GOP keeps school board Candidates, election officials call voter turnout ‘sad’

By on November 9, 2011

By: STEPHEN SEEBER Record Express Staff, Staff Writer

Photos by Stephen Seeber
Election Day morning starts with coffee and conversation. Republican school board candidate Nelson Peters (center) talks shop with Ed Tobin campaign team members Pete Sahd (left) and Mark Hough (right).Photos by Stephen Seeber
Election Day morning starts with coffee and conversation. Republican school board candidate Nelson Peters (center) talks shop with Ed Tobin campaign team members Pete Sahd (left) and Mark Hough (right).

As expected, Republicans swept the Warwick School Board race in Tuesday’s election.

Five GOP-endorsed candidates beat four Democrats in the only contested local campaign.

The top vote-getters, for five available seats to be filled in January, were as follows:

Darryl L. Miller (R) – 2,218

Todd Rucci (R) – 2,213

Scott Shaub (R) – 2,181

Nelson L. Peters (R) – 2,062

Matthew Knouse (R) – 2,019

Anne Pyle (D) – 1,049

George Sayles (D) – 974

F. Patrick O’Keeffe (D) – 931

Chris Carlton (D) – 902

For the Republicans, who emerged from a rough spring primary, the victory was key in demonstrating that the local party remains united and in touch with the community.

For the Democrats, who rarely have a presence on local ballots, the fact that voters had a choice in this general election was considered a victory.

Still, the dismal voter turnout was a disappointment to candidates on both sides.

"I’m very disappointed, not in the results, but in the turnout," said O’Keeffe early Wednesday morning. "Some very good people won tonight in the different local races, and I wish them all the best in their responsibilities. I am happy that we had two parties represented on the ballot and want to thank the other Democratic candidates.

"Still, in the end, I am disappointed that more people — Democratic, Republican or Independent — did not turn out to vote. Across the globe, people are fighting and being killed, trying to achieve what we neglect and take for granted. It’s a very sad commentary on us as a community."

Election officials were reporting below average participation throughout the region.

"It’s low, sadly," said Judge of Elections Linda Lohr, who manages the polls at St. Luke’s United Church of Christ on North Broad Street. "This is a general election, and it compares to most primaries, which are typically low."

One hundred and twenty-nine of the 885 who are registered to vote at St. Luke’s showed up on Tuesday.

"We had more people show up for a Weight Watchers meeting than show up to actually vote," said Mary Lynn Lavender, a volunteer who was greeting voters at Lititz United Methodist Church on Market Street.

"It’s rather slow — below normal," said Majority Inspector Bob Hill, who was sitting in a quiet lobby at Lancaster Evangelical Free Church on Pierson Road. Fifty-four of LEFC’s 1,170 voters were accounted for as of 10 a.m., three hours into election day.

The first voter didn’t show up at the Brunnerville Fire Hall until 7:15 a.m. (polls opened at 7).

"There’s usually a line before the polls open," said volunteer Karen Harnly.

About 12 hours later, 196 of Brunnerville’s 1,207 registered voters had participated.

"That’s about average," said Judge of Elections Harry Aichele.

Gary and Charlotte Hanna of East Third Avenue were among the few who showed up to vote at the Lititz Public Library

"We vote every time there is an election," said Gary, "and we feel badly about the fact that people do not take part. People complain, but then they don’t take part."

"It’s a shame," Charlotte added. "It’s a terrible shame."

"Maybe it’s a lack of interest, or a lack of patriotism," said Craig Wagaman after voting at LEFC. "I just think it’s our duty to do it. I can’t recall ever missing (an election)."

"It’s a shame because these are important elections," said State Rep. and former Lititz Borough Councilman John Bear. "You’re electing your county commissioners, you’re electing your school board. These are the people who have the most direct impact on your lives as taxpayers and citizens."

Despite the turnout, those who did exercise their right cited choice and community service as prevailing themes.

"I think we have a number of quality candidates on both tickets," Wagaman added. "And I think it’s good for the whole process that voters have more choices."

"Everyone who is here, regardless of party, we all believe in the same thing," said Democratic candidate Sayles. "The thing that separates us is the perception. I’ve served with a lot of Republicans (as a community volunteer). You break down a lot of barriers when you work next to people. And you realize, we’re all here for the same thing."

"It’s a lot less about the political party and the process," said Pete Sahd, who worked on Ed Tobin’s district judge campaign. "It’s more about who they (the candidates) are."

Tobin’s race was in the primary election, when he went up against GOP-endorsed Randall Wenger. He was unopposed on the general election ticket. Still, Tobin and his campaign team were out and about to thank voters for their support.

Other candidates who ran unopposed and thus won on Tuesday, all Republicans, include:

Lititz Borough council members Scott Hain, Shane A. Weaver and Douglas Bomberger.

Warwick Township supervisors C. David Kramer and Michael A. Vigunas, along with Warwick Township auditor Michael Tait.

Elizabeth Township supervisor Jeff Burkholder.

Also of local interest, Lititz resident and former borough council president Dennis Stuckey joined Scott Martin in winning another term as county commissioner. Stuckey spent part of his morning visiting local polling sites.

While Lititz Democrats came up short on votes, and candidates, this fall, they remain optimistic.

"We have more people on the ballot than we have had in a long time," said Marianne O’Keeffe, district leader for the Warwick Democrats, as she greeted voters at the library. "It’s important to have choice, otherwise you don’t have democracy. Every year we’re going to have more and more. That’s our goal."

Currently, there are approximately 5,000 registered Democrats in the Lititz area, according to O’Keeffe.

"We don’t have a chance if we don’t run," said Pyle, a real estate professional and former teacher, who was running for the first time. "We have to have both sides of the political spectrum represented. The fact that there is a choice is a considerable win. I really believe that."

"At least they know we exist," added Sayles, after learning he and his fellow Democrats had come up short in the school board race. "It takes a long time to change things, but we’ve got people on the ground now and we’ll get more people on the ballots. I’m not done." More ELECTION, page A19

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