Dennis Lyons

Judging by all the national news coverage it’s already been getting, I know it may seem like we’re already deep into the 2020 presidential election.

In reality, that election is still a year and a half away.

What matters now is the May 21 Pennsylvania primary, which this year is accompanied by a special election for Tom Marino’s vacated 12th Congressional District seat between Republican Fred Keller and Democrat Marc Friedenberg.

Besides the 12th race, there are local primary elections for county commissioners in Northumberland, Union, Snyder and Montour counties, for city council seats in Sunbury, for school board members all over the Valley and for tax collectors, controllers, auditors, etc. depending on which county you live.

One of the most important things a community news operation like ours can do is help prepare voters for upcoming elections. And so, beginning today and carrying through May 21, we will be publishing everything you need to know before you head to the voting booth.

The complete list of who is running for what where appears today in both The Daily Item print edition and on our web page.

We have already posted video interviews with both Keller and Friedenberg on dailyitem.com. Starting with Northumberland County on Monday, we will post video interviews with each of the 29 candidates for county commissioner in each of our four counties.

We will also be posting video interviews with the five Sunbury city council candidates — four Republicans and one Democrat — with two spots up for grabs in November. Throughout the coming weeks, we will have stories about a wide range of the candidates you’ll have to choose from across the Valley.

Daily Item political reporter Rick Dandes sets the stage for the primary in his story today on our front page. We’re also running a schedule of what stories to expect when between now and May 21.

There’s an additional story today about an anomaly in this year’s primary. Because of the special election, there will be reason for voters without registered party affiliation to show up at the polls.

Usually on primary day, under a Pennsylvania law I’d like to see changed, you have to be registered with either the Democratic or Republican parties in order to vote. The special election changes that slightly this year. While independent voters still won’t be able to cast ballots in the primary, they will be given a single race ballot on which to vote for the 12th congressional seat.

Other everyone can vote oddities exist. in Union County’s Union Township. The township does not currently allow alcohol to be sold or served within its borders. All registered voters will get the chance to decide whether or not they want to change that. In Shamokin, residents will decide if they want to create a commission to explore creating Home Rule Charter, which would allow the city to exit financially distressed Act 47 status, but continue to use some of the benefits the status grants.

While presidential elections may get all the high profile coverage from national media sources, votes cast in the local May primary and the general election this coming November can actually have a lot more to do with day to day life in the Valley.

They’ll certainly have more to do with your local taxes.

We’re going to give you all you need to make informed choices throughout this local election cycle. We urge you to take advantage of that and make sure to vote both in May and November.

Email comments to dlyons@dailyitem.com.

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