Councilwoman scores primary victory over Democratic incumbent for Leechburg mayor
May 20—Leechburg incumbent Mayor Tony Roppolo lost to Councilwoman Doreen Smeal by fewer than 40 votes in the Democratic primary election, according to unofficial returns from the Armstrong County Election Bureau.
Smeal garnered 77 votes to Roppolo's 40.
There are 94 Republican write-in votes, so Smeal could face a challenger in the fall.
However, Smeal said Friday she anticipates the majority of the write-in votes will be for her. So she expects to run unopposed in the fall.
The write-in votes have not yet been identified or certified in Armstrong County.
Roppolo extended well wishes to his political opponent, a fellow Leechburg native.
"Ms. Smeal is a well-demonstrated and accomplished community activist. Her initiatives have elevated the area from a number of perspectives. I'm certain she'll continue to serve the area quite effectively and energetically in the capacity of mayor," Roppolo said.
Roppolo was appointed mayor in March 2022 after the unexpected death of Mayor Wayne Dobos.
Smeal, 69, and Roppolo both sought the mayoral appointment after Dobos' death; they tied during council's initial vote. But Roppolo, a former councilman, got the appointment because of his previous mayoral experience, having been elected in 2010.
"I'm honored and elated to again be of service to the Jewel of the Valley as its mayor during the last two years," Roppolo said Friday. "I want to thank the Leechburg Borough Council and the entire community for this most privileged opportunity."
Smeal was appointed to council Oct. 18 after the resignation of Councilwoman Ruth Bender.
The mayor of Leechburg is uncompensated. Their main duty is to oversee the police department. They preside over council meetings but don't vote on council actions except to break a tie.
Additionally, the mayor can perform marriages, determine police schedules and has the ability to suspend police officers.
During her campaign, Smeal touted attracting new businesses, jobs and tourism to Leechburg as top priorities.
"I'm very excited to start this new role in my life. I'm anxious to work with Mayor Roppolo to be advised about the workings of the position," Smeal said. "I'm really looking forward to working with the police department and have a good rapport with them. It's a big learning curve for me, but I'm up to the challenge and for whatever makes Leechburg a better community."
Smeal retired from PNC Bank after 39 years and volunteers with numerous organizations in Leechburg, including the Leechburg Area Community Association.
Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joyce by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .