Election set for Tuesday

By on October 28, 2015

Election Dems

by PATRICK BURNS

Political experts are bracing for particularly low voter turnout on election day on Tuesday. Nov. 3.

But that has not diminished the enthusiasm of local candidates running for seats on Ephrata School Board, the only locally contested race waged here.

Among the six names on the ballot for school board, four are incumbents and two are challengers vying for five open positions.

While voter turnout has been weak — about 16.7 percent of registered voters participated in the last local election in 2013 — there are some important races for judge positions on the state Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth courts that will shape the courts for years to come.

But as for the local school board election in Ephrata, there are five registered Republicans, while Suzanne M. Delahunt, director of music at Grace United Church of Christ is the lone registered Democrat on the ballot.

Delahunt and GOP candidate Neal D. Reichard, director of services at Ephrata Manor are not currently on the school board — however Reichard has previously served on the Ephrata board.

Two of the four incumbent candidates — GOP candidates Judy Beiler, pastor of The Worship Center; and Theodore Kachel, employed at Garden of Eden Produce —  have cross-filed on both the GOP and Democratic ballots.

Rounding out the school board candidates are Tim Stauffer, a teacher at Manheim Christian Day School, and Chris Weber, pastor of Ephrata Community Church.

There are unopposed GOP candidates on the ballot for Ephrata Borough Council and Ephrata Township Board of Supervisors. They are Dale Hertzog in the First Ward; Melvin Weiler, Second Ward; Ricky L. Ressler, Third Ward; Linda Martin in the Fourth Ward.

Martin will take the seat of long-time councilman Robert Good, who chose not to run for another four-year term.

As for Ephrata Township, incumbent GOP candidate Ty Zerbe is running unopposed for a return to his seat for a six-year term on the Ephrata Township Board of Supervisors.

While the pitiful voter turnout in the last local election in 2013 may repeat itself, the state-wide  judge races have a chance to draw voters.  The 2014 gubernatorial election drew 45.7 percent voter turnout – still way off from the 71.4 percent turnout in the 2012 presidential election.

The biggest race is for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court where seven candidates — three Democrats, three Republicans and one independent — are battling for three open seats.

State Superior Court Judge Christine Donohue; state Superior Court Judge David Wecht, Philadelphia Judge Paul Panepinto; state Superior Court Judge Judith Olson; Adams County Judge Michael George; Philadelphia Judge Kevin Dougherty; and state Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey

Those candidates and six others eliminated in the May primary raised $10.5 million and spent $8.3 million through Monday, according to the Associated Press.  The candidates have peppered their campaigns with TV attacks — the Dems have benefited from ads paid for by Pennsylvanians for Judicial Reform, and the GOP candidates supported by Washington-based Republican State Leadership Committee.

Leaders on both the Republican and Democratic parties emphasize the importance of voters to show up for the Supreme Court race vote. It is the first time since the 1700’s when there have been three judicial positions on the state Supreme Court to be decided.

Andy Spade chairman of the Warwick Area Republican Committee, hopes to highlight “all of our excellent candidates on the county and state level as well.”

“We especially would like to stress to the voters the importance of the statewide judicial races,” he said.  “The three openings on the Supreme Court are an historic opportunity to impact the make-up of the Court for years to come.”

Because of the nature of our appellate judges and justices, “we are often unaware of the importance of their roles,” he said.

“But their decisions impact our daily lives and we want to encourage the voters to come out and support our entire slate of judicial candidates, in addition to the local and county races,” Spade said.

Lancaster County Democratic Committee Chairwoman Sally Lyall underscored the court’s controversial decisions could come before the state’s highest court, making it important for voters to choose who holds the seats. She cited potential gun laws or the former voter ID law, which was struck down by a Commonwealth Court judge in 2014, as examples.

In a predominantly Republican county, Lyall said she is hoping for high Democratic voter turnout for the judicial races and the local ones.

“If [voters] care about having balance on their school boards or on borough councils, and they don’t want them run by one party or by the people who have run it the same way all the time, they should be out taking a look at voting for us, getting some new blood onto their borough councils or their school boards,” Lyall said.

Other uncontested elections include:

  • Akron Borough where the ballot includes incumbent Daniel McCormac, a sales associate with HomeSale Mortgage; and new candidates John Williamson, self-employed consultant; and Philip Benigno, business development executive for the Lancaster Barnstormers.
  • Adamstown Borough Council that includes three GOP candidates: Alexander McManimen, Jessica L. Kelly, and Mike Wetherhold.
  • Denver Borough Council, which also has three GOP candidates: Todd Stewart, Blake S. Daub, and John P. Palm.

Polls will be open for voting from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 3. For more details on polling locations and other Election Day information, visit co.lancaster.pa.us/elections or call 299-8293.

Patrick Burns is social media  editor and staff writer for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455.

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