By Sandy Scarmack
Herald Staff Writer
MERCER COUNTY —
Tuesday marks the kickoff for candidates to start gathering support for seats on local school boards, city councils or township positions, but not a minute earlier, warned Jeff Greenburg, the county’s director of elections.
“If anyone plans to spend the weekend gathering signatures, it won’t be valid,” he said. Candidates may begin getting signatures Feb. 19.
Up for election this year are two judge retentions on the state Supreme Court, one judicial vacancy and two retentions on the Superior Court, plus the Mercer County controller, treasurer and jury commissioners, according to Greenburg.
There’s also a county judicial vacancy created when Judge John C. Reed retired, a retention bid by Judge Christopher St. John and a magisterial judge position, Greenburg said.
In addition, positions for mayors, township supervisors, council members and school directors will be on the ballot, along with a judge of elections and an inspector of elections for each precinct.
Petition packets are available at the courthouse in the elections office and will include everything a candidate needs to begin the process of seeking a seat, Greenburg said. Perhaps more importantly, he added, is the verbal instruction available from the office staff.
“A lot of time people come up and pick up packets for themselves and maybe five other people. Those other people are missing out on a great resource, because we go over the packet and help people avoid common errors that can sometimes lead to a petition being rejected,” he said.
The packet also contains information on campaign finances, deadlines, all necessary forms and a list of registered voters in each candidate’s home area. There is no cost for the packets, he said.
Filing fees are $100 for county offices, except the magisterial judge, whose fee is $50. Candidates for judge need 250 signatures and most generally cross-file on both Democratic and Republican tickets. The other county offices require 100 signatures.
Candidates for mayor, city commissioners, treasurers, and council in Sharon, Farrell and Hermitage have a $25 filing fee and need 100 signatures.
There are no filing fees for school directors, Greenburg said. And while school directors can cross-file, it’s important to note that they cannot carry the petitions seeking signatures for both Democratic and Republican support. They may carry their own party’s petition, but must ask someone of the other party to carry and collect signatures. The circulator will sign an affadavit verifying party affiliation, Greenburg said. School directors in Sharon, Farrell and Hermitage need 100 signatures on each petition to cross-file. School directors in townships and boroughs need 10 signatures on each, Greenburg said.
There are no filing fees for borough or township officials, other than for constable, which has a $10 filing fee. They need 10 signatures. Election officials have no filing fees.
Greenburg said his office put together about 550 packets.