More than half of Valley cast straight party vote

A line of voters wait to cast their ballot in Mahoning Township in 2018.

Staff reports

There are few contested races in the May 18 primary election in the Valley, but voters do have options for some high-profile races, including seats on county and state benches, two mayoral races and most school board elections.

Monday is the deadline to register to vote before the primary with a May 11 deadline to apply for a mail-in or civilian absentee ballot, and the deadline at 8 p.m. May 18 for a county’s Board of Elections to receive voted mail-in and civilian absentee ballots.

Along with local races outlined below, there are three statewide judgeship races and three ballot questions relating to the termination or extension of disaster emergency declarations, disaster emergency declaration and management, and prohibition against denial or abridgment of equality of rights because of race or ethnicity.

Union CountyUnion County’s 2021 primary election ballot will include many familiar names seeking re-election but few contested races for Republican or Democrat party nominations.

The only contested countywide race is for a judgeship in the 17th Judicial District of the Court of Common Pleas, which covers Snyder and Union counties.

Middleburg District Judge Lori R. Hackenberg and Lewisburg attorney Brian L. Kerstetter, who is an assistant district attorney in Snyder County, each cross-filed as Democrat and Republican in the primary. The candidates are vying for a 10-year term. The seat is currently held by President Judge Michael T. Hudock, who will retire at the end of this year after serving one term. Should either candidate win both party nominations, they effectively win the position barring a successful write-in campaign in November’s general election.

For township and borough races in Union County, there are just three contested races: Democrats Kendy Alvarez and David Alan Heayn, mayor, Lewisburg Borough, four-year term; Republicans Stanley L. Bingaman and Gary L. Ruhl, supervisor, Limestone Township, six-year term; Republicans Karen M. Troutman and Jennifer Balatincz, inspector of elections, four-year term, Lewis Township.

Longtime mayor of Lewisburg Judy Wagner did not file to seek re-election.

Snyder CountySeven candidates are running for five seats on Selinsgrove Borough Council. Seeking reelection to four-year terms are Democrats Marvin Rudnitsky, Sara Lauver and Bobbie Owens, along with Democrat Sara Maul who was appointed in 2020 to fill former council member Grant Neff’s seat until the election. Republican newcomers Scott Frost, John Fromille and Jason Daniels, who is a candidate for the two-year term, will also be on the primary ballot. Selinsgrove council member Erik Viker is not seeking another term.

In Monroe Township, long-serving Republican incumbent Supervisor Dean Davis will face a challenge from Republican Ryan Mack.

At Midd-West School District, five people will be on the ballot for four board seats. Incumbents Chris Nesbitt and Sherryl Wagner, former board members Tony McNight and Stephanie Bowersox, as well as Sara Erdman, are seeking election. Not running for another term are board members Donald Pinci and Wyona Lauver.

Four Selinsgrove School board incumbents, Kenneth Teats Jr., Kara Taylor, Andrew Paladino and Matthew Slivinski, and two other candidates, Christopher Aikey and David Watto, will be on the spring ballot. Board members Amy Stauffer and Dennis Wolfe are not seeking reelection.

Montour CountyDanville Mayor Bernice Swank will face a challenge as will borough Tax Collector Chas Bartholomew.

Five candidates also are seeking nominations to run for two four-year seats on the Danville Area School Board, while three candidates have filed nomination petitions to run for three two-year seats on the board.

Stephen Humphries, of Danville, is challenging Swank for the Republican nomination for mayor. There are no Democrats running, so the May 18 winner will serve as the borough’s next mayor.

Carol Huntington, of Danville, is Bartholomew’s opponent seeking the GOP nomination to run for tax collector. No Democrats are competing for the seat.

Robert W. Buehner Jr., of Danville, and incumbents Castan Kiersch, of Danville, and Yohannes Getachew, of Danville, all cross-filed to seek both parties’ nominations to run for the two four-year school board openings. Judicial and school board candidates are permitted to cross-file. Richard A. Vognetz II, of Danville, and Christine F. Gordon, of Danville, filed to run for Republican nominations. Sherry L. Cooper and Michael A. Clouser, both of Danville, cross-filed to run for two of the two-year seats. John Croll, of Danville, is vying for the Republican nomination to run for the third two-year opening.

Northumberland CountyNorthumberland County prothonotary is the only row office of four that will feature a competitive race on May 18.

Incumbent Jamie Saleski and Dan McGaw are facing off against each other on the Republican ticket. Jason Radel, a political newcomer from Milton, is the only candidate on the Democratic ticket. Saleski won her first four-year term in 2017, having worked as a data entry clerk in the prothonotary’s office since 2007. McGaw, a former Shamokin City councilman, ran unsuccessfully against Saleski in the 2017 primary election as he tried to secure the Republican nomination.

There are competitive school board races in two regions in Milton, one region in Line Mountain and Shamokin Area where five candidates are running for four seats.

Linda Lou Gutkowski and Dr. Richard Huskey are vying for the Line Mountain, Region III, seat. Brett T. Hosterman and Jason E. Radel are vying for a Milton, Region II, seat and Kevin Fry and Joshua Hunt are veying for a Milton, Region III seat.

Laura Scandle, Bernadette Miller, Edward M. Griffiths, Brian G. Persing and Erik S. Anderson are running for the four Shamokin seats.

The Danville school board candidates listed above are also on the ballot in Riverside and Rush Township, which are both located in the Danville Area School District but are in Northumberland County.

There are two candidates on the Democratic side for Milton Mayor: Tom Aber and Edward Nelson. There are two council seats up for grabs in Milton.

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