Primary likely to decide supervisor seats in Unity, Hempfield

·5 min read

May 7—Republicans will battle it out within their own party primaries May 16 to earn a spot on the November election ballot in Unity and Hempfield township supervisor races.

No Democrats have filed to contend for one open seat in Unity and two open seats in Hempfield.


Three Republicans — Doug Murphy, Ed Poponick and Frank Zupanc — will be vying for one six-year seat on the board of supervisors.

Doug Murphy, 60, restores classic cars. He said he is running for supervisor because he wants to "help out within the township."

He would like to focus on helping students, specifically high school seniors, to partner with local businesses to give them more job shadowing opportunities and more chances to explore career possibilities.

He said his 40 years of business experience — 25 spent with Giant Eagle corporate — would enable him to create a five-year plan for the township to bring in new businesses and residents.

Murphy said he would keep on top of road maintenance and hopes to become a roadmaster if elected. He would strive to maintain tax rates to help the senior citizens in the community.

Ed Poponick, 61, is an incumbent seeking reelection. A township roadmaster, he is a lifetime resident of the community and, prior to becoming a supervisor, owned a sign, screen printing and advertising business.

"I want to continue to serve the township and move forward on all of the accomplishments we've achieved during the six years I've been there," Poponick said. "With working against inflation, going after more grants is a big thing. We've acquired some grants since I've been there and those have been a big help with paving, the public works building and playgrounds in the township."

He hopes to maintain an open line of communication with residents to work with them on any issues they bring to the board. Poponick also said he intends to support the fire department by securing more funding.

Frank Zupanc, 55, has worked as a transportation manager for UPS for the past 35 years. As a resident of the township for 20 years, he said he is running to help eliminate population loss.

Zupanc has coached youth baseball at West Point Little League and wants to prioritize more community events geared toward young people.

He said that bringing new business into the township will help retain younger generations, adding that the township has all the makings to support more people, citing construction of the Route 981 connector to ease of flow of traffic to the turnpike, and an airport that is able to attract more business.

"We need to be aggressive in making contact with businesses that are looking to grow and are looking for hardworking people that have skills and will show up daily for work," Zupanc said.


In Hempfield, four Republicans will vie for two, six-year seats on the board of supervisors.

Jay Anderson, 55, said he has been involved with the township's zoning hearing board and worked on the township's comprehensive plan, and running for supervisor seemed like a logical next step. A real estate appraiser, Anderson said he would like to see more community development and a push to add business in the area of Westmoreland Mall and Live! Casino Pittsburgh.

More residential subdivisions in an affordable price range could add to the township's tax base and increased parks and recreational opportunities that are easily accessible in the southern part of the township could improve the quality of life for residents, he said.

Becky Durbin, 50, decided to take the plunge and run for supervisor after toying around with the idea for a few years. Durbin is in her second term with the Republican State Committee.

"It's something that's instilled in me, it's for the benefit of the community," she said.

She hopes to create a more appealing environment, visually and otherwise, for current residents and young families looking for a place to live by tapping into available grants to improve buildings along the township's main commercial corridor, Route 30. Existing commercial development, recreation and a renovation project at Hempfield Area High School could be attracting factors to young families and the township should capitalize.

"Appearance does matter," she said.

Durbin hopes to foster better communication between the township and its residents by setting up a smartphone application through which residents could get information. She works at the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County.

Jerry Fagert, 62, previously served as a township supervisor from 2011 to 2017. He is hoping to get his seat back after encouragement to run again from his son, who died in 2022. Fagert is a Pennsylvania Turnpike maintenance worker.

If elected, he wants to take a look at the finances of the Hempfield Fire Department. He believes the department is overspending taxpayer money, but added that without taking a look at the finances, he's not sure how he would propose fixing what he deemed an issue.

"We need to get more volunteers, equipment," Fagert said. "It's going to take a lot of time to fix it."

George Reese, 58, is a self-employed general contractor who is running for his second term on the board. He hopes to continue to be part of preserving township services for residents at a millage rate that has remained stagnant for decades.

"It takes work to maintain that, "he said.

Reese wants to capitalize on growth opportunities in certain areas of the township while keeping a high quality of life for residents. He is looking forward to getting the results of a comprehensive plan that is meant to guide the township's future and hopes, if elected, to address resident concerns to improve the township.

"I'm anxious to see, through the comprehensive plan, what is on the mind of our residents," he said.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick by email at or via Twitter .