Ellwood City Council Candidate Biographies

Below are the biographies submitted by each Ellwood City Borough Council Candidate for the “Meet the Candidate” forum event held Tuesday night. (View Full Forum Article)

Jim Arkett
Current Profession:
Retired Pastor; Steelworker; Landlord
Experiences/Interests: Pastor, People, Peacemaker
What has brought you to the decision to seek a position on the Council? “As a Pastor and Assistant Pastor in the Ellwood and New Castle Areas, I have seen people from all walks of life. Working in the area steel mills for 25 years, I have also seen many hard working families with one thing in common, working together toward one goal! As a father and grandfather that is together with my family, I have seen the family values deteriorate in Ellwood. I believe in going to church. You also need to work and earn a living, so that you can help out with our local businesses. Therefore, the top of my agenda would be trying to have a vision with the other Council Members to bring in jobs, businesses, and promote good family values in town. Also, being married for 32 years, I have learned that the best way to get anything done is to compromise! I believe Ellwood City can be successful and prosperous again if we put our ideas together and come up with a plan to move forward in a positive way.”

Mike Capalbo
Current Profession:
Corporate Asset Manager
Experiences/Interests: 30 years work experience, previous positions include Region Manager and Director of Operations, Golf, Home Remodeling
What has brought you to the decision to seek a position on the Council? “Over the years, my family and I have enjoyed residing in Ellwood City. It has been through the efforts of those who served on the Council to provide a safe harbor for raising my son and daughter. I believe it is my turn to offer my skills and time to help continue the effort. When the debate over the Nativity being displayed occurred, I realized I had more than a passing interest in the process. I had reached a point in my life where I had the stability, professionally and personally, to make the commitment to participate in local government – either on Council or the School Board. I decided to run for a Council seat. If the residents of Ellwood decide I have the necessary abilities to help, I am willing to step up and serve.”

George Celli
Current Profession:
Biography: “George is a lifelong resident of Ellwood City and a graduate of Lincoln High School. He continued on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Robert Morris University. After graduating from college, he began his career here in Ellwood at the former Aetna Standard Engineering Company in export sales and accounting. Stricken with multiple sclerosis in 1980, he was forced to retire in 1986 with a disability retirement. Because of his outstanding commitment to the community, he was recognized as Ellwood’s “Young Person of the Year” in 1979. In addition, his continued involvement earned him the prestigious “Distinguished Service Award” in 2004. Both of these awards were bestowed by the Chamber of Commerce and the local Jaycee chapter. In 1996, he was appointed to council for the Borough of Ellwood City, a position he still holds today. During his seventeen years on council, he has served as president for two different terms and vice president. He has also served on various committees. All told, for the past 35 years, he has been involved in the community either as a volunteer or councilman. He believes in the people who live here, and he feels good about the future of our downtown area. George also has a son and daughter-in-law, Steven and Kayla Celli.”

Gene Coccia
Current Profession:
Retired Mail Carrier, Ellwood City, 36 years; Part-time Custodian, Ellwood City Area School District
Experiences/Interests: U.S. Army Vet, Appointed to Council (1 year), Ellwood City Recreation Board (15 plus years), Alternate Ellwood Zoning Board, Commissioner Ellwood City Girls Softball League (15 years)
What has brought you to the decision to seek a position on the Council? “I have no personal agenda – if elected to Council, I will have an open mind on all matters brought before Council, research the subject, and listen to both sides before making a decision. Some of the areas that we need to look at – taxes and services, crime and drug problem, vacant run down properties both homes and businesses, continue work with the ECR group, utilize our parks (Ewing Park and Stiefel Park) more, promote Ellwood City, and work to attract businesses.”

Anthony J. Court
Current Profession: Mayor of Ellwood City; Mortgage Broker
Experience/Interests: Local Politics (10 years), Planning Commission (2 years), Council (4 years), Mayor (4 years)
What has brought you to the decision to seek a position on the Council? “Ten years ago I took the approach to help our city. I care deeply for this community and the wonderful citizens in it. I’ve accomplished a lot in my terms but am no way going to stop. I feel strongly that more needs done. All in all, I believe in the citizens here, and know in my heart that Ellwood City is still one of the best places to be. I look forward to the challenges ahead and will continue to do my best as Mayor for all of Ellwood City, PA.”

Anthony DeCarbo
Current Profession:
Experiences/Interests: Law Enforcement (12 years), Council – Civil Service & Planning Committees, Fishing, Gardening, Cooking
What has brought you to the decision to seek a position on the Council? “I want to continue trying to revive Ellwood City. We are isolated and it is difficult to entice new businesses and manufacturing unless drastic changes in policy and thinking are made.”

David DeCaria
Current Profession:
Owner of DeCaria’s on 5th Hairstyling Salon
Biography: “As the current vice president of the Ellwood City Area Chamber of Commerce, I am the creator of the Pride In Ellwood (P.I.E.) initiative. I am also acting chairperson of the annual 5th Grade Walking Tour and 6th Grade Ewingparkapolluza, the goal of these events is to give our young people a sense of history, ownership, and pride in their community. I have served as a member of the steering committee for The Towne Center Associates program through the borough in 2012-2013. I am an active member of the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church and serve there as Eucharist minister, Lector, and as a pianist and organist in the music ministry. As part of the community effort at Christ Church, I also serve as the organist for the Boar’s Head Festival.”
What has brought you to the decision to seek a position on the Council? “The need for transparency in local government is essential to maintaining integrity in its operation and as one of my goals, it also dispels the rumors of the ‘good ole boys club’. With the recent completion of the new plaza by ECR and the Towne Center Associates marketing study, Ellwood city is poised for business growth and downtown improvement. It cannot be done without vision. A clear direction and concerted effort by local government, the business sector, and the community at large is needed to achieve the goal of a vibrant downtown and the maintaining or escalating of property values for homeowners. My experience working with the public through business and on the non-political board setting of the Chamber of Commerce will help facilitate the accomplishment of these objectives.”

Judith S. Dici
Current Profession:
Retired/Substitute Teacher
Experiences/Interests: Spanish/English Teacher at Lincoln High School, Law Enforcement (16 years), Traveling, Working with Young People, and Fixing up the facades of the building in our downtown area
What has brought you to the decision to seek a position on the Council? “I am seeking re-election to EC Council for a second term as I have accomplished some of the goals I set for myself and for Borough residents during my first term and hope to succeed with the rest during a second term. As a teacher, I firmly believe that “keeping up” with advancements in education is essential. Likewise, local government officials should also be willing to make changes in their thinking as well as in the way they govern in order to benefit all of the residents they were elected to represent.”

Rocky Ierino
Biography: “My name is Rocky Ierino and I am running for City Council of Ellwood City, PA – my hometown since 1953. I have gathered a number of ideas from my family, friends, and neighbors who all want to help in returning our Small Town to the greatness of yesteryear. I hope to join the Council as a representative of the people’s ideas, and will join them in rolling up their sleeves to make this town a better place to live. There is no reason we cannot be a destination town like Volant or Grove City. We have plenty of history, architecture, charm, and over 6,000 able-bodied citizens to make that happen. For instance, rather than bickering about who makes the best pizza pie in town, perhaps we might be better well served joining together and branding our community as the “Land of Pizza Parlors”. I would like to have our neighbors in places such as Cranberry and Pittsburgh take a ride up to Ellwood on a Friday night when they are hungry for pizza, and decide which pizza to eat when they get here. During this campaign, I will be sharing with everyone some ideas for improvements including first draft visions for the Nativity, Teen Unemployment, our First Impression CURB APPEAL, Education, and Transportation. I would like to thank the Kitchen Cabinet Committee for the opportunity to have our voices heard during this campaign.”

Michele C. Lamenza
Current Profession:
Administrative Assistant for the PA Turnpike Commission
Experiences/Interests: I have worked for local government in Ellwood City as the Confidential Secretary for the Chief of Police and Mayor. I have worked for County Government as the Director of Records at the Lawrence County Jail. I am presently working at a State Level for the PA Turnpike Commission.
Biography: “I was born and raised in Ellwood City. I have lived our shared history, felt our losses, and enjoyed the successes of this wonderful town. I am one of the fortunate families to have both of my sons living and working in Ellwood City and the Ellwood area. I want to work to give more Ellwood City families the same privilege. Someday I hope to watch grandchildren grow and to enjoy many recreational areas that Ellwood City has and to have the opportunity to work and prosper without having to leave Ellwood City to find meaningful employment. The only way I have to insure that this happens is to be directly in a position that I would have a vote, and that is why I have chosen to run for Borough Council. If I am elected, I will focus on improving our downtown area by working with our elected officials, our legislators, and our grant writer to pursue any and every grant available to do so. I will research any recreational grant writer to pursue any and every grant available to do so. I will research any recreational grants that may be available. I will work closely with my fellow council people to entice outside companies to locate here in Ellwood City by offering progressive tax abatement, thus creating jobs. I will work very hard for the livelihood and safety for all of the citizen of Ellwood City.”

Connie R. MacDonald
What has brought you to the decision to seek a position on the Council?
“My decision to run for a seat on Council was made because of my concern about our community. I am a lifelong resident except for the 21 months when I served with the U.S. Army (13 months in Korea) during the Vietnam War. Our infrastructure (mainly streets and sewers) is deteriorating and needs attention. As our community ages, we need to address the conditions of our downtown and the community in general. Our parks and extensive recreation area are real assets. We have excellent public safety forces who protect us 24/7. Our municipally owned electric utility provides high quality reliable service at reasonable rates. As a small community, we are fortunate to have both a local newspaper and a local hospital. We need to spread the word more about nice it is to live here. As a former state government employee (Auditor General and Public Utility Commission), I am aware of many state programs. Being Fire Chief, Emergency Management Director, Zoning Officer, and Code Enforcement Officer in Ellwood City has provided me with valuable information about the community. I have been involved with the Carpenter’s Project, Calvin Presbyterian Church, County and Regional Fire Groups, and a member of both the American Legion and Moose Clubs. With my extensive background and involvement, I pledge to work to help make out community a better place to live.”

Brad Ovial
Current Profession:
Executive Director of the Lawrence County Learning Center
Experiences/Interests: School Teacher, Coach, School Administrator, University Supervisor of Student Teachers, School Board Member, Council Member, Taxpayer, Resident/Husband, Father of Two Grown Children
What has brought you to the decision to seek a position on the Council? “It is the continued lack of cooperation and teamwork among the council members and with the other groups and organizations that function within our borough. The lack of vision, leadership, and teamwork on this present council has lead to a stagnate downtown business district. This, in turn, has caused us to see a rise in drug trade, other crimes, and a lowering of property values in our borough. I believe that it is time for people that have had experience in leadership, who care about all residents from youth through seniors, who can work together with each other and the entities in our borough to bring economic development to the downtown, and who have a progressive vision to seek office. I believe that we can preserve the best ideas from our past and combine them with a new and proactive way of thinking to make the Ellwood City Borough a place that other towns will want to imitate. I believe that I have the knowledge and skill set to assist other like-minded leaders to achieve that goal. I would like to see our borough run like a business and the money to be spent as wisely as if we were running our own household. It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. It is time for a change, or nothing WILL CHANGE!”

Michael Parisi
Current Profession:
Truck Driver
Experiences/Interests: I’m interested in bringing the people back to our town.
What has brought you to the decision to seek a position on the Council? “I got interested in the Nativity fight. The deeper I got involved the more I seen [sic] we needed a Council change. Although I was fighting the FFR and Council, I seen [sic] a lot of room for improvement. We need Councilmen back in there that will listen to the people. We need Council people back in that will take consideration of what the people want. I would like to see that in our new Council people whomever they are.”

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