Voters in the upcoming May 18 primary will have a lot of choices to make — between the local, county and statewide offices, the number of candidates is growing — based on endorsements made by the state Republican and Democratic committees as well as announcements by candidates themselves.
Statewide, there are vacancies on all three appellate courts — Commonwealth, Superior and Supreme. The Commonwealth Court will have two vacancies; the Superior Court one; and the Supreme Court one.
Vacancies at those level occur when a justice reaches 75 years of age or somebody's appointed term has expired.
There are a number of candidates from both parties vying for the nomination.
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At the local level, the announcement by Andy Walker of his resignation was a surprise, but it's nice to see he will stay in the area. He was once mentioned as a possible candidate for county commissioner, but obviously passed up that opportunity.
However, staying in the area allows him to leave that door open in the future.
In the meantime, there are at least two candidates for city council on the Democratic ticket. Jack Harkless and Gretchen Myers have both indicated on Facebook that they are seeking the Democratic nominations for the two seats, now held by Sean Donahue and Jim Roha. To date, the only candidate I have heard for mayor is incumbent LeRoy Stearns.
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The retirement of District Magisterial Judge Rita Marwood wasn't too surprising as it had been rumored for a few years. Two other magisterial judges — Sam Pendolino of the Meadville area office and Amy Nicols — will be up for another term.
As you may remember, incumbents in those positions don't need to circulate nominating petitions. They only have to have their name on the ballot. I've heard no mention of them retiring — or anybody opposing them.
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With only a few weeks to circulate nominating petitions, voters should soon know who the primary candidates will be and can then do their homework — before going to the polls.
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Candidates are already lining up for future campaigns as well.
Several names have surfaced for the 2022 election of a U.S. Senator to succeed retiring Patrick Toomey. And, candidates are also lining up to run for lieutenant governor in 2022. As you might know, the governor and lieutenant governor's offices are up for election in 2022 as well.
Whether the two will run as a team depends on whether a proposed constitutional amendment is passed. The amendment calls for a change in how the governor and lieutenant governor are elected. Instead of being nominated individually in the primary and then running as a team in the general election, the change would allow the pair to run as a team in the primary.
The benefit is that would allow people who think alike to serve as partners. The downside is it may prevent different ideas to be shared.
Although it's more than a year away, statewide candidates (unless they are incumbents) must get name recognition early to be considered a viable candidate. It also allows those prospective candidates to test the waters and see whether their candidacy is a good choice.
As you know, any campaign — be it local, state or federal — requires a lot of time, commitment and money. It requires a lot of soul searching and cooperation and support from many people.
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At the county level this year, so far candidates will be Francis Schultz for judge (to succeed Judge Anthony Vardaro) and incumbent treasurer Christine Krzysiak and incumbent clerk of courts Patricia Wetherbee.
I am hearing rumbles that commissioners are considering combining clerk of courts and prothonotary in the future.
In the meantime, commissioners have to set the salaries for all elected officials for the next six years before the nominating petitions are turned in. That meeting is Monday via Zoom.
By law, the salaries have to be the same percentage rate across the board.
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That doesn't mean the officials have to take any increase. If memory serves me right, several years ago commissioners and several other elected officials didn't take the increases for at least one year.
Jane Smith is a retired Meadville Tribune reporter who specialized in covering government and politics.