Tomorrow, Tuesday May 17, is election day, and Norristown Patch is hoping to help you make your voice heard. We've already given you . Now we want to give you a rundown on the candidates and the offices up for grabs.
So, who’s running? Excellent question. There are a lot of candidates vying for a few spots on the November ballot. Let’s break it down, starting with the state level.
Norristown Patch is following these state primary races that will be on the ballot on Tuesday:
Pennsylvania Superior Court
Vic Stabile (R) and Paula A. Patrick (R) are going head to head for the Republican spot, and David N. Wecht (D) is running un-opposed for the Democrat spot in the November 2011 general election. Elected judges hold this office for 10 years.
Pennsylvania Commonwealth Courts
Paul P. Panepinto (R) is facing off against Anne Covey (R) on the Republican side, while Kathryn Boockvar (D) and Barbara Behrend Ernsberger (D) battle for the Democrats. This is also a 10-year term position.
There’s a lot going on in Montgomery County politics, and there are important positions up for grabs. The people who hold these offices affect our daily lives pretty significantly, so it’s a good idea to pay close attention to these races.
Court of Common Pleas, District 38
The 38th District covers all of Montgomery County, and it’s the first race in our list where we encounter a fun little political point of interest called . Essentially, candidates for certain races in Pennsylvania (courts and school district) can file as both Republicans and Democrats in the primary. They can lose one side and still make it to the November ballot by winning the other, or if they win on both sides in the primary, they have a bit of an easier time in November with no major party contender.
In the 38th District, Richard Haaz, Dan Clifford and Maureen Coggins have all cross-filed as both Democrats and Republicans. Cheryl Austin is the only candidate running on one party—the Democrats. This is another 10-year term office.
Montgomery County Commissioner
This will be a hot one in November—with two seats up for grabs and a bit of scandal in the office last year—but the primaries will be pretty straightforward. There are two slots, and Democrats are offering up a team ticket of Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards, while the Republicans give us Jenny Brown and incumbent Bruce Castor.
The elected officials will hold office for a four-year term.
Clerk of Courts
Yes, we actually elect a coroner every four years. This one is another easy one, with Walter I. Hofman on the Democrat ballot and Gordon S. Clement on the Republican ballot. Coroners hold office for four years.
This one is the easiest of all, with only incumbent DA Risa Vetri Ferman on the ballot for the Republicans. The Democrats haven’t even put anyone up for this seat. If no one stands in November, Ferman will stay DA for another four years.
We thought we’d better explain this one a bit for any political novices out there. According to the county’s website, “Prothonotary” is Latin for “first, chief or highest administrator,” and he or she is the civil clerk of the Court of Common Pleas. The Prothonotary is responsible for recording all civil procedures before the court, signs and seals all writs, and processes numerous other documents for the court.
The office is also responsible for the recording and filing of legal papers involving personal injury, medical malpractice, divorce, custody, protection from abuse, judgments, change of name, school audits, driver’s license suspension appeals, District Justice appeals, mechanic’s liens and federal income tax liens. The Prothonotary also administers oaths and affirmations and processes passport applications. This elected official holds office for four years.
Recorder of Deeds
Register of Wills
We’ve actually got a bit of a race here, at least on the GOP side. Republicans will have to choose between (no relation to former Montgomery County Sheriff John P. Durante who passed away last year) and Eileen Whalon Behr. The Democrats will only have William A. Holt, Jr. on the ballot. The sheriff holds office for a four-year term.
The Democrats will have Jason E. Salus on the ballot, and the Republicans will put Chuck Wilson forward. The position of treasurer is another four-year office.
Norristown Area School Board
Norristown has quite a few races going on, but the one that most folks will want to keep an eye on is the Norristown Area School Board race. Huge cuts in education funding from the state that may need to be made up with local tax hikes and the general academic future of our children make this a race that everyone has a stake in.
There are five seats to be filled and a full plate of candidates vying for the position. To make it even more interesting, this is one of those races where candidates can cross-file to run on both party’s tickets.
Here’s who we have on the ballot: Albert Mauthe, Sue Christensen, Ken Christovich, Christa U. Henderson, Frances M. Cubberley, Michael Melnyk and Janice Pearce have all cross-filed to run on both tickets. Laura Diana Rivera and Iva J. Ferrell have filed on the Democratic ticket only, and Scott Felix is running only as a Republican.
Norristown Municipal Council
There are four council seats to fill—Wards 1, 2 and 4 and a Coucil-at-Large seat. Here’s the breakdown:
Council-at-Large: Troy A. Beane is on the GOP ballot, and Dwayne D. Royster and Al Cianciulli are battling or a spot on the Democrat ballot.
Ward 1: This is a special election to replace retiring council member Mila Hayes. Russell C. Morello, Jr. (R) and Mary M. DeSouza (D) are battling for the seat. It's the one race everyone can vote in regardless of party affiliation.
Ward 2: William Caldwell stands alone on the Democrat ticket. There is no Republican vying for this seat.
Ward 4: David M. Hodo and Gary H. Simpson face off on the Democrat side and Joseph E. Epifanio stands alone on the GOP side.
There's just one more race you’ll have to weigh in on, but it shouldn’t be too taxing. (That’s an election joke, folks.) Judge Margaret A. Hunsicker has cross-filed on both tickets to continue being District Justice of Magisterial District 38-1-16.
So that’s the line up for the 2011 primaries. You can see a sample of the ballot you’ll be filling out in our PDF section. Just find your voting district on the Board of Elections website, and check that ballot.
It’s also worth noting that if you don’t like any of the folks on the ballot as it is, there’s a spot for write-in candidates for each position. Don’t bother with the joke write-ins, though. Justin Bieber is never going to win. (That’s right, I said never.)
Norristown Patch will be visiting polling locations throughout the day to check in with voters and poll workers about how things are going. We’ll also be reporting the outcomes of races as they come in and checking in with candidates for their reactions.
If you see a problem on voting day, give us a call at 610-308-9881 or email editor James Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll be on the scene to make sure the public at large hears about it.