Cocalico Corner: Run for it … ballot slots abound in Cocalico

By on February 8, 2017
Donna Reed, author of the weekly column, Cocalico Corner

So, you think the election is long over.

Guess again.

It’s just about to start.

Beginning Tuesday, you may have someone knocking on your door looking for your signature … and ultimately hoping for your vote.

Because on Tuesday, the 2017 primary election season gets under way as hopeful candidates brave the rigors of February weather to get enough valid party signatures to attain a spot on the ballot.

And, here’s the important thing about this election: it’s a MUNICIPAL election. That means there are opportunities to serve on city, township or borough councils and boards, on school boards as well as in some county row offices.

If you read the Cocalico section of The Ephrata Review, chances are you keep up with the news out of East and West Cocalico townships and Adamstown and Denver boroughs.

Maybe you like what you’re reading and you want to be a part of what you view as positive actions being taken by the sitting officials.

But, then again, you might not be so happy. Maybe you don’t like the decisions the incumbents are making. Maybe you just don’t like how they conduct themselves.

Either way, you now have the opportunity to throw your hat in the ring.

There is substance in the old adage that “All politics is local.” There is also the reality that the status quo can change and often does.

There are a dozen or more local seats to be decided in the 2017 elections. The primary will cull the candidates to a single one in each party for each seat.

Here is the breakdown for what seats are up for grabs in the four main Cocalico-area municipalities —

Adamstown Borough: Four of the seven council members plus the mayor. All four-year terms.

Denver Borough: Four of the seven council members plus the mayor. All four-year terms.

East Cocalico Township: One supervisor slot. Six-year term.

West Cocalico Township: Two supervisor slots. One is a six-year term, the other a four-year term to complete the term of a supervisor who retired in early 2016. (Whenever vacancies/appointments occur midterm, the office with the remainder of that term is a part of the next municipal election.)

Amazingly, for each of these slots, a prospective candidate needs to get only 10 signatures on the proper petition issued by the Lancaster County Board of Elections. Republicans and Democrats must obtain the signatures from members of their respective parties residing in their respective municipalities. There is no cross-filing other than those seeking to be school directors or magisterial district justices.

Prospective candidates may collect signatures through March 7 when their notarized petitions must be filed personally in the board of elections offices. There is no cost to file a petition for these municipal offices.

As someone who has been down this petition path four times in Berks County, here are some tips from my experience:

* Get out there as early as possible starting Feb. 14 (you can’t legally get signatures before that date) and start knocking on doors.

* Make sure the signer exactly prints and signs his or her name as it appears on his or her voter registration card. (And make sure your signers are registered with the political party you are representing.)

* Make sure the signer has not signed anyone else’s petition. If Jane Jones has already signed Joe Schmoe’s petition for the council seat or supervisor slot you want, her signature on your petition is null and void.

* Make sure you get at least double the number of signatures required. I guarantee you that in heated races (and local ones can surely be), your challengers will double- and triple-check every signature on your petition. And, after the petitions are notarized and filed, there’s no re-do, no going back.

* Leave something behind. If folks are good enough to sign your petition, leave behind a small campaign card or magnet or emery board to remind them of the May primary and that you’re counting on their support. If someone is especially enthusiastic, follow up with a visit or call to see if he or she would like to volunteer with your campaign or walk door-to-door with you in the spring. (But make sure what you leave behind is something without monetary value — that’s critical from an ethics perspective. No bottles of wine, boxes of candy — well, you get the idea!)

After your petitions are filed and you are on the ballot, get out there and make your case. In the years I’ve gone door-to-door for my own and others’ campaigns, I’ve only had two of those hundreds of doors slammed in my face. Folks are grateful that you care enough to stop by and most genuinely enjoy a conversation about the municipality they call home.

Also — and this is critical — your decision to run should be from the heart, it should be a calling of sorts. Contrary to the skepticism and sarcasm of the times, good people do run for office and that includes incumbents and newbies alike.

And … don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t run. Sixteen years ago, when I first decided to seek a Reading City Council seat, the then-chair of my party’s county committee escorted me to the door of the meeting site with a stern: “We don’t want people like you running for office.”

New to the process, I was somewhat stunned. But as a former reporter (at that time), I knew what he meant — he didn’t want an outsider who might not kowtow to the bosses.

I’m happy to say I remain an outsider to this day, sharing my party’s basic philosophy but not allied with any party bosses. My bosses are the 16,000-plus constituents I represent through January of next year. I don’t care if they are Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, or independents. They are my fellow citizens and I’m honored to be their representative voice.

So, if the party doesn’t like you or endorse you (parties shouldn’t endorse in primaries, anyhow!), don’t be dissuaded. Stand up and be counted on your own — it’s likely to be very appealing to the voters in this ascerbic political atmosphere.

Get those signatures, file those petitions and work hard to be a part of quality governance in your neck of the woods.

There is so much good you can accomplish and I guarantee you that public service is one of most noble things you’ll ever do.

 

Side Bar

Candidate endorsed

Romao Carrasco has received the endorsement of the Cocalico Area Republican Committee for the post of East Cocalico supervisor.

Barry Weaver, Chairman of the Cocalico Area Republican Committee, announced in a press release that a unanimous endorsement for Carrasco was reached following candidate interviews on Jan. 18.

“First, the committee wishes to thank the Board of Supervisors who served the people of East Cocalico very well,” Weaver stated. “In particular, we express our thanks to Noelle Fortna, who, during a moment of an untimely vacancy on the board, stepped forward to fill the gap. She has served with fidelity and dedication.

“At this time, the committee felt it prudent to recognize another community member who has stepped forward to serve, Romao R. Carrasco.”

Carrasco and his family have lived in the area 16 years and call Quail Hollow home. He has municipal water authority experience and is a business owner.

“We’re encouraged by his interpersonal skills, business acumen, fiscal responsibility, conservative and family values, and felt he’d be a good fit to complement the board,” said Weaver.

The committee will support Carrasco at the May 16 primary for the position of East Cocalico supervisor.

 

2017 Pennsylvania primary election schedule

First day to circulate and file nomination petitions : Feb. 14
Last day to circulate and file nomination petitions : March 7
First day to circulate and file nomination papers: March 8
Last day for withdrawal by candidates who filed nomination petitions: March 22
Last day to register before the primary: April 17
Last day to apply for a civilian absentee ballot: May 9
Last day for County Board of Elections to receive voted civilian absentee ballots: May 12
Municipal primary: May 16

Source:  Commonwealth  of  Pennsylvania  Department  of State: Bureau of Commissions, Elections, and Legislation.

 

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