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County Hall Corner: What Can We Pull from the Polls?

Yes, we will review the takeaways from the election on November 7th, but before we get there, we need to stop and give a really big THANK YOU to Forrest Lehman and his incredible staff members, small in number but outstanding in service. The work that they must do is mind-boggling. Every election has its challenges, but this particular one had a huge influx of mail-in ballots, polling stations that changed, recruitment of new poll workers, and other preparations in 81 precincts spread out over a wide geographical area. Lehman and his staff do an absolutely herculean task and deserve our praise. And those faithful poll workers also deserve a huge ‘thank-you’ because we could not have an election without them.

Even though this was an off-year election, it still requires the same amount of effort as every other primary and regular election, no matter what year it is. Many think that off-year elections are not that important as there are no national offices such as the House of Representatives, Senate, or Presidential candidates to vote for.

Yet this election was for positions for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and Commonwealth Court, as well as Lycoming County Commissioners and other county positions, and local city, municipalities, and township government officials and school board members. All of these are definitely important as these are the ones that are closest to impacting our daily lives. This is why Forrest Lehman always says, “No election is an off-year election. Every election is important.”

All the results can be found on by scrolling down on “Voter Services” from the category “Departments.” This is where the winners from each municipality can be found.

Looking at the county results, there were no surprises in the offices that essentially had only one candidate running: Krista Rogers for County Controller, Chuck Kiessling for Coroner, Tom Marino for District Attorney, Tom Heap for Prothonotary, David Huffman for Register and Recorder, and Cindy Newcomer for County Treasurer. All of these won by 98 percent or more.

The real race was for Lycoming County Commissioner. All three incumbents’ terms had expired, which meant that there were three openings. With both Tony Mussare and Rick Mirabito opting to retire, it meant that there was only one incumbent, Republican Scott Metzger. Running for the two open positions were Republican Marc Sortman and two Democratic candidates, Mark Mussina and Denitra Moffett.

Mark Mussina and Denitra Moffett carried the normal number of Democratic votes, taking roughly 30 percent of the total vote. However, Republicans Scott Metzger received 37 percent, and Marc Sortman received 32 percent. Mark Mussina received roughly 18 percent, and Denitra Moffett received 13 percent. To be honest, Moffett’s 5,657 votes were somewhat impressive given that she had lacked government experience and had only lived in the area for several years.

The new Lycoming County Commissioners Board appears to have some good potential.

Scott Metzger has four years of experience and will continue as the board’s president, given that he was the highest vote-getter. Marc Sortman has served well as a Loyalsock Township Supervisor, which is arguably either the most important or one of the most important townships in Lycoming County. Mark Mussina has a wide portfolio and will surely bring a new perspective. It will be interesting to follow them in the coming months.

On the state level, the big race had Democrat Daniel McCaffery defeating Republican Carolyn Carluccio to win a spot on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. This was a race that received a lot of attention given the power of this court, which is already controlled by Democrats. The Republicans were hoping to at least close the gap by having three Republican judges against four Democrat judges. But with McCaffery’s victory, it will be a five-to-two Democrat majority.

This means that even if one of the Democrats goes off the reservation and does not go along with the party line, the other four are still the majority. It was exactly because of this that both parties poured in record amounts of money (literally tens of millions of dollars!) for this race between McCaffery and Carluccio. It was relatively close, roughly six percentage points, and the game-breaker might have been the cry of alarm from abortion advocates who highlighted what they saw as a threat that Carluccio could be to abortion access in the state.

Truth be told, all elections have consequences. The turnout in Lycoming County of just 35.78 percent is sad, signifying that only one-third of the voting population took the time to exercise their right to choose their local elected officials. I love what Abraham Lincoln said about this: “Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”