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Newcomer gets most votes

March 04, 2003|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

Voters picked two challengers and one incumbent in Monday's Williamsport Town Council election, ousting two other incumbents.

Monty R. Jones, a political newcomer, was a runaway victor in the field of seven, receiving 216 votes, according to complete but unofficial results.

Fellow challenger Earle R. Pereschuk Sr. was second with 184 votes. Councilwoman Gloria J. Bitner received 95 votes.

All three earned council seats.

Incumbents Timothy B. Ammons and James C. Kalbfleisch lost their bids for re-election.

At about 7:45 p.m., C. Lee Butts Jr., chairman of the election supervisors, announced that Jones had the most votes.

Jones laughed quickly. Then, he put his head down and wept.

"I just want to make a difference for the town ..." Jones, 39, said later during an interview on his cell phone. "It's a powerful responsibility when the community votes you number one."

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He said he was humbled by the results.

"I'm headed to church to thank God for my win," he said. "Then, I'll go home to share this with my kids and my wife. I'll pray to keep my eyes open and not get prideful."

Pereschuk, 50, served on the town council for six years. He resigned in 2001 to run for mayor, but lost to John W. Slayman, the incumbent.

Pereschuk wasn't planning to seek office again this year, but on Feb. 13, the night before the filing deadline, people called him and asked him to run, he said.

"I will represent the citizens of Williamsport," he said Monday night. "It's their town."

Bitner, 57, who is in her 11th year on the council, said she was both relieved to win and sad that two incumbents lost.

She wouldn't guess at why voters chose who they did.

Bitner and Slayman stopped at Byers Market - which Jones owns - to pick up several two-liter bottles of soda before heading to Slayman's house to celebrate.

Ammons, 26, a councilman for two years, finished fourth with 90 votes.

James T. Jewell, 61, another first-time candidate, was fifth. He had 89 votes.

Kalbfleisch, 57, a councilman the last eight years, finished sixth with 76 votes.

S. Regina Yohe, 62, who was also running for the first time, received 43 votes.

Ammons, Bitner and Kalbfleisch ran on the Independent Progressive ticket. The challengers ran as independents.

Butts said 285 people voted in person at Town Hall and two others cast absentee ballots.

May E. Stumbaugh, another election supervisor, said there are about 1,400 registered voters in Williamsport, which would put the turnout at about 20 percent.

It's up to the town council to certify the results, Butts said.

Council members serve four years and are paid $2,500 apiece per year, according to last year's budget.

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