Three of five Luzerne County Election Board members won’t seek another term

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - [email protected]
Baldino -

Three of the five Luzerne County Election Board members announced Thursday they won’t be seeking reappointment when their terms end early next year — Thomas Baldino, John Ruckno and H. Jeremy Packard.

All three citizens have served in unpaid seats since the board was created under the new home rule government in 2012. Under the prior county structure, the three commissioners served on the election board, which oversees county elections and voting matters.

Baldino, a Wilkes University professor, said during Thursday’s board meeting he has suggested the county council members consider appointing a minority female to the seat.

“I urge you and the members of county council to appoint a woman to the board, and if possible, a woman of color,” he wrote in a letter he said he sent to council Chairwoman Linda McClosky Houck Thursday. “Though women are over 50 percent of the county’s population, no woman currently serves on the board.”

Baldino had complained about the council’s decision against reappointing Barbara Williams to the board last year, describing it as “inappropriate” and “unjust.”

The county’s minority population also has increased and should have representation on the board, Baldino said.

“I hope and trust that county council will make a serious effort to recruit candidates for this position who will represent these important constituencies within the county,” he wrote.

Ruckno said several new county council members have been elected, and he believes they will “probably want to have their own people.” He said the post has been rewarding.

“There’s never been a partisan position taken by anybody,” he said, referring to his board colleagues. “Hopefully you’ll have the same kind of people going forward.”

The seats of Ruckno and Baldino expire in January, and Packard’s is up in February, county records say.

Paul DeFabo and Gerald Hudak also serve in board terms that expire in January 2018.

The home rule charter requires two Republicans and two Democrats, with a fifth member — currently Packard — selected by the other four board members instead of the council. Baldino is a Democrat, and Ruckno is a Republican.

In other business Thursday, Kingston resident Brian Shiner asked when campaign finance reports will be posted online as they were in the past. He has pushed for a return of online posting of the forms numerous times.

The board approved county Election Director Marisa Crispell’s proposal Thursday to reactivate the online posting in January, but not for all races. Crispell said she can commit to posting finance reports in countywide races — council, the district attorney and controller — and school board and magisterial district judge races.

Crispell said she does not have enough staff to post reports in all municipal races or to scan in reports from prior years.

She has requested funding for a deputy in the 2016 county budget, but it’s unclear if a county council majority will consider the request during next week’s budget adoption.


By Jennifer Learn-Andes

[email protected]

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.