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Polls open at 7

light turnout likely for Pa. general election

November 06, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The polls in Franklin County's 74 precincts open at 7 this morning for the general election in which the county's 83,930 registered voters will have the opportunity to select a new board of county commissioners, a mayor in Chambersburg and decide borough council, township supervisor and school board races.

How many of those voters will cast ballots is one question that will be answered today. During the last similar election, in 2003, turnout was 20,824, at that time just 28 percent of voters. However, that election featured three incumbent commissioners running for re-election.

This time around, Commissioners G. Warren Elliott and Cheryl Plummer are not in the race and the board will have at least two new members after polls close at 8 p.m. A better comparison might be the 1995 election when one incumbent, Cheryl Plummer, was running.

Though there were 20,000 fewer voters registered then - 74,727 in 2003 to 54,638 in 1995 - turnout was 24,119, or 44 percent of registered voters.

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Today, voters will be allowed to vote for two of the four candidates - Republicans Bob Thomas and David S. Keller and Democrats Bob Ziobrowski and Cheryl Stearn. The top three vote-getters will be sworn in as the board in January.

The county Election Board has been stressing that voters can vote for only two commissioner candidates. If a person votes for more than two, the ballot tabulating machines at the polls will give off an audio signal.

The voter can press the "Accept" button, in which case none of those votes will be counted, or hit "Return" and ask for another ballot to vote correctly.

"Thomas, Keller and Ziobrowski," Tim Sponseller, a Republican and Chambersburg attorney, said when asked his prediction on the outcome of the commissioners race. "The Republicans will win easily."

Attorney Ed Steckel, a Democrat, agreed on the likely outcome, but said the Democratic seat could just as easily go to Stearn. "I think Bob (Ziobrowski) and Cheryl are both good," he said.

Republicans ought to have an edge in a countywide race with 48,986 registered voters, twice as many as the Democrats. Several people asked about the race said the Republican candidates should win with the outcome for the third seat on the board being a coin toss between Stearn and Ziobrowski, while others said the women's vote will decide that race.

The two attorneys were less sure in handicapping the Chambersburg mayoral race. Franklin County Sheriff Robert Wollyung, a Republican, and Democrat Peter Lagiovane are running for the post left vacant by the death in May of Mayor John Redding.

"It should be close. I think Wollyung's going to win by a hair," Sponseller said.

Having spent a decade on the bench, Judge Richard J. Walsh of the 39th Court of Common Pleas is running for retention for another 10 years. The retention ballot, which includes judges on the Pennsylvania Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth courts, is separate from the municipal election ballot.

There are just a handful of races among the dozens of offices up for election in the 15 townships and seven boroughs of the county. It is often a problem coming up with candidates, as in Mont Alto, where no candidate filed for mayor or a two-year council seat and one person filed for two four-year council seats.

Here are some of the other contested races:

· Antrim Township Supervisor - John Alleman (D) and Rick Baer (R).

· Antrim Township Auditor - Justin M. Lahaza (D) and J. Brian Kirkpatrick (R).

· Chambersburg School Board, Region 8 - Renee B. Sharpe (D/R) and Daniel L. McGehee (Resolute Responsible Representation).

· Waynesboro School Board, North End (Vote for not more than two) - Lee E. Daywalt (D), Edward Wilson (D/R) and Firmadge W. Crutchfield (R).

· Lurgan Township Supervisor - Samuel L. Swanger (D) and Norman Appleby (R).

· Tuscarora School District (Vote for not more than five) Dan Reeder (D/R), Larry M. Buchanan (D/R), Guy N. Hollenshead (D/R), Tom Sollenberger (D), Daryl S. Hunsberger (R) and Clifford A. Smith Jr. (R).

· Southampton Township Supervisor - Mel Wadlinger (D) and Linda Coover (R).

· Washington Township Supervisor (Vote for not more than two) - Elaine Gladhill (D/R), Dave McCarney (D) and Stephen Kulla (R).

· Waynesboro Borough Council, Second Ward - Bill Devlin (D) and C. Harold Mumma (R).

There are also races for two Pennsylvania Supreme Court seats and three on the state Superior Court.

No Candidate Filed turns up more than 20 times for offices around the county, according to sample ballots.

In Fulton County, contested races exist for commissioner and sheriff and in a handful of townships.

In the commissioner race, Republican incumbents Bonnie Mellott-Keefer and Daniel H. Swain Jr. are being challenged by Democrats David R. Hoover II and Irvin Dasher. In the race for sheriff, Democrat Peggy Sue Bailey faces Republican Keith B. Stains.

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