After apparently losing last month’s primary election, two Donegal Township supervisors – and a third supervisor who barely won her party’s nomination – are suing their two colleagues and the municipality in a last-ditch attempt to cancel its general election in November.
Two days after losing the Republican nominations to three write-in candidates, Richard Martin and Richard Fidler amended an earlier lawsuit that claimed they could be denied fulfilling their original terms in office after the township’s voters decided last November to downsize the board from five supervisors to three.
Tammi Iams, who barely won the third and final nomination in the Democratic primary, is also included in the lawsuit against fellow supervisors Edward Shingle Jr. and Kathleen Croft.
An earlier lawsuit Martin, Fidler and Iams filed against the two other supervisors, along with the municipality and Washington County Board of Elections, demanded the Donegal Township supervisors race be removed from the May 18 primary, or the results not be counted. Washington County Judge Michael Lucas denied their request, and the Commonwealth Court upheld his ruling five days before the election.
The new lawsuit asks that Filder, Martin and Shingle be permitted to continue in their roles as supervisors until their terms expire, which is slated to happen in 2024 for Martin and Shingle and 2026 for Fidler. The terms for Iams and Croft are scheduled to end this coming January.
Randy Polan, James Bauer and Shingle successfully mounted write-in campaigns in the Republican primary, easily beating Fidler and Martin, both of whom were candidates on the ballot. Polan, Croft and Iams won the nominations in the Democratic primary, meaning Fidler and Martin will not appear on the ballot in the Nov. 2 general election. Fidler and Martin would need a groundswell of write-in votes to possibly win their seats back.
Reached for comment Wednesday afternoon, Croft said she was “appalled” by the string of lawsuits from her fellow supervisors trying to overturn the election.
“I think it’s a slap in the face for the people of Donegal Township who voted for the referendum,” Croft said of the November vote to downsize the board.
She added that the vast number of write-in votes during last month’s primary showed that residents in the township still backed that decision and want the board to head in a different direction.
“The people of Donegal knew what they were voting for and spoke overwhelmingly,” Croft said.
Thomas King III, the Butler-based attorney representing the plaintiffs, did not respond to a phone message seeking comment Wednesday.
The board of elections is scheduled to certify the primary election results this Monday and send them to the Pennsylvania Department of State. Arguments before Lucas on the amended lawsuit are scheduled to be heard at 9:30 a.m. June 22.
Donegal’s primary election has been rife with political shenanigans since voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum last November to downsize the board of supervisors, just four years after the board was expanded. The referendum placed all three supervisor seats on the ballot this year, regardless of whether some members still had time left on their terms.
Dave Ealy, Douglas Teagarden, Kathleen Miller and Mike Smith challenged numerous nominating petitions in March, prompting four people running for township supervisor to get booted from the Republican primary ballot. Polan, Shingle, Bauer and Thomas were removed, while Croft was permitted to stay on the ballot since she was running as a Democrat and the challengers were registered Republicans.