ELECTION 2023 | GOP’s Hunt, Rager cruise to wins in Republican race for Cambria County commissioner nods

EBENSBURG, Pa. – Party-endorsed Republican candidates Keith Rager and incumbent Commissioner Scott Hunt cruised by two opponents on Tuesday in the Republican primary for two Cambria County commissioner slots on the November ballot.

They will face incumbent Commissioners Thomas Chernisky and William “B.J.” Smith, who ran unopposed on the Democratic ticket, in November for the three commissioners’ seats.

In a rare move, the Cambria County Republican Committee last month endorsed Rager and Hunt in the primary without endorsing Johnstown candidates John DeBartola and Joseph Taranto.

On Tuesday, the winners each received more votes than the combined total of Taranto and DeBartola.

Final totals were Hunt, 8,934 (38%); Rager, 7,938 (34%); DeBartola, 3,361 (14%); and Taranto, 3,178 (13%).

Hunt, of Southmont, was first elected commissioner in 2019 and previously served as Upper Yoder Township supervisor.

“I think my hard work over the past three and a half years was noticed,” Hunt said in a telephone interview late Tuesday. “I think the voters responded to the position that I did what I said I was going to do.”

He added that his ability to work with the two Democratic commissioners has been an asset in the election.

“People are looking for elected officials who are experienced and even-tempered,” Hunt said. “I’ve been able to work with anyone to better our county. I’ve always been less about an agenda and more about working together to improve the area.”

Rager, of Salix, said he was grateful to his supporters and is already looking toward November.

“I’m starting tomorrow,” he said.

Rager sees some room for change in the county operations. He wants to look at the budget and review the operations of the county Veterans Affairs office.

The former Marine and member of the Forest Hills school board was employed by UPS for many years.

“I fixed the UPS center, and when I was doing that, I learned you never change anything until you get in there and see how things are working,” Rager said.

DeBartola and Taranto ran as a team, pushing to change the county operation.

“As commissioners, we will overhaul the services provided by the county. In doing so, we will see that they are streamlined and effective offering services on par with or better than other areas, not lagging far behind,” the two said, announcing their candidacies.

DeBartola did not respond to a request for comments following the team’s defeat.

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