Meadville Tribune

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March 5, 2013

Longo jumps out to big leprechaun lead

MEADVILLE — DUBLIN-ON-FRENCH-CREEK — The first count is complete and contestants in the race to win the coveted hat of Grand Leprechaun in the 26th Annual Jack Curtin St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Celebration have been ranked based upon the number of votes purchased for the grand sum of $1 each. At least 90 percent of the proceeds collected will be turned over to the charity of each contestant’s choice with the remaining proceeds going to the parade committee to help support assorted celebratory activities.

The final count is scheduled for March 15. When the winner is announced, all numeric totals will be revealed. Until then, the only information released is the rank.

After the first count, it can be revealed that contestants have collected votes in a range including numbers in the low four, three, two and zero figures.

Jamie Longo, campaigning on behalf of Seton Catholic School’s technology fund, leapt into first place with a lead so significant that if all the votes collected by the third- through sixth-place candidates are added together, she holds the lead by a margin of almost 36-to-1.

If the votes collected by the second-place contender, Josh Sherretts, campaigning on behalf of the Baldwin-Reynolds House, are added to all the others, Longo’s margin falls to 11.11-to-1, a still-not-insignificant lead.

Other contenders, in descending order, are Larry Dickson, CASA; Debbie Pavlek, Judith’s Jig Memorial 5K; Jack Lynch, Big Brothers & Sisters of Crawford County; and Amy Murphy Woods, United Way of Western Crawford County. So far, no write-in votes have been submitted.

Although she’s apparently keeping her votes to herself, Woods, with all the power of United Way under her command, is without a doubt an elephant in the room.

In this case, however, no one is avoiding the fact that she’s there. In fact, even at this remarkably early point in the race, the proverbial pit bulls are circling.

This is not to say, dear readers, that previous races to wear the coveted Grand Leprechaun chapeau have exactly been bucolic events evoking images including cute kittens and even cuter bunnies frolicking and tumbling over one another across sun-speckled fields of petunias.

Not hardly. But while other contests have taken on something of an edge, this one is already looking like a Ginsu knife.

The Lynch campaign, for example, announced Monday afternoon that one of its ballot boxes had been stolen from, of all places, the courthouse.

“I think it was Amy’s camp,” Lynch announced, hinting darkly that if the box is not returned by 1 p.m. today, he wants a full accounting. And maybe an arrest. “We don’t want to say publicly who we think it is at this time, but clearly it is Amy who has the most to lose,” he continued. “She knows a clear threat when she sees it.”

“Amy Woods is going down,” Longo agreed, adding fuel to the fire. “She keeps harassing me, but I keep telling her it’s for the children.

“I just have one thing to say to Amy Woods,” she added ominously. “I know where all my money is. I keep a close eye on all my money.”

Referring to the historic moment when Woods threw her hat into the ring by announcing that her campaign slogan will be “I want that hat,” second-place contender Sherretts piled on the attack. “I’ve gotten nice comments from a lot of people about my campaign,” he said. “And a lot of people are saying there’s no way Amy Woods will have that hat.”

As for Woods, she’s happily collecting votes all over the place and planning events with her campaign manager, 2012 Grand Leprechaun runner-up Lon Wilson.

Keeping his head safely above the fray, Dickson has thrown his body into the contest. Literally. On a newly-built CASA Facebook page, no less. He’s also recruited an experienced campaigner. “The Crawford County Dairy Princess has added this cause to her philanthropic adventures,” Dickson announced Monday.

Pavlek, firmly in the middle of the pack, is dressing every day in green.

Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at mspicer@meadvilletribune.com.

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