GOP Regains Cambria Office After Eight Years

Johnstown Tribune-Democrat

Republicans Mark Wissinger and Douglas Lengenfelder captured two of the seats for Cambria County commissioner in a hard-fought campaign that saw two-term incumbent Democratic Commissioner Milan Gjurich lose his bid for a third term.

Thomas Chernisky, Gjurich’s running mate, won the third seat.

The Republicans take back control of the commissioners office after eight years of Democratic leadership by Gjurich and President Commissioner P.J. Stevens, who did not seek re-election.

GOP Commissioner Sam Valenty, who is serving an interim term, lost in the primary election.

In a county favoring Democrats by a nearly

2-to-1 registration edge, Wissinger was the top vote-getter in the four-way race with 28 percent.

Lengenfelder came in second (27 percent), with Chernisky coming in third (24 percent) and Gjurich trailing in the field (21 percent).

Wissinger, a Ferndale resident and retired schoolteacher, formerly served as a county commissioner for one term in the early 1990s.

He teamed up with Lengenfelder, a retired Air Force colonel who is a newcomer to politics.

They were at GOP headquarters in Richland Township when they learned of their victory.

“We had a consistent message,” Wissinger said. “Taxes was the big issue, and we also stressed economic development and transportation.”

He said he and Lengenfelder will work together in the coming weeks “to get fired up for January,” when they will take office.

Lengenfelder, a Richland Township resident, expressed appreciation to supporters, volunteers and voters.

“This was a team event,” he said. “Mark and I have been together from Day 1. We’re excited about the future. We think Cambria County has a great future, and we’re honored to be a part of it.”

Gjurich, in conceding the election, said, “It’s been a tough campaign — a lot of hard work, time and effort. I congratulate the winners and wish them well in the future.”
Gjurich said he was proud of his record.

“I can leave knowing the county is in better shape now than when we took office in January 2004,” he said. “I always addressed the issue with integrity and pride. I never traded my moral integrity or ethics for any vote.”

He said that he was unsure what the future will hold, saying, “I will take a couple of days off to explore my options.”

Chernisky, a Geistown resident who is a part-time, elected county jury commissioner, said that his victory was bittersweet because of Gjurich’s loss.

He said he was proud of the positive campaign they conducted.

He said that he was looking forward to working with the two Republicans.

“I can work with anybody,” Chernisky said. “It’s about getting things done and moving Cambria County forward.”