The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

May 22, 2013

Hilltop group sweeps

Frank Sojak

JOHNSTOWN — Four of the five candidates supported by CEASE, a citizens group with a motto of fighting tax increases in the Westmont Hilltop School District while protecting education, won the four-year seats available in the identical order on both the Republican and Democratic tickets Tuesday.

Lisa Drennen was the top vote-getter on both sides with 788 votes on the Republican side and 701 on the Democratic side. Next came John DeMarco Jr. with 693 Republican votes and 535 Democratic votes.

Darin J. Marley was third with 652 votes by Republicans and 521 by Democrats.

Jeffrey P. Masterson captured the fourth spot with 523 Republican votes and 438 Democratic votes.

Drennen also garnered the most votes on both tickets for a two-year term.

The others who ran for four seats were incumbents Phyllis G. Forman, who captured 338 votes on the Republican side and 389 on the Democratic ticket; Dr. Gary S. Kramer, 337 Republican votes and 337 on the Democratic end; Gordon D. Smith, 249 Republican and 229 Democratic; and Daniel D. Hill, 363, Republican, and 390, Democratic. John Thomas Grumbling,  who was supported by CEASE, came in fifth place on the Democratic side with 417 votes. He did not cross-file.

James Greco, founder of Cost Effective Approaches Supporting Education, CEASE, was pleased with the outcome. It means that all four top candidates from each party will be on both tickets in the general election, he said.

“I think the voters have spoken,” he said.

“They were very unhappy with how the board was spending their tax dollars and they gave them a message.”

He said CEASE volunteers and members deserve all the credit.

CEASE has said that taxpayer interests in who serves on the school board has increased because of years of annual tax increase and falling property values.

The board has said that the issues facing the district are complex, and that the board must continue to work as a united community to find effective solutions that provide a quality education for students.

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