MERCER — With only minutes before the 4:30 p.m. deadline Tuesday, first-time political candidate Gage Bartholomew ran into a surprise that could have doomed his political campaign.
As he filed his completed petition packet, Mercer County Voter Registration and Elections Director Jeff Greenburg informed Bartholomew that he needed to file his ethics form – a document that discloses information including the candidate’s sources of income – with the school by the end of the day.
Bartholomew, 18, could be excused for the oversight. A candidate for Lakeview School Board, he’s still a student at the high school.
He filed his petition and rushed out of the courthouse to Lakeview’s district offices.
The high school senior beat Tuesday’s deadline.
“We got it all filled out and took it to the school,” he said. Bartholomew said his status as a student gives him a perspective that the current school board lacks.
“I see everything daily,” he said. “I see what happens during school, and I see what happens after school.”
Bartholomew is among six Republican candidates for five seats in the Lakeview School Board primary. He and Clarissa T. Amon filed only for Republican nominations, according to an unofficial candidate list released Wednesday by the county election department.
The list will become official March 19 after a seven-day window to contest candidate petitions.
Because school director is a non-partisan position, candidates can cross-file for both party nominations in the May 21 primary. Jimmy Lee Arbogast, Steven L. Beggs, Scott Lewis and David Pears filed as Democrats and Republicans. Arbogast and Amon are incumbent school board members.
School board races, especially in Grove City and Sharpsville, are offering the most competitive contests in the primary.
In Grove City Area School District, seven candidates are seeking five Democratic nominations and nine people are running for five Republican nominations.
Douglas B. Gerwick, Lee McCracken, Ryan Thomas, and incumbents Roberta Hensel, Michael S. O’Donovan, Carolyn Oppenheimer and school board President Constance Nichols have cross-filed as Democrats and Republicans. Julie Swartfager and incumbent Armando Sciullo filed for the Republican ballot only.
Nine candidates are running for nominations in both parties for Sharpsville Area School Board. Incumbent William J. Henwood is on the Democratic ballot only, and Eric Gaus is running only as a Republican.
Nicholas D. Hanahan, Alison Hanneman, Jeffery T. Steiner, Joseph Michael Toth, Charles R. Wallace, and incumbents Darla Grandy, Deanna Thomas and Jerry Trontel are cross-filed in both parties.
Six Democrats and five Republicans are running for five Democratic nominations to Hermitage School Board. Rob Gelesky filed only as a Democrat, while Bethany Becker, Nichole C. Hamelly, Staci Perman, and incumbents Keith Fustos and board Vice President Chris Ruffo have cross-filed.
In Sharon, five candidates – Deborah Roberson, and incumbents Melvin Bandzak, Brian Faber, Sonja M. Heard and Judy Mensurati-Rogers – are seeking five Democratic nominations. There are no Republican candidates.
With Sharon City Council member Frank Connelly prohibited by the city charter’s term limits from seeking re-election, there already will be at least one new member of the panel. But that shakeup could be even larger, with a race that features five Democrats campaigning for three nominations.
Sharronda Faber, Carl Aaron Sizer and Christopher A. Ford, and incumbents Molly Corbett Bundrant and Courtney Anderson Saylor have filed for the primary ballot.
Farrell residents face contested races both for mayor and council.
Olive McKeithan is seeking a fourth term as the city’s mayor, against Councilwoman Kimberly Doss and Steelworkers Union official Andrew Harkulich. All three are running for the Democratic nomination in a race with no Republican candidates.
Incumbent Councilman Dan Dragicevic is running for re-election, with Terrence L. Crumby, Michelle Wilder Sparrow and Albert Rock also on the ballot. The four are running for two Democratic nominations. No Republican candidates are listed.
Dragicevic also is running in an uncontested race for Farrell School Board, where five candidates – all Democrats – are seeking five nominations. The remaining candidates, all incumbents, are Charles Branca, Allen Harrison, Gary Satterwhite and school board President Terry Harrison.
If Dragicevic wins both elections, he will have to choose which office he wants to accept because Pennsylvania’s School Code prohibits officials serving on school boards and city councils at the same time.
Four candidates are running for three seats on Hermitage City Commission. Michael Muha, Duane Piccirilli and commission President William Moder are all running for re-election, with Lucy Nicastro hoping to displace one of the existing commissioners. All are running as Democrats; no Republicans filed petitions.
Jackson Township has two Republicans — Incumbent Richard Baun and Eugene K. Swartz – seeking one nomination for township supervisor in a race with no Democratic entrants.
In South Pymatuning Township, which disbanded its police department earlier this year, five candidates are seeking election for a single six-year-term on the township board of supervisors. Three Democrats – Laurel Alexander, Chuck Vranich and incumbent Supervisor and Secretary-Treasurer Rose Lyons – are running, as are Republicans Matthew Chalupka and Amber Love.
South Pymatuning Township also has a two-year term up this year. Alexander, Vranich and Lyons are on the Democratic ballot, and Chalupka is alone on the Republican side.
Joseph Mattace and incumbent Rick Dillaman are seeking one Democratic nomination for supervisor in Springfield Township. No Republicans filed for the office.
In addition to the candidate races, residents of Fairview Township, Lake Township, New Vernon Township and Sheakleyville will vote on referendums to approve small games of chance in their municipalities.
Mercer County will draw lots for ballot positions at 9 a.m. March 19 in the courthouse assembly room. Candidates do not need to be present for the drawing of lots.
THE FULL LIST of candidates is available online at the county election department’s “Election information” page, www.mcc.co.mercer.pa.us/election/ElectionGuides/2019.UMOVA.Primary.Notice.pdf.
NOTE: This article has been edited to correct the party affiliation for Hermitage School Board candidate Rob Gelesky.