New Castle News

Closer Look

November 2, 2013

John K. Manna: Voters must make choices in ‘off-year’ contests

NEW CASTLE — I don’t know who coined the phrase “off-year election.”

The implication is that it’s not as important as presidential, gubernatorial and congressional elections.

But the so-called off-year elections — and Tuesday is one of them — is when the voters elect people to county and municipal offices and school boards. Unlike candidates for state and national offices, these successful off-year candidates will have more direct influence on people’s lives.

Tuesday’s election in Lawrence County has a short ballot, relatively speaking. But the length of the ballot doesn’t make the election any less significant or important.

Countywide, voters will elect a district attorney, sheriff and register and recorder. The three candidates for those posts, all incumbents, are unopposed, having won both Republican and Democratic nominations in the May primary.

The same is true for most of the county’s school board races. Four candidates will be elected in each of the eight school districts. However, races for six boards have essentially been decided because four candidates won both party nominations in each of those districts.

Anything is possible, but the odds of candidates nominated on both ballots losing in a general election are pretty slim.

That leaves New Castle and Wilmington where one seat apiece is to be determined.

The New Castle city council race is a different story and presents an unusual twist for voters. Three candidates will be elected, two to four-year terms and one to a two-year term.

Two Democrats, Tim Fulkerson and Anthony Adamo, and Republican Rosemary Henderson are running for the four-year terms. Republican William Schafer and Adamo are seeking the two-year term.

The unusual twist obviously is Adamo seeking two different terms. For the record, two other candidates — council members MaryAnne Gavrile and Thomas Smith — ran for both the four- and two-year terms in the primary. If either one had won the Democratic nomination for the two-year term, Tuesday’s ballot would obviously look different.

So, the city faces the possibility of Adamo winning both seats. If he does, he will have to select one of them by January. Then, he and three other council members would appoint someone to fill the vacancy.

It could be a moot point if Schafer wins. Schafer, by the way, said he ran for the two-year post because he thought he would have a better chance of winning it.

The decision rests with the voters — to fill the spot on Tuesday or have council fill it in January.

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