By Keith Gushard
The Crawford County Office of Voter Services was swamped with nomination petitions being filed Tuesday — the last day petitions were accepted for candidates to appear on the ballot for the May primary.
Throughout the day there was a steady stream of candidates appearing at the office at the Crawford County Courthouse in Meadville to file petitions. Candidates are seeking everything from school board seats to seats on city and borough councils to township supervisors to judge of elections.
“More than one hundred,” Melanie Mushrush, director of voter services, said of how many petitions remain to be processed today. Petitions were accepted up until the close of business at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
There are dozens of offices up for election at the municipal level this year — each one requiring a notarized petition.
Notaries within the Crawford County Courthouse said they processed more than 140 nomination petitions Tuesday alone with a total of more than 370 since Friday.
The full slate of candidates won’t be known until the last of the nomination petitions are processed by the Office of Voter Services.
“It’s going to take awhile to check the number of signatures and notarization,” Mushrush said, who added she expected the process to be completed by late afternoon today.
There are two county-wide offices on the ballot treasurer and clerk of courts; and one district justice office.
A Tribune survey of petitions processed through Tuesday afternoon found only three candidates for those three offices — all the current incumbents.
Christine Krzysiak, county treasurer, has filed for the Republican nomination, but no Democrat had filed.
Patricia Wetherbee, clerk of courts, has filed for the Republican nomination for that office, but no Democrat had filed.
Lincoln Zilhaver, the magisterial district judge for the Saegertown area, has filed both the Republican and Democratic parties nomination for that office with no other candidates filing.
Under Pennsylvania law, a candidate for a magisterial district justice post and a candidate for school board may cross-file seeking the nomination of other parties.
The number of petitions mushrooms quickly when adding up the offices.
Crawford County has 67 voting precincts — each precinct has an inspector of elections and judge of elections on the ballot. Then multiply each of those numbers by two as both major parties — Republican and Democrat — are expected to field candidates.
Then there are 51 municipalities — borough or township — with at least one council or supervisor seat up for election. A number of boroughs have mayoral seats up for election.
Next, add the county’s two cities — Meadville and Titusville — each with multiple seats up for election on their respective councils and mayoral races. Plus, the county has seven different school boards each with four seats up for election.
In school board races, PENNCREST School District has at least five candidates seeking the nomination to one of four seats. All five candidates have cross-filed as Republicans and Democrats.
Those seeking nomination in PENNCREST are Luigi DeFrancesco, an engineer; Harry Hicks, a retired educator; Mark Parker, a lineman; Gerry Deane a quilt vendor; and Fred McDermott, a radiologist.
Crawford Central School District has at least three candidates seeking the nomination to four seats, but at least one other candidate is expected. The three candidates have cross-filed as Republicans and Democrats. Those candidates whose petitions had been processed as of Tuesday are Jan Feleppa, a special education supervisor; John M. Amato, a business owner; and Jeff Deardorff, a retired educator.
Conneaut School District elects its school directors by region rather than on an at-large basis. There will be at least one race in Conneaut Region I where one seat is up for election with Brandon King, a mechanical engineer, and David Schaef, a publisher, filing. Both have cross-filed as Republican and Democrat.
In Conneaut Region II, two seats are up for election with Carol Bocan, a retired educator, and Dorothy Luckock, a business owner, each having cross-filed as Republican and Democrat.
In Conneaut Region III, where one seat is on the ballot, Donald Ellis Jr., a communications operator, has cross-filed as a Republican and Democrat.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.