Local incumbents come out ahead

Municipal, state primary results

Posted 5/23/23

NORTHEAST PA — The incumbent Republican county commissioners in both Wayne and Pike counties fared well in the May 16 municipal primary elections, according to unofficial results.

In Wayne …

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Local incumbents come out ahead

Municipal, state primary results


NORTHEAST PA — The incumbent Republican county commissioners in both Wayne and Pike counties fared well in the May 16 municipal primary elections, according to unofficial results.

In Wayne County, commissioner and county chairman Brian Smith scored a plurality with 36.69 percent, recent appointee James Shook came next with 32.23 percent, and challenger Jacob Hanna garnered the least with 30.71 percent.

Hanna, who ran on a promise to avoid property tax increases and instead cut out inefficiencies in the county budget, announced his concession on May 17.

“We came very close with only a 152 vote gap. It was an honor to run and represent the people of Wayne County. I met many wonderful people during my campaign, and I look forward to continuing that interaction,” Hanna wrote. “This isn’t the end for me, I’m just getting started and I look forward to what the future holds.”

Similarly in Pike County, commissioner and county chairman Matthew Osterberg garnered the largest share of votes—34.33 percent. Commissioner Ronald Schmalzle came next with 30.61 percent. Education advocate Matthew Contreras and Second Amendment advocate Bob Roche, who ran as a “team,” both garnered about 17 percent of the vote. Osterberg and Schmalzle considered the Contreras/Roche campaign an attempt to pull local politics to the “far right.”

The top two candidates from both counties will proceed to the general election in November.

On the Democratic side—in both Wayne and Pike counties—only two candidates each were on the ballots. Commissioner Jocelyn Cramer and Hawley Borough Councilor Michael Dougherty are running in Wayne County. Commissioner Anthony Waldron and Habitat for Humanity of NY & Westchester County CEO Karen Haycox are running in Pike.

State and local judicial elections

Following Tuesday’s vote for PA Supreme Court nominees, Democrat Daniel McCaffery won his party’s nomination and will face off against Republican nominee Carolyn Carluccio in November. McCaffery received his law degree from Temple University, served as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia and unsuccessfully ran for DA in 2009. Carluccio became Montgomery County’s first female president judge last year; before that, she was elected president of the Montgomery Bar Association.

In the lower court races, Philadelphia Democrat Matt Wolf will vie for a Commonwealth Court seat against Cumberland County Republican Megan Martin in November. The Commonwealth Court handles mostly high-profile civil cases, most often those that involve state departments and agencies.

Democrats Jill Beck of Allegheny County and Timika Lane of Philadelphia will face Republicans Maria Battista of Clarion County and Harry Smail of Westmoreland County for two seats on the Superior Court, which handles criminal cases and nongovernmental civil cases.

The winners in November will serve 10-year-long terms, after which they face a simple “yes” or “no” retention vote, which justices rarely lose.

In Pike County, two magisterial district judge seats were up for election. For District 60-3-01 (Matamoras, Milford, Westfall), Cristin Cavallaro came out safely ahead of her opponent Dave Clark in both the Republican and Democratic races. (PA law allows magisterial candidates to run on both major party lines).For District 60-3-03 (Dingman, Lackawaxen, Shohola), Ashley Zimmerman defeated her opponents Theo Balu and Michael Mancino on both tickets.

School board election results

Local politics can become most divisive at the local school level, where simple differences in opinion can quickly turn into accusations of the indoctrination of youth. School board meetings nationwide, in recent years, have become forums for hot button debates over issues like critical race theory, gender identity, sexual orientation and the COVID-19 crisis.

With five open seats for Delaware Valley School District’s school board, 11 candidates threw their hats into the ring, many of whom ran on both party ballots. A handful of school board candidates—falling into the same category as Contreras and Roche in their bids for a commissioner seat—received endorsements from Pike County voters as “true conservatives” or “patriots,” monikers that others have argued really mean “far right.”

According to the website www.patriotsofpike.org, the conservative candidates of choice for DV school board were Theresa Brown, Carl Will, Dorit Smith, Joel Messaros and Joe Washington. According to unofficial results, Will is the only one from the group to make the cut for November.

The Republican slate for November includes Dawn Bukaj, John Jack Fisher, Christine Agron, Brian Fells, and Carl Will. Bukaj, Agron and Fisher each made it onto the Democratic ballot as well, as did the highest-earning Democratic candidates Rosemary Walsh and Brian Carso.

The “patriots” website also endorsed Jasmine Ruiz, Maria Rotella and Annette Yamakawa for the Wallenpaupack Area School District board, and Kerri Wilson for the East Stroudsburg school board; none of them earned the top spots on Tuesday.

wayne county, pike county, election, results, municipal, primary, commissioner, school board


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