AlliedNews.com - Grove City, Pennsylvania

November 5, 2013

GC race highly contested

By Felicia A. Petro/Senior Reporter
Allied News

GROVE CITY — Candidates running for seats on Grove City School Board have overpowered this year's municipal election.

"I think it may be the biggest slate of actual candidates on the ballot for any single race," said Jeff Greenburg, director for Mercer County elections. The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 5.

"Certainly the school board race is interesting as to why there are so many, which is unique. It's the most highly contested, because there's a significant amount of people who won't win."

Seven individuals have a spot in the general election for four seats on school board, including those seats up for re-election by incumbents J. Scott Somora (R), William Reznor (R/D) and William Norris (I), who all made it on the ballot.

The fourth seat, held by school director Leonard Clarke - who is retiring after three terms on the board - is the only free one on the board open to new candidates Heather M. Baker (R/D), Paul Gubba (R), Dawnielle Minch (D) and John M. Sestak (D).

James R. Richardson ran in the primary for the board, but was outnumbered for a Republican seat for the general election.

Grove City council has six open seats, with only four on the ballot, including long-time council President George Pokrant (R), who is running unopposed for Ward 1.

Ward 2 incumbent Andrea Folkertsma will not be returning to council, leaving a four-year seat open in the general election for any write-in candidate who may be interested - or council will have to appoint someone if the seat remains empty.

Another seat in Ward 2 will be left vacant by Bill Matesich, who was appointed this year to replace councilman Patrick Chapman. No one, including Matesich, ran for the seat in the primary, however. If he had run and won, Matesich would have finished two years left on the seat, but that Ward 2 spot will now be left open for a write-in candidate or a council appointee.

Council incumbents Mary K. Mattocks (R) and Joel Bigley (D) will run unopposed in their Ward 3 and Ward 4 seats, respectively.

The only new candidate up for election is Todd Wood (R), who will run unopposed for Rich Talbert's seat in Ward 5. Wood had formerly been a member of council.

Randy L. Riddle (R) is running unopposed as mayor and incumbent Matthew D. Fischer won the primary election for the Republican seat against Shelli Oakes for tax collector.

Grove City council is the largest governing body in Mercer County with 10 seats, Greenburg said. "They only elect five every two years at any one time. They rotate. For the most part, there are experienced people on council."

Greenville council "has good participation" in the general election, he added. It had five individuals running for four council seats, with only one person withdrawing from the race after the primary, Greenburg said, "and I know there are a couple - maybe three - folks going as write ins."

Ron Faull (R/D) and Joseph Holmes (R) are running unopposed as supervisors in Liberty and Pine townships, respectively. Bill Sampsell (R) and Matthew J. Dailey (R), lost the seats in the primary election against the incumbents, respectively.

Not a lot of heat is seen between candidates in municipal elections. "Unfortunately, a large number of positions on the ballots are vacant with fewer candidates than positions available," Greenburg said.

"It's fairly typical someone will do a write-in than the work of circulating a petition in the spring to get on the ballot. There's a decent number that will be filled as a write-in. They only have to have one vote."

Greenburg said first-time voters - or individuals voting for the first time in a new precinct - will be required to present and identification. However, the identification doesn't have to include a photograph; it could be as simple as a utility bill or voter registration card, he said.

Regular voters will be asked to present photo identification at the polls, but it will not be required, he noted.

A voter I.D. law that is sitting in the state courts is the reason for the request; to get voters in the practice of showing identification in the event that the law is passed, Greenburg said.

If voters don't have identification or refuse to show I.D., they will be offered information about the proposed voter I.D. legislation, he noted.

Questions about proper voter identification by first-time voters may be directed to Jeff Greenburg at 724-662-7542.