SWOYERSVILLE — The Rev. Joseph Pisaneschi has no qualms with polling booths in the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish church basement, but signs soliciting votes cluttered in front of the church’s beloved statues cross the line.
Pisaneschi arrived early Tuesday to find campaign signs already installed on the church lawn. He and a maintenance worker promptly removed them and stacked them on the sidewalk.
“There were signs in front of the Blessed Mother statue,” Pisaneschi said.
The county election bureau leased the handicap-accessible church building for election days starting about two years ago. Pisaneschi insisted that no campaign signs would be posted on church property.
An election bureau official, Pisaneschi could not recall her name, agreed verbally.
Independent mayoral candidate for Swoyersville Chris Concert was miffed. He said the signs are often a candidate’s last chance to gain votes.
“I find a lot of people won’t take your card as they’re coming into the polling place. (The signs are) a last-minute plug,” Concert said. “There were people who didn’t even know there was a mayor’s race today. So the signs make a difference.”
Because the county pays to use the church basement for election day, campaign signs should be allowed like every other polling place in the county, Concert said.
After a call to the county election bureau, Concert was told the signs should be allowed on the church property by an attorney who was working for the bureau.
Pisaneschi said he set the condition of his own volition and the no-sign edict was not from the Scranton Diocese. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Catholic priest had not been informed of any change in the agreement with the election bureau.
“If the county has indeed altered that, we’re going to need to look at that and decide what we’re going to do for the future,” Pisaneschi said.