MARS — As a friend of the late “Mayor Dick” Settlemire, new Mars Mayor Terry Onufer knows his buddy can never be replaced. But he will take inspiration from Settlemire’s dedication to the borough.
Onufer was sworn in as mayor on Dec. 3 to serve out the term of Settlemire, who died on Oct. 26. Onufer will be mayor until January 2014, when the winner of the November 2013 election will be sworn in.
Onufer has remained in touch with Settlemire’s family, including his children and grandchildren. Settlemire was Mars’ mayor for a decade.
“I could never replace Dick because he was such a beloved figure in this town,” Onufer said.
As mayor, he looks to share the knowledge of computer systems he has gained as a 16-year employee of US Steel, as well as his familiarity with issues like the Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction process.
Onufer also appreciates the hard fiscal work done by the borough council during the past decade, which he said has held taxes at a minimum for residents.
“I hope to continue the good work the council has accomplished,” Onufer said.
Onufer looks forward to serving as a liaison between the police force and council, and wants to be accessible to residents.
“I’m new at this, but I’m willing to learn and listen,” he said.
He and his wife, Lynne, and their three now-grown children moved to Mars in 1991 after seeking a place to live that would allow them easy access to his family in Pittsburgh as well as her family in the northwestern part of the state.
“My wife said this is a place where time stands still,” Onufer said.
The family appreciated the one-square-mile borough’s small town charm, the ability to walk to the grocery or drug store, the community swimming pool or a restaurant; and that neighbors watch out for one another.
“Mars was appealing on a lot of levels,” Onufer said.
While he has been involved in youth wresting and in baseball as a coach, and has served on the borough’s zoning and swimming pool boards, Onufer still wanted to make a difference in Mars.
“My youngest is a junior in college, and I have the time now to give back,” he said.