A primary race worth watching is in Monroe Township, Snyder County, where farmer David Heimbach is challenging 18-year-veteran Timothy Wolfe for Monroe Township Supervisor.
After six terms on the job, Wolfe exhibited a cranky tone of arrogance toward the public in recent months. He clamped down on accountability after receiving criticism for the way the town handled flood response and later threw a hissy fit following a closed-door sessions with fellow supervisors and refused to lead the board meeting.
Such behavior at the grassroots of public service reflected an officer holder's sense of entitlement and impatience with the people who put him or her in office. It was a sign that Monroe Township, one of Snyder County's more commercially significant border communities, could use some new blood.
Heimbach's challenge represents an opportunity for voters to restore responsive democracy at the municipal level.
Elsewhere today, Union County has two candidates for coroner and Northumberland County has two candidates for prothonotary and clerk of courts. These county-level offices rely on a degree of acquired expertise to function efficiently, but they are not high profile, policy-making positions.
Still, they have become pivot points for personal and political loyalty.
The Northumberland County prothonotary candidates, in particular, have been overshadowed by endorsements from feuding occupants in higher office.
Candidate Jamie Saleski is backed by county commissioner Rick Shoch. Justin Dunkelberger has support from commissioner Vinny Clausi and former state legislator and former commissioner Merle Phillips, who was defeated when Shoch was elected.
Party politics is less of a factor in the Union County event, where the retirement of a long-time coroner opens the field for two Mifflinburg Republican contenders, Tod Steese and Dominick Adamo. Adamo owns and operates a funeral home. Steese has been an assistant funeral director for five years. Both have developed support through volunteer associations and civic service.
Elsewhere, there are contests for district justice, municipal office and school board throughout the Valley in this off-year election. Some of these roles are the first step toward a career in public service; some are the last office held to increase a public pension.
While a primary election is designed to settle a political party's nominee, registration realities and cross-filing opportunities mean many positions will be settled today.
Until Pennsylvania reforms election law, independent voters and fellow citizens are counting on party registrants to be the voices of democracy.