Mark Stephens seeks win on new stage

Eric Kieta, Copy Editor

Senior Mark Stephens aspires to turn politics into a career, and the 22-year-old political science and communication major is taking steps to get there.

“I’ve had a passion for politics since the fourth grade,” Stephens said.

Since that time, he said he has been supporting the Democratic Party.

He is a Pitt-Johnstown Student Government Association senator, Pitt-Johnstown College Democrats president and UPJ Radio vice president.

He ran for student government president during Spring 2013, but lost to current Student Government President Noam Berns. He is now running for a seat on the Patton Borough Council in his hometown.

“I am running for Patton Borough Council because I want to become more involved in the community,” he said. “I love this town, and I would like to help make things better.”

He said getting local government experience would be a good stepping stone for his political career. He said that he would like to advance to state government someday — maybe even becoming a state senator.

“I wouldn’t like to do national politics, though,” he said. “I would like to have a life.”

He said that he is prepared to play the campaign politics game.

“I’m determined to go out and campaign,” he said. “I’m determined to go put up campaign signs and to go door to door.”

To qualify as a borough council candidate, one must be at least 18-years-old and obtain a notarized petition with at least 10 signatures.

Stephens won the Democratic primary and is to appear on the ballot as the Democratic Party nominee.

For his campaign, Stephens said he is pushing to transfer ownership of Patton Stadium to the Cambria Heights School District.

“If they had to move football and baseball games up to the high school, the school board would be forced to raise taxes to fix up a stadium,” he said.  “Plus, it would hurt local businesses, such as Sheetz and local bars.”

Stephens’s opponent and borough council incumbent Richard Resko, 57, Republican, said Stephens’s stadium idea is not a new issue.

“That has been going on for a long time,” Resko said. “You can ask anyone at the school district.”

Resko said he supported transferring the stadium ownership.

“They are going to be asking for a lot of money,” Resko said. “That is a burden that I can’t see putting on our citizens.”

He said he feels that the current council is working well, and does not need a change.

“Our background here at the borough runs really well,” he said. “We haven’t raised taxes in 16 years… We must be doing something correctly.”

Resko said that Stephens has been a junior councilman in the past — a position that was created specifically for him.

Stephens said he feels his opponent is running a negative campaign against him, which even feels sort of like smear campaign.

“After running for (student government) president last year and currently running in this race, I am thankful that (my opponents) didn’t run a negative campaign and then look me in the eye and shake my hand,” Stephens said.

The election is to be held Nov. 5, according to Patton Borough Assistant Secretary Cecilia Parfitt.