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Write-in candidate winner of recount

February 07, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

Write-in challenger Frank Stearn was declared the winner in the hotly contested election for supervisor in St. Thomas Township, Pa., beating out incumbent David C. Ramer by 18 votes, according to a ruling issued Friday by a Franklin County judge.

Common Pleas Court Judge Douglas W. Herman ruled that Stearn had 598 votes to 580 for Ramer, who was seeking a second six-year term in the November election.

"Now we can get down to business. Now I can move in an official position," said Stearn, who ran a campaign against a proposed limestone quarry that has drawn opposition from some residents.

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When the county board of elections tabulated the votes last month, Stearn led Ramer 593 to 587. Ramer asked for a recount.

In his opinion Friday, the judge said that out of the total of 1,200 votes cast for either Ramer or Stearn, lawyers for both sides selected 88 for review by the court. Excluding the 88 challenged votes, the recount showed 564 votes for Ramer and 548 for Stearn, the judge's opinion said.

Herman asked the lawyers at a Jan. 23 hearing if they could agree on eliminating some of the 88 contested ballots. They did and left the judge with 48 ballots to consider

In his order Friday, Herman said he came up with 22 no-votes that would not be awarded to either candidate. He ordered all other votes cast in the election to be certified by the elections board.

The two sitting supervisors, Edmund Herald and Tim Sollenberger, appointed Ramer to serve pending the court's decision on the election. The three approved the quarry's subdivision plan during Ramer's interim term, Stearn said.

The regulations require the quarry to hook up to the public sewer system and screen the operation, among other things, Stearn said.

Ramer declined to comment Friday.

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