leader his entire career and wants to put that experience to work for his home township.
Buncich, current supervisors board chairman, said that six years ago when he ran, he didn't foresee the challenges of his first term. But he said experience gained and relationships developed make him an asset to Conemaugh Township.
Three Democrats and three Republicans were vying for one six-year term, with incumbent Buncich trying to hold on to his seat on the three-member board.
Bellak, a Republican, touted the fact he'd run for supervisor several times before and lost, telling voters that it demonstrates his commitment to the township.
Griffith, a Republican candidate and administrator at the Cambria County Area Agency on Aging, had warned tax increases are coming because the township has not been proactive with finances.
Marisa, a member of the Carpenters Union 1419 and state Farm Bureau member, said he wanted to change the political climate.
Current township water authority member, Mazzarese, 88, also ran warning of looming tax increases.