Several eye run for Mundy’s seat

June 18th, 2015 9:01 pm

First Posted: 1/7/2014

KINGSTON — Tim McGinley said he needs two weeks to make a decision on whether to enter the race for the seat in the 120th Legislative District.

And while McGinley and others contemplate their political futures, some new names — including a former newspaper editor and a gun shop owner — have surfaced as possible successors to 24-year Democratic incumbent Phyllis Mundy.

Mundy is retiring at the end of 2014 and her seat will be contested in the May primary for nominees of both parties. The primary winners will square off in November.

There are 40,196 registered voters in the 120th Legislative District. Of those, 22,228 are Democrats and 14,003 are Republicans. The district consists of the townships of Exeter, Jackson and Kingston and the boroughs of Courtdale, Exeter, Forty Fort, Kingston, Luzerne, Pringle, Swoyersville, West Pittston, West Wyoming and Wyoming.

Joe Butkiewicz, former executive editor of The Times Leader, said Tuesday that he has been approached by people urging him to run. The 55-year-old resident of Kingston and a Republican, said he is considering the prospect, but won’t make his decision for at least another two weeks.

“I’m flattered that they thought about me,” he said. “Certainly the idea of serving the local community is an appealing thing. When I left the paper, running for office was the furthest thing from my mind.” Butkiewicz said he wants to serve the community and is giving politics serious consideration.

“When Phyllis decided not to run, it took me by surprise,” he said. “There are a lot of names being mentioned as possible candidates, and that’s good to see. All these races need that.”

Norm Gavlick, 53, of Kingston, owns Gun Hippo and is a member of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. A Republican, Gavlick said he, too, has been approached and is considering entering the race.

“I ran against Phyllis many years ago,” Gavlick said. “I’ve been asked to consider this, so naturally I will give it some thought. But I’ve made no decision as yet.”

McGinley, 66, a retired educator and current member of Luzerne County Council, said he expects to make an announcement within the next two weeks.

While McGinley and Butkiewicz ponder their next moves, several others have also indicated they might run. They include: Republican Aaron Kaufer, 25, Kingston; and Democrats Gary Mack, 55, Edwardsville; Eileen Cipriani, 50, West Wyoming; Laura Dennis, 40; John Bolin, 44, Wyoming; and Cassandra Coleman-Corcoran, 25, Exeter.

Wyoming Mayor Bob Boyer, chairman of the Luzerne County Democratic Party, said he hasn’t heard of any other possible candidates, but he expects a full field come May.

“It will be interesting to see who circulates nominating petitions,” Boyer said. “This is the first time this seat has been open in 24 years. I expect a lot of candidates on both sides of the ticket.”

Feb. 18 is the first day to circulate petitions to get on the May 20 ballot. Boyer attributes some of the high interest to the $84,000 annual salary.