Centre Hall candidates miss filing deadline, plan write-in campaign

Voters in Centre Hall still will be encouraged to turn out at the polls for the May 21 municipal primary election, even though no names will appear on the ballot.

Mayor Ray Hankinson, Borough Council members Joe Hammaker, Harry Henry and Kathryn Long and tax collector Michele Whitman all are running for re-election, but all missed the March 12 deadline to file petitions that earn candidates a spot on the ballots.

Those offices require just 10 signatures to get a candidate’s name on the ballot and require the same number of write-in votes in the primary election to potentially appear on the November municipal election ballot.

While many vacancies remained across the county after the filing deadline, Centre Hall appeared unique in that every local position has openings, but not one person filed a petition to try to fill them. That also includes two auditor spots and the vacant constable position.

Borough Council President Joe Hammaker, who has served on the council for close to two decades, said the candidates received their petitions “very late,” probably the week before the deadline, but just laid them aside and assumed they still had a month to file.

The first day to circulate and file petitions was Feb. 19.

“The day that I pulled mine out was the 13th,” he said. “I told my wife — it was a nice, sunny day — I’m going to go and get this done today. My wife says, well, I don’t think so.”

Hammaker said his wife was looking at the newspaper, which featured a list of filed candidates the day after the deadline.

Other candidates could not be reached Monday afternoon.

The five candidates plan to put together write-in information and distribute it in the borough in mid-April, so residents have time to receive it and can write the candidates’ names on the ballots.

Hammaker said borough officials usually receive their petitions from the borough office and that, this year, they didn’t know the petitions had arrived or just didn’t receive them with much time left to file.

“I’m not blaming anybody,” Hammaker said, noting he didn’t look at the accompanying pink list of election dates and deadlines. “I should’ve turned the pink sheet over and looked at the date.”