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Harding first female commissioner; Kessinger top vote-getter and Snyder retains his seat

LANA MUTHLER / THE EXPRESS Clinton County’s three new commissioners are from left, Miles Kessinger, Angela Harding, and Jeff Snyder.

By LANA MUTHLER

lmuthler@lockhaven.com

LOCK HAVEN — Clinton County has its first female commissioner… and a come-back kid… as the Republicans maintain control of county government.

Miles Kessinger, a former county commissioner who entered the race again because he didn’t like being retired, was the top vote getter with 4,351 votes, beating incumbent Jeff Snyder, who won his third term with 3,927 votes. Both are Republicans.

And, Angela Harding, believed to be the first ever female Clinton County commissioner, came in third with 3,134 votes, defeating incumbent commissioner Paul Conklin, who polled 3,049 votes. Both are Democrats. All results are unofficial.

LANA MUTHLER / THE EXPRESS Miles Kessinger and his group of supporters pose for a picture at the Piper Building.

Kessinger, who served six yearsas commissioner before resigning to take the court administrator position upon the death of Dan Wilt, led the race from the very start. His numbers piled up as each of the county’s 34 precincts reported in and it was obvious early that his wish to return to county government would be granted.

It wasn’t the case for the other commissioner candidates.

As a matter of fact, Snyder started off slow and gained support through the evening and easily moved into second place and stayed there.

Meanwhile, Harding and Conklin remained close throughout the night, with Harding finally taking the lead as the final precincts were counted.

It was an amazing picture as Kessinger and his group of supporters, mostly family members dressed in bright yellow t-shirts with red lettering entered the second floor of the Piper building just after 10 p.m.

There were smiles on everyone’s faces and lots of hugs to go around.

Kessinger grinned from ear to ear. When he won a ticket to the general election in May, he said he couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t say anything with last night’s win. He just smiled.

Snyder came to the Piper building when he realized he would win his third term and sat in the crowd beside his campaign manager Betty Schantz. He said he was happy for another term. Although he lacked votes in the beginning, Schantz said she knew he would win in the end. “You never know until it’s over,” she said.

Harding was among the missing at the Piper building as the votes, cast on new voting machines for the first time, were tabulated.

Most who watched the votes come in through the night had already left the building when she wandered in, after numerous phone calls and text messages from several in the crowd.

As she made the corner off the elevator, Jeff and Miles were shaking hands and congratulating each other, and she quickly joined her fellow commissioners for a photo.

“Want in the middle,” Snyder asked her. “Yes I do,” she responded, as the three smiled broadly for the camera.

And so it was, an incumbent, a come-back kid who was the top vote getter and the county’s first female were elected commissioners last night.

It’s got to be an historic moment in county history.

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