With the largest number of contestants — 10 people seeking four seats — and only one incumbent in the running, Wilkes-Barre Area School Board not only had the most competitive race in Luzerne County, it was all but assured of an infusion of new blood, according to Tuesday’s unofficial primary results.
Veteran Christine Katsock teamed with newcomers Barry Matthews and Kathy Grinaway, promising to form a new majority. Campaign literature cited times Katsock was the lone “no” vote when hiring a solicitor for nearly $200,000 a year and placing one employee into a group of workers at nearly three times the salary of others under the same collective bargaining agreement.
In the end, voters from both parties nominated Katsock and Grinaway, but not Matthews. On the Republican ballot, it was Katsock, Caffrey, Denise Thomas and Grinaway. On the Democratic side it was Caffrey, Denise Thomas, Katsock and Ned Evans.
Greater Nanticoke Area
Amid recent claims that two members were hiding the spending of taxpayer dollars for a sign and a surveillance camera, voters in Greater Nanticoke Area were offered the choice of re-electing five incumbents for five seats or opting for the team of incumbent Frank Shepanski Jr. and newcomers Megan Tennesen and Wendy Wiaterowski. The three promised to ally with Ryan Verazin for a new majority.
Voters opted for change, making Wiaterowski, Tennesen and Shepanski the top three vote-getters on both tickets, unofficial results show. Donlin and Raineri got the two remaining slots on the Republican ticket while Raineri and Smith nabbed them on the Democratic ticket.
Donlin and Koslofksi were accused last month of misleading the board on the source of $4,347 used to buy a new sign, a charge Koslofski angrily denied. Donlin and Koslofski were accused earlier of having a camera installed in a wrestling room without telling the rest of the board.
Incumbents Bruce Knick and R. Kent Bratlee joined newcomer Rosanne Ricotta and former member Marty Quinn — who did not seek re-election two years ago — to form the Patriot First team, hoping to capture all four open seats with wins on both party ballots Tuesday. Voters gave them only a partial victory, according to unofficial returns.
Quinn topped both tickets. On the Republican ballot he was followed by Marilyn Starna, Ricotta and Knick. On the Democratic side it was former member John Adonizio, Knick and Bratlee. That gives Pittston Area voters a November ticket with only two candidates on both ballots, leaving the other seats still up for grabs.
Two incumbents were among nine candidates vying for four seats, with all appearing on both ballots.
The four candidates nabbing the most Republican votes were Jerry Stofko, incumbent John Bolin, Kimberly Yochem and incumbent John Marianacci. Stofko topped the Democratic ticket, followed by Bolin, Marianacci and Nick DeAngelo. That should set up a showdown between Yochem and DeAngelo in November.
Voters gave incumbent Clarence John another four years, but bumped incumbent Carmella Yenkevich off the November Ballot.
James Chapman topped the Democratic ballot for four available seats, followed by Bob Mehalick, Clarence John and Jared O’Donnell. Mehalick got the most Republican votes, followed by O’Donnell, Chapman and John. If the unofficial count holds, all four are virtually assured of victory in November.
With only five people running on both tickets for four available seats, Tuesday’s primary could, at best, create one race in November, giving three other candidates clear sailing to seats on the board in December.
Newcomer Maureen McGovern was at the top of both tickets, followed by Randy Swank, Norb Dotzel and incumbent Eric Aigeldinger, leaving Peter Strecker in fifth. On the Democratic ticket, Aigeldinger came in fifth, setting up a likely showdown between him and Strecker in November.
Dallas also had five cross-filed candidates vying for four seats. On the Republican ticket, Newcomer Sherri Newell was top vote-getter, followed by Jeff Thomas, incumbent Charles Preece and incumbent Karen Kyle. On the Democratic ticket, Newell and Thomas were again on top, followed by Kyle and Preece.
Patrick Musto came in fifth on both ballots, assuring the other four of wins in November, barring a successful independent or write-in candidate, unofficial results show.
Barring successful write-in campaigns, four Luzerne County school board races were decided before the first vote was cast Tuesday. In fact, in two of them, write-in candidates were needed just to fill the slates.
Incumbents Evelyn Larson, Frank Ciavarella Jr. and Lorraine Heydt were joined by newcomer Stacy McGovern in seeking four seats on both tickets with no competition. Evans topped the Republican ballot while Ciavarella had the most Democratic votes.
One of only two county districts to vote for school board members by region, Lake-Lehman also had three incumbents seeking re-election: Keven Carey had no competition for one seat in Region 1, and Andrew Salko and David Paulaskas were the only candidates for their two seats in region three. Newcomer Robin Wesley had no competition on the ballot for region two’s single open seat.
Wyoming Valley West
The only other county district that votes by region had an even less competitive race. Incumbents James Fender in region two, Gordon Dussinger in region five and Gary Evans in region six were each the only candidates for their seats. In region eight, no candidates were on the ballot, leaving the seat open to a write-in campaign, though incumbent Gary Richards did decide to run a write-in campaign.
The county’s smallest district by enrollment had four open seats but only three candidates, all incumbents who cross-filed: Alton Farver, Michael Kreidler and Peter Lanza.
Lanza nabbed the most votes of listed candidates on both ballots, though there were more write-in votes on the Democratic ticket than he or any other candidate nabbed: 177. There were 219 Republican write-ins, unofficial returns show.
The county will not tally specifics until later this week.