By Jon Delano

SHALER (KDKA) — Over the weekend, local Republican leaders picked their candidate to replace former state senator and convicted felon Jane Orie.

His name is Randy Vulakovich, a state representative from Shaler.

Vulakovich, who is in Harrisburg this week for budget votes, spoke to KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano and says of Orie, “She did a lot of great things. She did.”

The lawmaker hopes that voters in the North Hills and southern Butler County won’t hold it against him that he’s a Republican like Orie, asking voters to look at his public and private record in law enforcement.

“I had a private record of 27 years with the Shaler Township police department and I would hope that my reputation stands up for me.”

Besides Vulakovich, voters in the 40th senatorial district can also vote for Dr. Sharon Brown of McCandless, a Democrat and registered nurse with a PhD in public health.

Brown sees herself as a new voice.

“We’ve had almost two years of negative publicity and negative coverage. We need to come out of that. We need to come out of that strong. The citizens need to be put first again.”

Brown says area residents need a strong opponent to Governor Corbett’s budget cuts, especially in education.

“The bare bones was done already. It’s going to be the absolute decimation of our education system, and for what purpose I don’t know.”

While it’s been decades since a Democrat has represented this district in the state senate, all bets are off when it comes to a special election — especially in the summer.

With perhaps only 15 to 20 percent of the voters expected to vote, the key for the candidates is getting their supporters to vote.

Election Day is just seven weeks away on Tuesday, August 7.

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