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Where Have All of the Candidates Gone?

Thursday, February 25, 2021 @ 12:02 AM

Posted by Ron Wilshire

Cindy-CallihanCLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Spring is near (hopefully), and with it, brings the primary elections in Clarion, Pa.

(ARCHIVE PHOTO: Cindy Callahan, Clarion County Director of Elections.)

The election is scheduled for May 18th, and the deadline for filing for the ballot is March 10; however, the Director of Elections Cindy Callahan reported this week that the number of filed petitions has dropped from previous years.

“Usually, there is a lot of activity with people picking up petitions for local elections as we have in the past, and I’m afraid that at the end of this, we’re going to be swamped with petitions,” said Callahan. “I’m hoping that the news media can help us get the word out that we need people to run for these offices.”

Election offices at 330 Main Street are open for candidates to pick up petitions and file for the election, according to Callahan. The office is also sending packets out in the mail for those who have sent letters to townships, boroughs, and school districts and do not want to come in to the building.

Poll worker positions are also up for election.

“I don’t know if the decline is due to COVID, or if there’s just not an interest – not sure where we’re going with that. Some terms were expiring last year, and it was such a big election. I think it’s all calmed down, and people aren’t really thinking about the election right now. There is a municipal election going to take place on May 18th, and March 10 is the last day to file petitions. Maybe we can get more people in here to run for these offices. And again, we might get swamped at the last minute, you know, people have picked up packets.”

Democrats and Republicans are having events for people to pick up petitions and seek signatures, and that may generate some interest there.

Commissioner Ed Heasley also questioned why there were so few people running for county positions.

“I’m surprised there aren’t more candidates at our local level for these county jobs,” said Heasley. “The county coroner pays $30,800.00 per year for a part-time position. The sheriff is $57,000.00 a year and treasurer is $58,600.00 with benefits and a pension for the two positions.”

When an official primary ballot does not list a candidate for the position, it also attracts write-ins, especially for the local positions with the boroughs or townships. In that case, according to Callahan, the successful candidate write-in has to have at least 10 write-in votes to qualify for placement on the fall ballot. A write-in candidate also has to authorize his/or her name for the ballot.

The election office is still busy with the change in voting laws from last year and has no idea what new rules may be coming down the road.

ACT 77 stipulated that the county needed to mail notices to the voters from the 2020 election and applied for an annual ballot. About 3,500 pieces of mail were sent from the Clarion election office.

“This is taking priority over everything, and normally by the end of March, we start entering absentee and mail-in applications into our system,” said Callahan. “However, the state tells us to enter early if deemed essential. We’re over a thousand applications that have been returned to the office so far.”

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