After decades of Pennsylvania not really having a "voice" in the presidential primaries because our primary election is so late, that could be changing.
The state Senate approved a bill last week that would change the date of the state's primary election during the presidential elections to the second Tuesday of March. That would be five weeks earlier than it is now.
The issue is that usually by the time Pennsylvania voters to go the polls to choose a nominee, other states have completed their voting and the nominees in both parties have wrapped up the nomination. That usually means Pennsylvania can vote, but it doesn't matter. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
It will be interesting to see how the House votes given the fact all House members are up for re-election every two years and would be on the ballot with the presidential candidates.
To many, it should also mean a higher voter turnout as voters would realize they could make a difference.
The bill, if passed, would go into effect in 2024.
One indication of the importance of Pennsylvania could be seen in the amount of money being spent right now by one presidential candidate in television ads alone. That could increase dramatically, in my opinion, should that bill pass and make Pennsylvania a "real" player in the presidential election.
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This year's primary will have a contested race for the 6th District state House seat on the Republican ballot. Jeff Brooks, who serves on PENNCREST School District, has announced he will challenge incumbent Brad Roae, who has also announced his candidacy for re-election.
The winner in the April primary is expected to face Democrat Matthew Ferrence, who to date is the only Democrat candidate who has announced for that seat.
One issue which may come to light in that race is whether to raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania. Although attempts were made to raise it last year, it was never brought to a vote. Gov. Tom Wolf is now bringing it up again, and time will tell whether he can get it passed.
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Stacy Garrity has announced her candidacy for state treasurer and has been endorsed by the state GOP Committee. She is the sole candidate who has announced her intention to challenge incumbent Democrat Joe Torsella.
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As people are looking toward the future, the issue of fair districting for elected offices continues. Fair Districts PA will hold a public forum in Crawford County in April, so the importance of the changing how district lines are made can be explained.
Gerrymandering is the political term used about the issue. It means the majority party in power when the district lines are drawn often draw them to give their party an advantage.
It also shows the importance of making sure people are counted in the census — because that's where the numbers come from!
It's a big issue and can mean a lot of money coming into a district as often state and federal funds are based on population. The committee has been working for several years to get the public's attention to it and to get what it believes will be more even districts politically.
The date and time of the forum will be announced.
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Next month will have another local election — that of president of the Crawford County Fair Board. Previously nominated were Crawford County Commissioner Francis Weiderspahn and fair board member George Deshner. It was a tie when voting was done initially.
Ryan Smith, the newest appointee, now will vote on that office. For those not familiar with Smith, he is the son of Mary Smith, former county prothonotary; and Dale Smith, and grandson of Art Getchell, longtime vendor at the fair who owned and operated Art's Place on the midway and was fondly known as "Mayor of the Midway." Although he sold his business, he still has maintained his involvement at the fair.
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Meadville City Council has scheduled a work session on a Saturday to review and discuss the budget — particularly to acquaint new council members Autumn Vogel and Larry McKnight with in-depth figures and facts about the budget.
When discussing it recently, the question came up about what all is needed, to which one city official replied: "Food," noting that "after three hours, we need food."
Apparently, it is anticipated the session will be lengthy.
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Speaking about Getchell, we send condolences and note many courthouse and other county officials — as well as others — mourn the death of his daughter, Yvonne (Bonnie) Kilburn, who died recently.
She was a longtime county employee, working for Magisterial District Judge Mike Rossi. She was involved in many community activities and was well liked and very committed. She will be missed for certain.
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Condolences also go out to former Magisterial District Judge Bill Chisholm, whose father passed away recently in Florida.
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Congratulations go out to Nick Loiacona, who retired recently as chief of the Crawford County Adult Probation Office. He was always a professional and very nice to work with when I was a news reporter, always being calm and cooperative.
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Another question that remains unanswered is whether the governor is going to appoint a new judge for Crawford County to succeed Anthony Vardaro, who retired recently.
Jane Smith is a retired Meadville Tribune reporter who specialized in covering government and politics.