Epic Battles No. 23: Myron takes on Bambie in Kulpmont
Kulpmont has always taken its politics seriously, and in the spring of 1977, folks from one end of town to the other were very much tuned in to what became the borough's most hotly contested intra-party fight ever.
It was the battle of "Bambie versus Myron."
The leading players in that political saga were incumbent Mayor Ralph "Bambie" Miriello and Myron Zarlinski, who were candidates for the Democratic mayoralty nomination.
Signs proclaiming "Myron for Mayor" or "Re-elect Miriello," or sentiments to that effect, abounded on porches, windows and front yards. And it seemed no one was neutral. The supporters of the candidates never actually resorted to fisticuffs, but it probably came close.
When the dust cleared election night, Miriello had edged Zarlinski by a small margin, 744 to 710 votes. Miriello went on to win his third consecutive term as Kulpmont's chief executive.
Zarlinski actually carried two of the borough's three voting precincts (the Second and Third), but Miriello was saved by the First Precinct vote (310 to 227 in his favor)
Only about 40 percent of registered voters throughout Northumberland County turned out for the primary. In Kulpmont, however, 76 percent of registered Democrats voted in the Bambie-Myron race. In what is a testament to borough residents' interest in the political process and community spirit, Kulpmont has traditionally ranked higher than most county municipalities in voter turnout.
Miriello was Kulpmont's dominant - and most durable - political figure for three decades. He won elections regularly, but sometimes by the skin of his teeth. Because he wasn't afraid to speak his mind, some people loved him; others did not.
Miriello won his first term as mayor in 1969 by just three votes over incumbent Dimitri Lahaza. That election was a rematch of 1965 when Lahaza edged Miriello to become the borough's first Republican mayor in a half-century.
Miriello gave up the mayoralty in 1981 to seek and win election as a member of Kulpmont Borough Council. In 1985, he ran for mayor again, winning his fourth and last term by just four votes.