Hearing set on election petition challenge

March 20, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The nominating petition of one of the three Republican candidates running for the 90th District seat in the state House of Representatives will be formally challenged in a hearing Tuesday in Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg, Pa.

The hearing will review a petition challenging the validity of the majority of the 349 signatures on the petitions Ronald E. Eberly of Greencastle, Pa., submitted earlier this month to the state Bureau of Elections.

To appear as a candidate for the state House of Representatives on the May 16 primary ballot, a candidate is required to have 300 valid signatures, according to state election statutes.

The challenging petition, filed by John E. Pace Sr. of Chambersburg, Pa., states the nominating petitions are invalid because many of the signatures "contain various inadequacies and deficiencies."


"Appears information altered by another hand" is listed dozens of times on an exhibit filed with the petition which lists the asserted deficiencies to the challenged signatures. The petition also asserts that some of those who signed the petitions were not registered, wrote in incorrect addresses, wrote in incorrect dates or otherwise failed to properly fill out the petition.

"I believe Mr. Eberly did not truly obtain the required number of legitimate signatures. The court is obviously the proper institution to resolve this issue," Pace said in a prepared statement.

"There are more issues facing the 90th District than a bunch of people fighting over who is going to be on the ballot," Eberly said Sunday.

"I have spent days with my fellow Republican citizens sitting in their living rooms, talking with them on their front porch and at their front doors, discussing the issues that matter most to them. All of the signatures on my nomination petition are a direct result of those efforts and the efforts of others on my behalf and in no way have they been altered or fabricated," Eberly said in his own prepared statement.

Pace confirmed he circulated nominating petitions for Todd Rock of Mont Alto, Pa., but said he filed the challenge "as a private citizen."

"I can't comment to what Mr. Pace is doing, but he's not an associate of mine," Rock said.

Rock and Eberly have created the most heavily contested race that incumbent Patrick E. Fleagle has faced in his 18 years since first being elected.

Eberly, in his statement, said that "Mr. Rock and his associates continue to harass several of my friends, neighbors, colleagues and family members insisting they did not sign my petition. Many of the people who signed my petition were then approached by one of Mr. Rock's 'associates' and insisted they sign an affidavit stating their signature on the petition was not theirs."

"(Eberly) for whatever reason keeps trying to bring my name into it, and I don't know why," Rock said.

"(One) of Mr. Rock's associates showed up at the door of my daughter in-law posing as a friend of mine and harassed her to tears for simply helping my petition efforts," Eberly said.

"When he refers to these people as my associates, that's an incorrect statement," Rock said.

Rock said anyone who is a "serious candidate" knows to turn in at least double the number of required signatures.

"If you want to be a candidate for state representative, you have to at least do this part correctly," Rock said. "I think there's 80 other people across the state that have had their petitions questioned."

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