Nothing is certain when it comes to elections, except when it comes to school board races.

Almost certain, anyway.

Technically, candidates are elected in November, but many races for school board in Pennsylvania are essentially decided in the spring. That's because school board candidates may crossfile in primaries, meaning they can run on both Democratic and Republican ballots.

As a result, races in two of Lawrence County's eight districts -- Laurel and New Castle -- were wrapped up in May because all the primary winners were victorious on both ballots.

In the remaining six, three candidates in each district won on both ballots. It left one position in each district for voters to decide in last week's general election.

And even the outcome of those races was somewhat predictable because of party registration.

In Ellwood City, the battle for the fourth spot was between Anthony Buzzelli, the Democratic nominee, and Gary Rozanski, the Republican candidate. The district has a Democratic registration advantage. Buzzelli ended up winning by more than 400 votes.

The outcomes in the other five districts followed the same pattern.

Ruth Herman, the Democratic nominee, and Raymond Vogel, the Republican candidate, vied for the fourth spot in the Mohawk district. Democrats hold the advantage there, and Herman won by more than 100 votes.

In Shenango, Democrats outnumber Republicans. J. Gary Senko, the Democratic candidate, defeated Robert Davis, the Republican nominee, by more than 100 votes.

Voters in the Union district, which is heavily Democratic, elected Carmen Merolillo, the party's nominee, over David Salmen, the Republican candidate, by more than 300 votes.

The two districts with Republican advantages elected GOP candidates.

William Pitman won the fourth position in the Wilmington district by more than 100 votes over Kimberlee Christofferson.

James Kearney Jr. defeated fellow school board member Frank Rondinelli by nearly 300 votes in Neshannock Township. It must be noted that Republicans outnumber Democrats in Neshannock by only 234 voters. Also, although Rondinelli won the Democratic nomination, he is a registered Republican.

Incumbents have records that can cause problems when it comes to re-election. So, it could be argued it was more than Democrat vs. Republican in Neshannock Township and other districts where incumbents were on the ballot.

Crossfiling was instituted to eliminate political party influence on school boards. While the parties themselves may have little or no influence anymore, last week's election shows that party labels still mean something in November.

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