Grove City-based attorney Tim Bonner won a resounding victory Tuesday in the special election to fill a state House vacancy in the 8th District.
“I am humbled by the support and want to thank the voters for entrusting me with their vote,” Bonner said Tuesday night.
Bonner, of Pine Township, ran on the Republican ticket in Tuesday’s special election against Democrat Phil Heasley of Center Township, Butler County.
Unofficial results had Bonner claiming 75.4 percent of the tally with 3,941 votes against 1,288 for Heasley, based on results in all 31 of the precincts in Mercer County and the 15 precincts in Butler County.
The two candidates were vying for the seat vacated by former representative Tedd Nesbit, who was elected in November as a Mercer County Common Pleas Court judge.
The district covers eastern Mercer County and northwestern Butler County. Results will remain unofficial until ratified by the election boards in both counties.
In the 31 Mercer County precincts that were part of the election, Bonner got 2,719 votes, and Heasley had 763. Voter turnout was 16.71 percent in Mercer County.
Bonner, an attorney with McNickle and Bonner, Grove City, said he will transfer his practice to his partners at the firm, which will be looking to expand. He also serves as solicitor for Grove City and Sandy Lake boroughs, and said he needs to speak with council members from those two municipalities about his next move.
He thanked the volunteers who helped him achieve the victory, and he congratulated Heasley on running a positive campaign.
Bonner assures residents of the 8th District that he’ll be a strong voice on the floor of the state House on their behalf.
“I will tirelessly serve our district with honor and respect for others,” he said.
In Harrisburg, Bonner wants to see if there’s support for reduction in the size and cost of what is one of the nation’s largest and most expensive state legislatures.
Bonner’s other goals include removing able-bodied individuals from the state welfare program, repealing the state inheritance tax and eliminating the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.
Bonner, also a member of the Allegheny Health Network board of directors, a member of the sub-board of Grove City Medical Center and chairman of the Grove City City Health Foundation, will seek the full two-year seat for the 8th District in the spring primary.
That term starts in 2021, and he’ll be facing Scott Jaillet on the Republican ticket. Jaillet serves as a member of Grove City borough council.
Heasley, a business owner, is running unopposed in the spring primary on the Democratic ballot.
“We’re just gonna keep pushing through November,” he said on Tuesday night.
Heasley said he and his team will be educating voters and focusing on issues like healthcare and education, and he wants more people to see what Pennsylvania has to offer, like its parks, breweries, wineries and other businesses.
He thanked the grassroots organization that has been helping with his campaign, and he thanked those who voted for him.
“This is just about all the people... I haven’t done this alone,” he said.
Voting ran smoothly for the special election, according to several poll workers on Tuesday afternoon.
“This is very straightforward,” said Dede Wishing, a poll worker at College View Towers in Grove City.
By that time, they had 105 voters out of the 746 registered for that precinct – more than they were expecting.
“We had people lined up at 7 a.m.,” she said.
Wishing said voters didn’t seem to be concerned about the outbreak of COVID-19, an illness caused by the coronavirus. In response to the pandemic, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has closed all 500 of the state’s public school districts and requested that private businesses curtail their operations.
In spite of the restrictions, Tuesday’s three special elections went off as scheduled.
The Masonic Hall hosted voters from two precincts – one was moved from Quality Life Services in Grove City, which provides skilled nursing and personal care for seniors, who are at higher risk for coronavirus.
Like College View Towers, the poll workers at the Masonic Hall said the voting site was were busier than they expected.
By late afternoon, Ward 5 saw 124 out of 1,085 registered voters. Ward 3 processed 66 out of 718 registered voters.
“We were told that we could expect a low turnout,” said poll worker Karen McElwain.