Mark Stephens unseats incumbent councilman

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Courtesy of Mark Stephens

Mark Stephens went door-to-door prior to Patton Borough elections to encourage community members to vote for him. Stephens’ won the election last Tuesday.

Brandon Zeris, Editor-In-Chief

Pitt-Johnstown senior Mark Stephens lost in Pitt-Johnstown’s Student Government Association presidential election in April, but that didn’t discourage him seeking political office.

Stephens’ second election in six months brought a better result than his first when he secured a Patton Borough Council seat Nov. 5 by just nine votes, supplanting two-term incumbent Richard Resko — who is also Stephens’ neighbor, two houses away.

Stephens has served on Pitt-Johnstown’s Student Government Association for the last four years, and he went into the Patton Borough +race as an underdog, running against Resko, who served on the council for the last eight years.

Evidently the voters wanted a change — perhaps a younger, fresher perspective, Stephens said.

“I think people wanted someone young to get involved,” said Stephens, who won a four-year term on the borough council.

Stephens said he was confident at the start of Election Day but became a little uneasy when he drove past the Patton Volunteer Fire Co., where the borough’s polling center was, at about 10:30 a.m. and saw his opponent greeting voters.

“He was out there from 7 a.m. until 6:45 at night,” Stephens said. “He did not take a break.”

The polls closed at 8 p.m. and the results were posted about an hour later on Cambria County’s election results website.

Stephens said he was at his parents’ home with his mother, father and grandfather when he saw that he had won.

“I was sitting there nervously refreshing the page. When it came up, I called my mom over, I scrolled down and said, ‘Oh my gosh, I won.’ I was so darn happy, I was jumping and running around the house,” he said.

A total of 167 votes were cast for the council seat.

Stephens said he relied on posting yard signs printed with his name, and door-to-door campaigning to gain support, per Cambria County Commissioner Tom Chernisky’s advice.

“He would call me probably at least twice a week, bugging me to campaign, telling me to go door-to-door,” Stephens said. “He also told me to watch what I said online, things like that.”

Chernisky said Stephens helped him campaign for his race two years ago and returned the favor by giving him some tips. He said Stephens has what it takes to be successful.

“He’s an asset to Cambria County and an asset to Patton,” Chernisky said. “He needs to do a million little things for the people. He needs to be brutally honest and to listen to them.”

Stephens said he plans to run for Cambria County commissioner at some point in the future.