Fayette's General Election
Election day, November 8, 2011, is upon us in Fayette County. While some races for row officers,
township and municipality leaders don't have us on the edges of our seats, the race for county
commissioner will be an interesting one, down to the final votes being counted.
Two new candidates are on the ballot with two incumbent commissioners seeking re-election.
Current commissioner Vince Vicites lost the primary election for a shot to turn his 16-year stay to
20. Defeating him were current Fayette County Commission Chairman Vincent Zapotosky and
challenger Al Ambrosini.
On the Republican ballot, incumbent Angela Zimmerlink will attempt to hold on to the seat that she
has held for 8 years. Four-time previous loser Dave Lohr tossed his hat in for another try at on
the county board -- and this time around, got the support of Daddy Warbucks in the way of public
endorsement and other special interest campaign contributions, to try to knock Zimmerlink out of
the game and send her packing along with Vicites.
At this point in the race, Fayette County voters have seen and heard it all. Last May's primary
election was probably the most exciting and surprising election since former Commissioner Sean
Cavanagh won a second term a dozen years ago as a write-in candidate. Most veteran politicians and
political hacks did not expect Zimmerlink to fair as well as she did in the last primary. And
newcomer Ambrosini, gee, not many in those circles predicted that he could ever bounce an
incumbent from the ballot in the general election.
Ambrosini, a newcomer to politics, campaigned for the primary election to help bring industry to
economically depressed Fayette County and to restore professionalism and ethical and moral
values to the commissioners' office. He won the primary with 36% of the Democratic vote to
Zapotosky's 33% and Vicites 31%. Democratic voters saw him as a believable candidate and,
obviously, agreed that integrity and professionalism in the office was lacking.
That Zimmerlink came out ahead with 40% of the Republican vote, in comparison to Lohr's 33%
and the 27% that loser Marilyn Cellurale received, and that Ambrosini blew away two incumbent
Democrats made the primary election results exciting news and gave hope that Fayette County
could begin to recover from years of decay.
And now there is the upcoming general election.
Mud has been slung and more still will fly before Tuesday. The two Democrats in office today
proved that two, only two, pretty much, have run the county from the last election through 2010.
Count the number of times that this or that decision was made before the meeting without the
third commissioner receiving information. Count the number of times that Zimmerlink said at a
public meeting that she received no prior information or was not consulted about this or that
issue. The number is staggering, with the gentlemen even seen chuckling at televised meetings
that they did not consult her because they were meeting ''to discuss sports." Given that the
issues kept from her until the public meetings have included very critical ones -- such as the firing
of department heads and chosing not to seek bids for expensive services -- we cannot overlook or
condone this type of arrogance in any candidate, let alone sitting commissioners.
In their defense, Zapotosky and Vicites always indicated that Zimmerlink is just too difficult to
work with, that she debates issues unwisely, and nicknamed her the "no" commissioner. Ask them
what they mean and they say don't cite specific, concrete examples, but just vaguely state that
she stands in the way of progress and needs to go. Clearly, they wanted a third "yes"
commissioner. And there she was, saying no to hiring without accepting resumes, no to paying
consultants $40,000 when she felt county employees and elected officials could do those tasks,
to granting pay raises for row officers, to awarding contracts without bids, to using a cash surplus
to balance the budget... and other horrible notions, such as saying no to awarding financial
consultant and auditing firm contracts without bids. And there she was, getting blamed for
standing in the path of progress.
So she sued them for attempting to discredit her and for excluding her from much of the business.
Since she filed the lawsuit -- and since Vicites lost the primary and Zapotosky came in second
behind newcomer Ambrosini's platform for new industry and a need for professionalism in the
office -- both sitting Democratic commissioners are visibly more civil to her at meetings. There is
even positive interaction. Why they even let her talk without rolling their eyes or snickering at
her in more recent times. Vicites might still be on the general election ballot this week had the
gentlemen been more cooperative from the start of this four-year term.
However, some people still don't get it, don't understand why she filed the suit against them.
Perhaps if there were two female commissioners who excluded a male third commissioner and
chucked that they didn't include him in discussion because they were "talking about PMS," more
people could understand why she filed the suit. She was trying to do what Ambosini campaigned on
in the primary -- to bring professionalism, integrity and moral values to the commissioners' office.
And even if she shared her fellow commissioners' affinity for sports, no doubt, she would have
still been intentionally left out of the loop.
To elect Zapotosky, Ambrosini and Lohr would not be in the county's interest. While Ambrosini and
Zimmerlink could run the county well together, it is doubtful that Zapotosky can step it up enough
to take the lead. He in recent months has visibly been dependent on Zimmerlink at some meetings
on more than one occasion when making motions. Even the local paper cited his lack of leadership
believability as a concern. Not enough is known about Lohr to know whether he would insist on
following county codes or bend them as did Zapotosky and Vicites when they opted not to seek
bids or proposals or hired without accepting resumes. Until all final election contributions and
expense reports are submitted, it is too difficult not to imagine that figures will be even higher
from special interests who will want their favors returned on those two gentlemen's expense
reports. Then there's the negativity involved in Zapotosky's upcoming federal court trial in
Zimmerlink's case against him and Vicites.
In a day when Zapotosky and Democratic committee men attended Republican gatherings for Lohr,
this column recommends that Republicans and Democrats alike vote for Zimmerlink and Ambrosini.
Zimmerlink and Ambrosini can work productively with anyone willing to conduct county business as
it should be run.
Whether it's Zapotosky or Lohr coming in third -- with votes from those who refuse to cross party
lines -- will not matter. That third seat, we have a feeling, will likely end up working productively in
Fayette County's behalf.