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Workshops for potential candidates

January 21, 2009|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Many school board, borough and township offices will be up for election this year, but instead of names, the words "No Candidate Filed" will be on the ballot for many of those offices when the May 19 primary arrives.

For those considering serving in public office, but who do not know the ins and outs of the process, the Penn State Extension Service is offering workshops in Franklin and Fulton counties. Potential candidates can learn from those who have been through the process, Extension Educator Judy Chambers said.

"We're aiming for people who think they might be interested in running for school board, the township or borough ... A lot of times these decisions are made at the last moment," Chambers said. "There's an interest in getting people engaged in their communities, not just filling empty slots."

"If you've got some interest, some commitment and a willingness to serve, that's all you need," Chambers said.

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The two-hour Franklin County workshop will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 26, in the county's Administrative Annex at 218 N. Second St., Chambersburg. In Fulton County, the workshop will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 2, in the Fulton Theater in McConnellsburg, Pa.

The first half of the workshops will include an overview of Pennsylvania local government and the responsibilities of township supervisors, borough council members and school directors, and information on filing petitions, reporting campaign expenses and other reporting requirements.

That will be followed by a panel of local officials who will talk about why they decided to run and what they learned from the experience, Chambers said.

"We tried to get people who were fairly new to office, so running is still fresh in their minds," Chambers said.

Tuscarora School Board Director Cliff Smith, Washington Township Supervisor Stephen Kulla and Chambersburg Mayor Pete Lagiovane will make up the panel in Franklin County. Pat Frasier of the McConnellsburg Borough Council, Thompson Township Supervisor Bob Swadley and South Fulton School District Director Tim Mellott will make up the Fulton County panel.

Those who decide to jump into politics will have to figure out some things for themselves, Chambers said.

"What the workshops won't tell you is how to campaign," she said.

Two years ago, about two dozen people attended the Franklin County workshop, Chambers said.

Those interested in attending may call the Franklin County Extension Office at 717-263-9226, the Fulton County Extension Office at 717-485-4111 or Chambers at 717-334-6271, extension 313. Chambers also may be e-mailed at chambers@psu.edu.

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