New Castle News

August 3, 2013

John K. Manna:Limited choices, Many November contests have been decided

John K. Manna
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE —

The November general election is just 94 days away.
I realize few people are thinking about it, but I thought this would be a good time to emphasize that despite what you may have been reading or seeing on TV, Lawrence County voters will not have the opportunity to vote for Anthony Weiner.
Of course, there’s always room on the ballot for a write-in.
Nonetheless, there won’t be much for voters to decide. That’s because most of the choices were made for voters in the May primary.
A few days before the primary, I wrote: “By the time the November election rolls around, many races — particularly for school boards — will have been decided. And some people will bark then that they don’t like any of the choices.”
So that’s where we are. There won’t be many decisions to make unless voters opt to go the write-in route.
Leading the list of decideds are the races for district attorney, sheriff and register and recorder.
The New Castle council race is not decided, although at least one Democrat is certain to be elected to a four-year term. That leaves Republicans with the hope of winning another seat for a four-year term one for a two-year term. But it’s an uphill climb for the GOP in the city because of registration.
If there is any race to bring the voters out in the city, this would be it.
In several townships, supervisor races have been settled.
In many of the county’s boroughs and townships, races have been decided due in large part to the absence of opposition in the primary.
And then there are the races for the county’s eight school boards. While nothing is official until the votes are cast on Nov. 5, it can be said that races in six districts have essentially been decided because of crossfiling.
They include Ellwood City, Laurel, Mohawk, Neshannock, Shenango and Union, each with four candidates to fill four seats.
That leaves New Castle and Wilmington, each with one spot to be determined. Although nothing is certain, the odds of a candidate who was nominated on both ballots losing in the general election are slim.
A possible solution would be to have nonpartisan contests in the primary for all local offices. Contrary to the belief of some state legislators, party politics plays little if any influence in local decision-making. Cronyism sometimes, but not party politics.
Currently, in places where one party dominates, people are reluctant to run because they figure they have no chance. Having nonpartisan primaries would widen the field of candidates and give voters more to choose from.
Instead, there are some legislators, through a bill introduced in the House, who want to go the other way by having school board candidates run on only one ballot in the primary. While it may give voters more choices in November, it would do nothing to eliminate one-party domination.