The 2019 municipal election is quickly approaching, and many local seats are up for re-election. Here’s your guide to what seats are open and who has announced they’re running.
Centre County Board of Commissioners
Board of Commissioners Chairman Michael Pipe and Vice Chairman Mark Higgins, both Democrats, jointly announced their re-election campaign Monday in a press release and video.
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The commissioners, who ran as a team four years ago, emphasized their accomplishments over the term, including the investment in and support of Bellefonte and Philipsburg business incubators, Centre County libraries, 9-1-1 infrastructure and training facilities for first responders and new voting machines.
Pipe, who was first elected county commissioner in 2011, is seeking his third consecutive term in office. Higgins is seeking a second term.
“Over the past three years, Mark and I have worked together as a team to find solutions to the challenges facing Centre County,” Pipe said in a press release. “With the help of residents, other elected officials and over 550 County employees, we have increased services without increasing property taxes.”
As of Wednesday, five Republicans have plans to run for Centre County commissioner this year.
Republican Steven Dershem, who has served 16 years as county commissioner, is seeking a fifth term. Dershem, of Bellefonte, is a lifelong resident of Centre County.
“From supporting first responders to battling the heroin/opioid overdose crisis, I have been hands on keeping our county safer for our families. I have been a watchdog of our county budget with no county property tax increase for nine straight years. No other candidate can make that claim,” he wrote in a press release. “I look to the future with great optimism. I will continue to work in cooperation with state, federal and local governments, nonprofit organizations and individual citizens to provide the best quality services to our residents.”
Joseph Soloski, a self-proclaimed “liberty-minded Republican” originally from the Pittsburgh area has announced his candidacy. In 2018, Soloski, a certified public accountant who ran his own practice for 27 years, ran for state representative in the 81st Legislative District on the Libertarian ticket, and lost to Republican incumbent Rich Irvin. He wants to cut costs and taxes for the county, according to his press release, and he opposes the recent hotel tax increase. He lives in Halfmoon Township with his wife, Sally.
Chris Exarchos, a former Centre County commissioner, is also running for commissioner this year on the Republican ticket. He served two non-consecutive terms — the first from 2004-2008 — on the Board of Commissioners. He lives in Lemont.
Vicki Wedler, a licensed realtor with Kissinger, Bigatel and Brower, is running for commissioner as a Republican. She was the first woman elected to serve as Centre County commissioner and was also the first female president of the Susquehanna Economic Development Association-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG), according to her campaign announcement. After a career in industry and education, Wedler served as county commissioner for three consecutive terms from 1988-2000. She lives in Ferguson Township with her husband, Joe.
Rush Township Supervisor Pat Romano, Jr. is running for county commissioner. He also serves on Technical Committee of the Centre Region Council of Governments, representing the Moshannon Valley Planning Region.
Special Election — 12th Congressional District
The unexpected resignation of Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, of Cogan Station, forced a special election scheduled to fill his seat. The special election will coincide with Pennsylvania’s primary election on May 21.
Democrat Marc Friedenberg, a Ferguson Township resident, is running for Marino’s open seat after an unsuccessful campaign in the 2018 midterm election. On Feb. 12, the 35-year-old was selected as the Democratic nominee to run in the special election.
There are seven Republicans who have declared their candidacy for a seat to represent the 12th Congressional District so far, three of which are political newcomers. On March 2, Republicans will announce their party nominee for the seat.
Doug McLinko, a Bradford County Commissioner and “pro-life, Constitutional conservative,” will run again for the seat he lost in the 2018 Republican primary to Marino.
Fred Keller, a three-term state representative for the 85th Legislative District (Snyder and Union counties) in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, will also run for the seat. He lives with his wife and children in Kreamer, Snyder County.
Jeff Wheeland, who was just re-elected to represent the 83rd Legislative District (Lycoming and Union counties) in the state House of Representatives, is also running. A former Lycoming County commissioner, he lives in Williamsport with his wife.
Malcolm Derk, a former three-term Snyder County commissioner, announced his intention to run Feb. 21. A two-time past president of SEDA-COG who is now the director of grants and foundation relations at Susquehanna University, Derk said his “sixteen years of local government experience and knowledge of higher education provide a unique background to serve the district.” He lives in Snyder County with his wife and two children.
Iraq War veteran Stacy Garrity, who served three deployments and was awarded two bronze stars and the Legion of Merit, announced her run in mid-February. She is the vice president for two divisions of the company Global Tungsten and a political newcomer. She supports secure borders, tax cuts and bringing jobs back to the 12th district, according to her press release. She lives with her husband in Athens, Bradford County.
Robert Noerr, a 34-year-old political newcomer from rural central Pennsylvania who said he is “not wealthy or well-connected,” is also running for the seat. He said he does not live in the 12th District, but lives in the neighboring 15th District.
Pat Miller, also 34 and a political newcomer, declared his intention to run in the special election. A graduating Penn State Law student who lives in State College, Miller said he is “pro-life (and) a defender of constitutional values such as the 1st and 2nd Amendment freedoms that are so important to Pennsylvanians.”
Colleen Kennedy announced she is running for the seat vacated by five-term county treasurer Richard Fornicola. Kennedy, who lives in State College, currently works as an accountant and has been an auditor and treasurer of various organizations, according to a press release she sent out.
Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers is seeking re-election for a sixth term. Sayers, of Milesburg, has served as coroner since 1998 and has been a licensed funeral director since 1990, according to a press release from his office.
Jeremy Breon, Centre County first deputy prothonotary, is running for prothonotary and clerk of courts. Breon’s decision comes after the retirement of current Prothonotary Debra Immel, who has served in the position for 44 years. Breon, who lives in Aaronsburg, has served in the Prothonotary’s Office since 2011.
State College Mayor Don Hahn, a local attorney, is running for the magisterial district judge seat left by retiring incumbent Judge Carmine Prestia. If elected, Hahn would have to step down from his position as mayor, for which he was sworn in January 2018.
Jason Moser, one of two Centre County jury commissioners, is running for county controller. A current graduate student at Penn State studying governmental accounting, Moser said he is running to promote “greater accountability and efficiency in reporting” for Centre County residents. He lives in Bellefonte with his wife.
Recorder of Deeds
Joseph Davidson announced he will run for a sixth term as Centre County recorder of deeds. In office since 2000, he steered the department toward e-recording and helped implement the public access internet system WEBIA, according to a press release he sent out. A State College Area High School and Penn State graduate, he lives in Boalsburg with his wife and son.
Georgi Bennett, the co-owner of a small horse and beef cattle farm with her husband in Potter Township, is running for Centre County recorder of deeds. A graduate of Bald Eagle Area High School, Bennett has worked in budgeting and accounting, including a position in the Clinton County Recorder and Register Office. Bennett cited her “excellence in finance, organization (and) servicing the public” as reasons why she is an ideal candidate.