election day preview

Barbara S. Miller/Observer-Reporter

This patriotic Whiskey Rebellion flag is on display at Countryside Frame Shop, East Wheeling Street, near the Citizens Library polling place in Washington.

Melanie Ostrander, Washington County director of elections, predicts more than 30% of registered voters will actually cast ballots today.

In 2015, the last time county commissioners and a majority of the county row offices were chosen, turnout was 29.22% with 997 absentee ballots returned to the elections office with votes cast.

“I think we’re going to go past that,” Ostrander said, basing his prediction on this year’s number of absentee ballots.

This year, Washington County residents requested 1,516 absentee ballots and by mid-day Friday, as the deadline loomed, 1,210 had been returned.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Changes in some Washington County polling places have been made within five municipalities: Amwell, Cecil, Donegal and North and South Strabane townships.

Not every one in these areas will be going to a new poll, but the elections office mailed the information to voters along with new voter registration cards.

Washington County now has 180 voting precincts.

On the Washington County ballot, Traci McDonald Kemp is running unopposed for a 10-year term as Common Pleas Court judge. Appointed by Gov. Tom Wolf after she won both the Democratic and Republican nominations in the May primary, the oath of office McDonald Kemp took in August lasts through the end of this year.

Coroner S. Timothy Warco is also running unopposed with both major-party nominations.

Also on the ballot are incumbent Democratic county commissioners Larry Maggi and Harlan Shober, Republican incumbent Diana Irey Vaughan and Republican newcomer Nick Sherman. Voters get to choose not more than two, and three will be seated on the board of commissioners in January.

Making his first run for a four-year term as Washington County district attorney is Democrat Jake Mihalov, who is challenging incumbent Republican Gene Vittone.

There are open seats in two row offices because of retirements. Vying for election as register of wills are Democrat Suzanne Archer and Republican James Roman and making bids for county treasurer are Democrat Lisa F. Carpenter and Republican Tom Flickinger.

Incumbent Clerk of Courts Frank Scandale, a Democrat, faces Republican Brenda Davis, while incumbent Democrat Joy Schury Ranko is running against Republican Laura Hough for prothonotary.

Voters will also see a variety of candidates for township supervisor and local office; city and borough mayor and council; home-rule township council; in first-class townships, local commissioner; and school board.

There is one contest among Washington County magisterial district judge candidates, Republican Jimmy Saieva and Democrat Chuckie Tenny. District Judge David Mark is retiring from the Canonsburg-based office, but he has offered to continue to fill in as a senior magisterial district judge.

Greene County

Tina Kiger, Greene County elections director, said of turnout, “I’m going with 40 to 50% because of the contested races we have. It depends on what the weather will be.

“I’m only going with that because our primary turnout was probably higher than we thought it would be.”

There have been no changes in Greene County’s 42 polling places since the May primary when Dunkard Township’s four voting precincts were consolidated into two locations: Shannopin Civic Club, 777 Larimer Ave., Bobtown, and Mt. Pleasant Methodist Church, 292 Mt. Pleasant Road, Dilliner.

The contested races in Greene County include commissioner, district attorney, and although there is only one candidate on the ballot for sheriff, a write-in candidate is also running.

There will be a new commissioner seated in January because Republican incumbent Archie Trader finished third in the May 21 primary behind Betsy Rohanna McClure and Mike Belding.

Democratic incumbents seeking re-election as county commissioner are Blair Zimmerman and Dave Coder.

District Attorney Marjorie Fox chose not to seek a fifth, four-year term. Jessica L. Phillips, the Democratic nominee, is facing Republican David J. Russo, and there’s a chance a write-in candidate could affect the outcome. Former assistant district attorney Patrick Fitch, who lost in the Democratic primary to Phillips, is waging the write-in bid.

The death of Sheriff Brian Tennant occurred midway through his second four-year term.

Kiger sent letters to each of Greene’s major-party chairmen notifying them of the opportunity to select a candidate to run for the remainder of Tennant’s term.

“The Republicans did not submit a name,” Kiger said, but Democrats chose incumbent Marcus Simms, former deputy sheriff and Waynesburg Borough police officer, to appear on the general election ballot.

A Republican write-in candidate, Charlie Jones, 49, of Morgan Township, emerged for that slot, according to signs posted around the county and his Facebook page.

Jones, who has operated a recovery truck driving business for the past 13 years, said he regularly deals with law enforcement officials in his line of work.

On the remainder of the countywide offices in Greene, voters will be seeing the names of many more who are running unopposed: clerk of courts, Sherry L. Wise; treasurer, Cory L. Grandel; controller, Ami Cree; register and recorder, Donna J. Tharp; and prothonotary, Susan Kartley.

District Judge Lee Watson garnered both the Republican and Democratic nominations for a six-year term in the Carmichaels-based magisterial office.

In addition to Washington and Greene counties’ websites, results will be posted on electionreturns.pa.gov as the Department of State in Harrisburg receives reports from the counties after the polls close at 8 p.m. on election day. Until then, the site will only show test results.

A proposed constitutional amendment on crime victims’ rights, known as Marsy’s Law, also will be on the ballot. Despite a recent ruling that the ballot question results not be immediately certified, voters can still cast their vote on the question, as the courts could later allow the results to be certified.

For complete information about voting in Pennsylvania, visit votesPA.com or call the Department of State’s official election hotline at 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772).

There is a statewide contest for judge of the Superior Court. Democrats are Amanda Gree-Hawkins and Daniel D. McCaffery. Republicans are Megan McCarthy King and Christylee Peck.

Voters will also be asked to weigh in on whether to retain Superior Court judges Anne E. Lazarus and Judy Olson and Commonwealth Court judges Kevin Brobson and Patricia A. McCullough.

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