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Six candidates vie for three seats on Windber council

April 25, 2019

Four Democrats and two Republicans will appear on Windber voters’ ballots in the May 21 primary in hopes of filling three council seats in the borough.

The candidates are Pino Gallina, Democrat; John Holden, Democrat; Pete Lamonaca, Democrat; Ron Mash Jr., Democrat; Mark Portante, Republican; and Gloria Sullivan, Republican.

Gallina, 32, of Windber, is the owner of Mimo’s, an Italian restaurant along Graham Avenue. Gallina’s father started Mimo’s in 1983, and he has owned it for about 12 years.

“Owning a restaurant in Windber, I can bring a business background to council and whatnot — if elected,” he said. “I’d be building bridges amongst the people who reside here and have businesses here, and I’d listen to what they say.”

Gallina said he would also like to be part of an improving Windber.

“The last three or four years, I’ve seen a positive progression in Windber,” he said. “It’s something I want to be a part of and help continue to help grow Windber and evolve it more.”

He said he feels Windber’s council members and manager have been doing a great job addressing blight and other problems.

“The blight issue — that’s definitely something I want to help continue to battle,” he said.

Gallina added that he appreciated how Windber’s council members met with local landlords after passing two controversial landlord and tenant ordinances, then found a middle ground.

“They listened to what the residents or landlords had to say and came to a common ground,” he said.

Gallina graduated from Windber Area School District and attends Bethany United Methodist Church. He is married to Kaylin Gallina and has a 16-month-old son, Hudson.

“I want to be involved in the community as much as possible — not just live here,” he said. “I have a calling to give back to the town I love.”

Holden, 57, of Windber, has served as a council member for seven years. His second term will end this year.

“I’m running again because I had, I think — not taking the credit for myself — we had a good council that works together and understands its taxpayers in the community — about the people that pay the bills and make sure they’re taken care of,” he said. “And our borough manager is outstanding.

“I’d like to continue with the way things have been going.”

Holden said that the landlord and tenant ordinances were controversial, but the council worked through it together with the codes enforcement officer, fire department and police department.

“To build the community and public safety programs to make Windber a good, safe place to raise children — this whole rental ordinance thing is to make the borough a better place and make sure people are managing their properties,” he said.

“We’ve had a good council for the past eight years, and I hope to continue to serve the community and do what’s right for the people of Windber.”

Lamonaca, 68, is also running for re-election this year.

He said one of his main goals, if re-elected, will be to make the borough manager position full time.

“We need a full-time borough manager here every day,” he said. “People come complaining, and, to me, that’s an everyday thing. I’d push for that.”

Lamonaca added that he would also like to help bring more jobs to the Windber area.

Mash, 40, of Windber, has served on the council for one term and hopes to be elected to another.

“We have a good thing going,” he said. “We have a good council on right now. We’re on the same page and I want to keep rolling in the right direction.”

Some issues Mash hopes to address are the landlord and tenant ordinances, improving the Windber Recreation Pool and getting the Windber baseball fields fixed.

“We need to keep plugging away on that for the town,” he said.

“I’ve been in this community since I got back from the Army. I want to better the town for my kids,” he added. “It’s a long-term investment. and I’m not afraid to stick up for myself and what I believe. I think I’m a voice for everyone — or can be.”

Portante, 66, of Windber, served as a council member from 1998 to 2002. He is also running for the Windber mayor nomination. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Sullivan, 77, of Windber, is a graduate of Windber Area School District. She has four children and some grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

She also has an associate of arts degree in child development, and “is focused on ensuring our children have the best local environment.”

Sullivan said she is qualified to be a council member because she ran her own department with a budget and supervised 21 women. She also worked with children for 24 years.

“I’m politically active and trained a lot of people for knocking on doors,” she said. “I’m eager to have a woman on council for Windber.”

Sullivan said she is passionate about issues such as immigration, the economy, the national deficit and building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, and has been recently focused on churches being attacked.

“Those are some of the strong feelings I have,” she said.

Sullivan is also vice president of the Windber Area Museum, active with Windber Area Visioning Experience and is president of the Republican Women of Somerset County Council.