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Orrstown is the Pa. town nobody wants to run

November 03, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Finding people to run for political office can be difficult, but in Orrstown, Pa., it has proven to be nearly impossible in recent years.

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The tiny borough nine miles north of Chambersburg has five incumbent councilmen - Jeryl S. George, Larry Lynch, Michael J. Ervin Jr., Gaye Somers and Larry Washinger - but none of them were on the ballot for re-election Tuesday.

The Election Board proclamation said there were no candidates for a pair of two-year council seats, and none for three four-year council seats.

Who will serve on the board in 2000 is unclear at this point. Nora Gehres, the election inspector for the borough, said Lynch got three write-in votes and Ervin two for the two-year seats, with three other people getting one vote each.

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Somers got three votes for a four-year seat and six others got a single vote, Gehres said.

Ervin, who was appointed by a vacancy committee before being elected by write-ins two years ago, said the borough attorney will have to sort out the results.

He said he'd serve another term, "If they can talk me into it."

A lack of candidates is not new to Orrstown. About four years ago, Franklin County President Judge John R. Walker appointed a council after no candidates ran for election, Ervin said.

Thirty-seven of the 112 registered voters in the borough cast ballots Tuesday, according to unofficial election results.

When asked Wednesday if he would serve another term, Councilman Larry Lynch said, "I'll cross that bridge when I come to it."

Lynch, who was elected by write-in votes in 1997, said he's retired.

"I want the time to do the things I want to do," he said, but "I wouldn't leave the borough in the lurch."

"It's time consuming and it's kind of a thankless job," Lynch said.

While he said he's "not really looking for thanks," the job of a council member doesn't pay any money and involves more than attending monthly meetings.

One of Pennsylvania's smallest boroughs, Orrstown still requires "a lot of research," budget hearings and other meetings, Lynch said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the borough had a population of 227 in 1992, down from 318 in 1960.

In Greencastle, Pa., there were candidates for all three four-year seats on the council that were open in Tuesday's election. No one, however, filed for the open two-year seat occupied by Don A. Coldsmith, who ran for one of the four-year seats Tuesday.

The unofficial write-in figures didn't do anything to clear up the situation. According to John Craig, the judge of elections for Greencastle's First Precinct, eight different people received one vote each for the seat.

Martha Bricker, an election inspector for the Second Precinct, said five people each got one vote.

More than 400 of the 2,094 registered voters in the borough cast ballots Tuesday.

In Warren Township, where 29 people voted Tuesday, incumbent Supervisor Harry Keefer was not on the ballot for re-election to a six-year term, but he received eight write-in votes, more than anyone else. Four others in the township of 167 registered voters each received one write-in vote, according to Election Inspector John Hawley.

In Mercersburg , two candidates were on the ballot for three four-year seats on the Borough Council. Although his name was not on the ballot, incumbent Thomas A. Suddeth received 35 votes to be re-elected, said borough Election Inspector Gertrude Zeger.

Zeger said about two dozen people received write-in votes in that race.

The Franklin County Election Board will begin the official count, including write-in ballots, Friday.

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