MERCER — Based on recent history, about one-third of Mercer County’s registered voters will cast ballots today in the municipal general election.
But there’s a little more than usual at stake this time.
In the three elections for county commissioner since 2007, Mercer County voter turnout ranged between 31 and 34 percent. This year’s ballot, however, contains an additional enticement — the opportunity to fill two seats on Mercer County Court of Common Pleas.
Attorneys Ronald Amrhein and Margaret Lucas, and state Rep. Tedd Nesbit, R-8, Grove City, are seeking the two judge seats. Amrhein won Republican and Democratic nominations in the May primary. Lucas finished first for the Democratic nomination, and Nesbit took the remaining Republican nod.
This election will be the first time in at least 16 years that Mercer County voters have had the opportunity to fill two vacancies on Common Pleas Court. The winners in today’s election will replace former President Judge Thomas Dobson and Senior Judge Christopher St. John, both of whom resigned in late 2017.
The Mercer County Bar Association rated Amrhein as “highly qualified,” Lucas as “qualified” and did not rate Nesbit, who was a Mercer County assistant district attorney before his election in 2014 to the state House.
Once elected, common pleas court judges are subject to 10-year retention elections, where they face no opposition in an up-or-down vote to hold their seats. When they reach the mandatory retirement age of 70, they may continue serving on a part-time basis as senior judges.
In the only remaining contested countywide election, Commissioners Matt McConnell, Scott Boyd and Tim McGonigle are running to hold their seats against Dr. Robert Multari. McConnell, board chairman, and Boyd won Republican nominations in the primary, and McGonigle and Multari claimed Democratic nominations.
McConnell is seeking a third term as commissioner, while Boyd and McGonigle are wrapping up their first terms in office. The three winners Tuesday will be elected to four-year terms.
During recent municipal elections when voters select new county commissioners, Mercer County’s turnout has been better than during odd-year votes when commissioners are not on the ballot. Turnout was 33.8 percent in 2015, 33.7 percent in 2011 and 31.2 percent in 2007.
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In 2017, 2013, 2009 and 2005, when commissioners weren’t on the ballot, turnout was 28 percent, 27.9 percent, 19.7 percent and 28.3 percent, respectively.
For other countywide offices, Clerk of Courts candidate Mary Jo Basilone DePreta, Coroner John Libonati, Prothonotary Ruth Bice, Recorder of Deeds Dee Dee Zickar and sheriff candidate Bruce Rosa all face no opposition.
There are 24 contested municipal and school board races in the county (candidates listed in ballot order). All terms are for four years unless otherwise indicated. Each candidate’s party listing does not reflect his or her affiliation, only the party nomination(s) they won the May primary:
• Greenville School Board — Mary Reames (D/R), Richard Rossi (D/R), Richard Powers (D/R), Nathan Gibson (D/R), Dan Eppley (D) and John Forbes (R) running for five seats.
• Grove City School Board — Constance Nichols (D/R), Ryan Thomas (D/R), Michael O’Donovan (D), Roberta Hensel (D), Lee McCracken (D/R), Armondo Sciullo (R) and Douglas Gerwick (R) running for five seats.
• Hermitage School Board — Chris Ruffo (D/R), Staci Perman (D/R), Rob Gelesky (D), Keith Fustos (D/R), Bethany Becker (D/R) and Nichole Hamelly (R) running for five seats.
• Lakeview School Board — Scott Lewis (D/R), Jimmy Lee Arbogast (D/R), Steven Beggs (D/R), David Pears (D/R), Gage Bartholomew (D/R) and Chuck Greggs (Independent) running for five seats.
• Sharpsville School Board — Nicholas Hanahan (D/R), Deanna Thomas (D/R), William Henwood (D), Darla Grandy (D/R), Joseph Michael Toth (D/R) and Jerry Trontel (R) running for five seats.
• Clark Borough Council — Clark Eberhardt (D), Douglas Robbins (D), Michael Yeatts (D/R) and Cameron McConahy (R) running for three seats.
• Coolspring Township supervisor (one six-year term) — Richard Filer (D) and Dale Bestwick (R).
• Delaware Township supervisors (one six-year term) — John Lesnett (D) and Daniel Nagel (R).
• Farrell mayor — Kimberly Doss (D), Olive McKeithan (D, declared write-in)
• French Creek Township supervisors (one six-year term) — John Slemenda Jr. (D) and Jacob Karns (R).
• Greenville Borough Council — Jean Carr (D), Anne Butcher (D), Tracy Beil (D/R), Paul Hamill (R), Sean Hall (R) running for three seats.
• Greenville Borough Council (one two-year term) — Jessica Lynn Grinnell (D) and Tracy Beil (R).
• Greenville Home Rule Charter – To approve the proposed charter, yes or no.
• Grove City Council, 4th District — Willie Caldwell (D) and Jeffrey Hodge (R) running for one seat.
• Hermitage city commissioners — Duane Piccirilli (D), William Moder (D) and Michael Muha (D). Three seats: The top two finishers will win four-year terms and the remaining candidate will serve a two-year term.
• Jefferson Township supervisors (one six-year term) — Garth Faulkner (D) and Richard McCullough (R).
• Pymatuning Township supervisors (one six-year term) — John Miller (D) and James Rowe (R).
• South Pymatuning Township supervisors (one six-year term) — Laurel Alexander (D) and Matthew Chalupka (R).
• South Pymatuning Township supervisors (one two-year term) — Laurel Alexander (D) and Matthew Chalupka (R).
• Springfield Township supervisors (one six-year term) — Rick Dillaman (D) and Joseph Mattace (R).
• Sugar Grove Township supervisors (one six-year term) — Timothy Kaltenbaugh (D) and Gordon Riley (R).
• West Middlesex Borough Council — Robert Lark (D), Maleia James (D/R) and Eric Lucich (R) running for two seats.
This article has been edited to clarify that Mercer County Common Pleas Judge candidate Margaret Lucas finished first in the Democratic primary.