2017-03-18 / Front Page

Lackluster start for 2017 election

Dozens of influential local offices will be filled by voters this year, but candidates are few and far between.

Every countywide incumbent is unchallenged and there’s just a smattering of interest for dozens of local offices throughout Potter and Cameron counties.

Last week’s deadline for filing petitions to appear on the May 16 Municipal Primary Election ballot came and went with little drama.

In Potter County, the lucrative salary and benefit package that goes with the three district judge offices may have been a factor in swelling the field of candidates.

Incumbents Annette Easton of Coudersport and Kari McCleaft of Shinglehouse are running again. Easton is facing a challenge from Coudersport Mayor Brenda Whitman, while McCleaft is unopposed.

Meanwhile, District Judge Delores Weiss’s pending retirement has left the door open for a battle between Chris Kalacinski and Michael Murray for that Galeton post.

At the countywide level, District Attorney Andy Watson and Coroner Kevin Dusenbury are seeking re-election and unopposed.

Andy Dubots is unopposed for mayor of Coudersport. Unopposed candidates for Borough Council are: Ward 1, Bryan Welsh, Wayne Wentzel and Wayne Hathaway; Ward 2, Gary Walaski, April Castano and Brian Ruane.

In Austin, incumbents Mary Justh and Bill Solomon are seeking re-election to Borough Council and unopposed. Jim Setzer is running for another term as mayor.

Galeton Mayor Joe Petrencsik is running for one of two open Borough Council seats from Ward 1. Incumbent Robert Pflflug is also seeking re-election. No candidates have emerged for a single opening in Ward 2, or for the mayor’s office that Petrencsik now holds.

Among the more than two dozen school board seats to be filled across Potter County, just ten have attracted interest.

In Austin, Nancy Glover and Michelle Valenti are seeking the two seats in Region I (Austin Borough). A total of four seats in Regions II (Keating and Sylvania) and III (Portage and Wharton) failed to draw a single candidate.

Meanwhile, incumbent Russell Streich is the lone candidate running for Coudersport Area School Board, representing Region III (Hebron, Sweden, Homer, Summit and Allegany Independent). Petitions were not filed for two openings in Region I (Coudersport Ward 1 and Eulalia Township) and a single spot in Region II (Coudersport Ward II).

Three candidates have emerged to fill five open seats on the Galeton Area School Board. Bethany Fuller and Mary Geiter are pursuing four-year and two-year terms respectively, in Region I (Galeton Second Ward), while incumbent Charles Bach Sr. is unopposed in Region III (Abbott, Hector, Pike and West Branch townships). An opening in Region II (Galeton First Ward, Gaines and Elk townships) generated no interest.

Similar trends have emerged in Cameron County. District Judge Barry Brown, Sheriff Al Neyman and Prothonotary Mary Grace Olay are unopposed as they seek re-election.

Long-time Emporium Mayor Bruno Carovale’s announcement that he would be stepping down after 26 years in office has led to a flood of candidates vying to replace him.

Justin Zimmer and Phillip Reed will vie for the Republican nomination. George Sowers and Richard Balizet are seeking the Democratic nod.

Unopposed candidates for three borough council seats are LuAnn Reed, Pat Vogt and Garrett Ramsey, all Republicans. A fourth opening created by the recent resignation of Robert Hostler will be filled by appointment.

Driftwood Mayor Joseph Williams has moved out of the borough and cannot seek re-election. No candidates have emerged to fill his role. Also in Driftwood, four council seats are open, with incumbent Republicans Laird and Misty Lupro the only candidates.

There are seven school board seats at stake in the Cameron County School District. Four candidates are running, all unopposed: Marilyn Erickson, David McManigle, Paul Abriatis and Sylvia Homan.

Final day for voters to register, change party affiliations or report changes of address is April 17.

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