Special election process in hands of governor

LOCK HAVEN — With12th Congressional District Rep. Tom Marino’s resignation effective tomorrow, the Clinton County commissioners are worried about the void left behind and when that position will be filled.

At Monday’s work session, they talked about the situation.

They know a special election process will be held to appoint the next representative, and they are hoping that special election process will coincide with the spring primary election on May 21.

“We had hoped to reach out to the congressman for legislative issues, but in the meantime, what is important to us in discussing this special election process is to get it on the ballot for the spring primary so we do not have to have a separate election,” said commissioner Robert “Pete” Smeltz.

“We hope that the governor allows us to have it on the primary ballot. It would cost the county a minimum of $25,000 in election staff to do a separate election event, and that is not counting printing costs, advertising, and other costs. It would be a financial burden on the county to have a separate election, but ultimately, it is up to what ever the governor says,” said Maria Boileau, county voter registrar.

Boileau estimates the price tag would be close to $30,000 once all the costs associated with a potential election are tallied.

“It would include pulling staff from their normal jobs, IT, maintenance, dropping the machines off and picking them back up… but the fact of the matter is that we do not have a representative in Congress until we appoint somebody to that position and have this election,” Smeltz said.

Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District is located in central and northern Pennsylvania and includes portions of Bradford, Centre, Clinton, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Northumberland, Perry, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, and Wyoming counties.

“The party leaders from these 15 counties will selectively choose which candidates — A Republican and a Democrat– to place on this ballot. The party chairs can consult with their various committees to make that decision. Each party will only be allowed one representative, so somehow they will have to collectively agree on one candidate,” explained Smeltz.

“This special election would be listed on a separate page,” further explained Boileau. “We would have to advertise and explain that to everybody so that they are aware.”

Boileau notes that, if this is the case, “everybody would get a vote on the congressman, but only majority party members (Democrats and Republicans) would get to vote in the municipal primary election.”

“It could even increase or enhance voter turnout,” Smeltz noted. “People can show up not only to pick the people within their party, but also to choose the new representative in Congress. That would garner interest in the public, I would think.”

The commissioners also announced that their meeting scheduled for Feb. 7 has been moved to 10:30 a.m. in Courtroom 1 of the Clinton County Courthouse, 230 E. Water St., Lock Haven.

The relocation of the meeting is in honor of the 150th anniversary of the county courthouse, which was opened in 1869, and the first ever meeting of Clinton County commissioners was held there.

“It could be a good time to focus on the renovation plan coming to the courthouse,” said Smeltz.

“We have been asking for a historian to come in and talk about the construction and history of the building,” added Jann Meyers, county chief clerk. “Justin Houser was quite thrilled to agree to do that. Minutes of the first commissioner’s meeting may even be available.”

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