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Tarentum mayoral race pits incumbent and council president against each other

October 24, 2017 GMT

Tarentum Council President Eric Carter won the Democratic nomination for mayor against incumbent Carl Magnetta in the May primary, but Magnetta isn’t out of the running yet.

He managed to snag 61 Republican write-ins — enough to keep him in the race. The two will face each other again in the Nov. 7 election.

The mayor’s position is a four-year term.

Magnetta believes he will come out on top.

“I stayed in the race because I’m going to win,” Magnetta said. “I represent Tarentum.”

Carter lost to Magnetta in the Democratic primaries in 2011 and 2013. He’s said he happy he got the nomination this time around because it shows Tarentum is ready for a change.

Still, Carter’s not taking it for granted.

“I’m hoping for the same outcome, but ... he’s a very well-known individual in Tarentum, so anything can happen,” said Carter, 45.

Both men are registered Democrats and have a long history with borough politics.

Magnetta has been mayor since 2009, when he was appointed to the position following the death of longtime Mayor James Wolfe, who was Carter’s grandfather. Magnetta also served on council for a total of 21 years.

Carter, a shipping manager at Conco Services in Verona, has been on council for at least 11 years.

Despite the primary loss, Magnetta hasn’t done anything different to prepare for the election. The 78-year-old retiree thinks he has done a “magnificent” job as mayor.

“I go out and make speeches and go to meetings and represent Tarentum over 200 times every year,” he said.

A mayor’s primary job is overseeing the police department. Both men hold borough police Chief Bill Vakulick in high regard.

“The chief and I get along beautifully,” Magnetta said. “No problem at all.”

“I have no issues with the chief,” Carter said. “I think he’s done a tremendous job, and I think with the right person working with him, that police force can be even stronger.”

Carter said his goal, if elected, would be to get the police more involved with code enforcement.

“I think it’s more important than anything else at this moment because, if we don’t clean up what needs (to be) cleaned up, then that’s what brings in these other issues,” Carter said. “If we can start there, at the bottom, and we can keep working our way up, (we can) slowly start eliminating each piece one by one.”

Both candidates are at different places in their working lives. Magnetta is retired. Carter works full time.

Magnetta said being retired is an advantage because he has the ability to go to the borough building almost every day. He said he handles hundreds of telephone calls.

“A lot of my friends say to me, ‘What the hell are you still involved in that for? Why don’t you relax?’” Magnetta said. “This is something that I enjoy doing — I enjoy helping people.”

Carter said his job won’t pose a problem.

“Yes, I work, but I’m at everything,” Carter said. “I can come and go. I get texts, I get phone calls, I get emails all day. I answer just as I would be if I was at home.”

Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4702, mczebiniak@tribweb.com or via Twitter @maddyczebstrib.