Meadville Tribune

June 7, 2014

No matter who wins state gubernatorial race, his name will be Tom

By Jane Smith
Meadville Tribune

— Now that the primary election is over, all eyes turn toward November when Pennsylvania will elect or re-elect a governor. In any case, unless something drastic happens, his first name will be Tom — either Democrat Tom Wolf or incumbent Republican Tom Corbett.

One major hurdle for political parties when there is a contested primary is to have all the candidates who lost come together quickly to support the winner. Democrats — both Wolf and those who lost — all gathered for a breakfast the day after the primary. Joining them were former Gov. Ed Rendell and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey.

Photos taken that day show they were all smiling and appeared congenial. That was the first step toward the healing process. Now we will have to wait and see how many of those candidates get out on the campaign trail and support Wolf.

Locally, Republicans will have to come together to work for the 17th State House of Representatives office now that the primary is over. Republican Parke Wentling of Mercer County faces Democrat Wayne Hanson, a retired district justice, in the fall.

And, they also will have to come together to support Michele Brooks, who faces Democrat Michael Muha for the right to succeed retiring Republican Bob Robbins. It’s no secret the state party officials will work hard to win that Senate seat.

Political observers are looking ahead to 2016 when U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey will be up for re-election. Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane is being named as a potential opponent in that race. A recent poll reportedly shows she is favored by two points over Toomey.

Locally, many people are very frustrated with the lack of response from Kane’s office about a proposal for Conneaut Lake Park. Despite efforts for more than a month now, the AG’s office is still not responding to what its stance is on the proposal for the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County to take over the management of the park. Many people heralded the AG’s office when it filed action to have the Trustees of CLP removed but have remained quiet now that the Trustees agreed to a proposal — pending approval by the AG’s office.

While on the surface this issue may seem minor compared to other issues with which her office is dealing, it is a matter of importance locally and to those who have invested interest in the future of the park.

Secondly, since the office was involved in the negotiations for such an agreement, it raises the question of why there is a hold up and why there is secrecy.

Another question being raised is if a new board is seated, who makes the appointments? There are many interesting issues.

Crawford County commissioners are taking some heat, as the CLP issue was one raised in the commissioner campaign three years ago. Commissioners now are considering a sheriff’s sale instead of a tax claim sale.

Commissioners will be up for re-election next year and we are already hearing some rumblings about potential challengers — but no names. Perhaps, those rumblings are just “wishful thinking” on the part of some disgruntled people.

Several major issues from the 2011 campaign still remain unsolved, including Conneaut Lake Park, the lack of courthouse space and the building of a new Mead Avenue Bridge to name a few. Some things the commissioners have no control over. Others just apparently take more time than the commissioners realized when they ran. Another issue being raised is what some appears by some to be excess spending — particularly in terms of more staff being added.

While this year’s election is going to be interesting, next year’s may be more intense. In addition to the three commissioner seats, most of the other county offices also will be on the ballot. We are hearing some potential candidates for some offices, but so far nothing concrete and nobody is willing to give names.

County employees were saddened with the recent death of Steve Maziarz, who was retired from the county assessment office. All county employees and others were sending their deepest condolences to former County Commissioner Morris Waid and his wife, Donna, on the recent death of their grandson, Kyle.

Jane Smith is a retired Meadville Tribune reporter who specialized in covering government and politics.