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VOTER GUIDE '23 | Meet the candidates who took the time to respond to our questions

Part 1 of 3

In early September, Gazette 2.0 sent out identical questionnaires to the more than 50 candidates running for election to various local offices in the upcoming November elections. Responses to these six questions will be published as they are received in the Sept. 28, Oct. 12 and Oct. 26 editions. The answers are as submitted by the candidate with slight editing for style and grammar.

What follows are the responses of candidates Catherine Cocco, Cornell School Board; Gina Matergia Pravlochak, Robinson Commissioner; and Pamela Pulkownik, Crafton Borough Council.

Catherine Cocco
School Director

1. What made you decide to run this year?

I’m running for the Cornell School Board with a dual commitment to both arts education and academic excellence. Drawing from my 20+ years of teaching music both in public schools and at my local music academy, I understand the importance of arts education in fostering creativity and self-expression.

Simultaneously, I’m dedicated to academic excellence. I aim to work with fellow board members to enhance our academic programs, ensuring they meet the latest educational standards and provide every student with a solid foundation for future success.

Moreover, I’m determined to make the Cornell School District an appealing choice for parents. I want to see more families opt for our public schools over private alternatives. By promoting a well-rounded education that excels in both arts and academics, we can demonstrate that the Cornell School District is the best place for their children’s growth and development.

My goal is to create an educational environment where arts and academics coexist, allowing students to excel in both areas. This, in turn, will make the Cornell School District the preferred choice for parents seeking a high-quality education for their children in Coraopolis.

2. What would you like to accomplish during your tenure?

During my tenure on the school board, I am committed to promoting a well-rounded education that includes arts education and excellence in core curricular subjects. Additionally, I plan to collaborate closely with local officials to enhance community recognition for our students.

By forging partnerships with local government representatives and community leaders, we can showcase the talents and achievements of our students in various ways. This might include organizing community events, exhibitions, or performances that highlight the skills and creativity of our students. Through these initiatives, we can not only celebrate our students' accomplishments but also strengthen the bond between our schools and the broader community.

Ultimately, my goal is to ensure that our students receive not only a high-quality education but also the recognition and support they deserve from the local community, which can have a positive impact on their educational journey and future opportunities.

3. Can you talk about some recent votes you agree with and some with which you disagree?

While I don’t have access to specific recent votes due to limited documentation, I am committed to understanding the issues and making informed decisions in the best interests of our students and community. I believe in open dialogue and collaboration with my fellow board members to ensure that every decision aligns with our school’s mission and values.

4. What do you hope never changes about your community?

I hope that the close-knit sense of community and the strong bonds among our residents never change. These qualities are what make Coraopolis a truly special place to live and raise a family.

5. What would you like to change?

I hope to enhance community involvement in schools, develop programs and initiatives to encourage parents, community members, and local businesses to actively participate in the school system, creating a sense of ownership and pride in the community’s education.

Improve public school excellence; work towards improving the quality of education in public schools, emphasizing innovative teaching methods, updated resources, and highly qualified educators to attract more families to choose public schools over private ones. These changes can lead to a stronger and more vibrant community.

Collaborate with local businesses; forge partnerships with local businesses to provide resources, mentorship programs, and internship opportunities for students, creating a stronger connection between schools and the local job market.

Engage with nonprofits; collaborate with organizations like the Coraopolis Community Development Corporation and Coraopolis Youth Creations to develop after-school programs, mentorship initiatives, and community projects that benefit both students and the wider community.

6. What is your stance on climate change, and what would you like to do locally to address the issue?

I support practical, cost-effective measures that align with our community’s values. For example, I endorse initiatives like the current installation of solar panels on our school’s roof when they don’t increase costs or taxes for our residents.

I also believe we should prioritize fiscal responsibility while addressing environmental concerns. I would advocate for energy-efficient upgrades and maintenance practices within the school district that make sense financially and environmentally.

We must strike a balance between responsible stewardship of our resources and addressing environmental issues, considering the impact on taxpayers and the local economy.

Gina Matergia Pravlochak

1. What made you decide to run this year?

One of our esteemed commissioners, Sam Abatta, was not seeking the nomination.

As a successful business owner and a lifelong resident of Robinson with a deep connection to this community, I feel like I have had plenty of experience to make the right decisions for our township.

I want to get more involved by devoting my time to the Township of Robinson and give my best effort to help make this community an even better place to live for all of us and our future generations.

2. What would you like to accomplish during your tenure?

I want to continue the excellent services we provide while maintaining our park and roads, being mindful of our budget.

Knowing that as a community member, I will strive to make Robinson Township an even better place where one would love to live, raise their kids, play in our parks and be a part of this great township.

3. Can you talk about some recent votes you agree with and some with which you disagree?

No answer.

4. What do you hope never changes about our community?

I grew up in Robinson Township, I raised my five children here. I am a mother, business owner, and lifelong Robinson resident who loves this community. I want to help grow Robinson, but keep that small-town feel that we all love.

5. What would you like to change?

I love our community, but I will support upgrades to our parks and services as our township grows while being mindful of our budget.

6. What is your stance on climate change, and what would you like to do locally to address the issue?

I will comply with all DEP regulations. I would be in favor of purchasing efficient electrical and mechanical equipment for our township.

Pamela Pulkownik
Borough Council

1. What made you decide to run this year?

I am running for Council because I want to be involved in improving upon what makes Crafton a truly exceptional neighborhood.

2. What would you like to accomplish during your tenure?

My vision for Crafton encompasses growth that aligns with our values – cultivating and supporting diverse local businesses and ensuring that everyone feels invited to be a part of our community.

3. What do you hope never changes about your community?

Crafton's walkability is a gem, and I am dedicated to nurturing it further by attracting new businesses that can be conveniently reached, whether we're relaxing by the pool in Crafton Park or seeking the perfect gift at Blue Snail. In addition, I advocate for the development of new family-friendly housing options and the installation of electric car charging stations, positioning Crafton as a forward-thinking neighborhood.

4. What would you like to change?

Crafton is not just a great neighborhood; it's a gem in an ideal location. I aspire to join the ranks of those leading positive change, dedicated to steering Crafton down a path of inclusivity and charm for all its residents and visitors.

5. What is your stance on climate change, and what would you like to do locally to address the issue?

No answer.


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