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Article published January 30, 2013
Plenty of municipal seats up for grabs
John Bojarski Butler Eagle
Voters in Butler County can look forward to a long list of municipal candidates in the May 21 primary. All 23 borough mayors — including those in Mars, Seven Fields, Harmony and Zelienople — and 79 borough council positions will be on the ballot. Four seats on the Zelienople Borough Council, as well as four in Mars, three in Harmony and three in Seven Fields will be up for grabs. Additionally, 36 township supervisor positions and 36 school board positions will appear on ballots. One supervisors seat will be contested in Cranberry and Jackson townships, with two seats up for grabs in Middlesex and Adams. Five four-year seats will be contested on the Mars and Seneca Valley school boards, with one two-year seat open in Mars. And, tax collectors for all municipalities, as well as many auditors and constables, are up for election. However, Shari Brewer, director of the county bureau of elections, said this year’s primary is expected to bring fewer voters to the polls than last year’s primary, which featured candidates for president, Congress and U.S. Senate. “History has shown that municipal elections normally have a lower turnout rate,” Brewer said. She wishes people would take more interest in municipal elections. “They are the ones that affect their everyday lives,” Brewer said. Although turnout likely will be low, municipal elections usually mean more work for the bureau. The main reason for this is because the bureau handles all of the municipal candidate petitions. In state and federal elections, the state Department of State handles petitions. Potential candidates are allowed to start circulating petitions Feb. 19. Candidates have to get 10 signatures to be on the ballot, but Brewer said the bureau recommends getting more in case of a challenge. Petitions have to be returned by March 12. Brewer said the bureau handles petitions as they come in. Workers have to verify that they are filled out completely and then Brewer verifies the signatures and checks the information. “It’s a lot to remember here,” Brewer said. In addition to all of the municipal candidates, poll workers at all 89 voting precincts in the county are up for election. Each precinct has one judge of elections and two inspectors, all with four-year terms. People running for judge of elections have to get 10 signatures on their petition and those running for inspector have to get five. Judges are paid $115 plus $20 for mileage and the inspectors are paid $110. Brewer said that the bureau has trouble finding poll workers. She said anyone interested in running should call or come to the bureau to get a petition. Brewer said school board elections can have their own idiosyncrasies. Besides judges, school board members are the only candidates who can cross file, meaning they can appear on the primary ballot as both a Republican and a Democrat. A person may win as a candidate for both parties and have his name appear on the general election ballot as “Democrat/Republican,” but that’s not always the case. “You might have some that win as Republicans but lose as Democrats,” Brewer said. The last day to register to vote in the primary is April 22.