Monday, September 21, 2009

Fact-checking is in order on this local item in Fayette County. Isn't it odd, only the Republican Party locally made a 'selection' for a candidate for the special election? And the name of the individual was not released. Why not? Why weren't both political parties interviewed for this article? And what about the so-called form that was the wrong form? Who gave out the form? From where was the form obtained?


Council seat requires special election
September 20, 2009 04:22 AM TEXT SIZE By: STEVE FERRIS
Herald Standard
The Department of State has informed the Fayette County Election Bureau that state law requires a special election to fill a position on Uniontown City Council.

Bureau director Laurie Lint sent letters in March to the county Democratic and Republican parties, saying they should submit nominations for the council seat by 4:30 p.m. Sept. 14.

Last week, Lint said the position would not appear on the Nov. 3 election ballot because she contacted the State Department and was told the seat would have to be filled through an appointment until the 2011 elections because the seat was vacated after the March 10 deadline for candidates to submit petitions to enter the primary.

Fayette County Commissioner Angela M. Zimmerlink said she contacted a Department of State attorney after she received many calls about the council seat last week and was told the seat should appear on the November ballot.

She said

Louis Lawrence Boyle, deputy chief counsel for the Department of State, informed the county that Sept. 14, which was 50 days before the election, is set in state law 25 P.S. section 1953(b) as the deadline for nomination certificates.

Boyle said it appears that the City Council vacancy should be filled in the municipal election in November because the vacancy existed on March 17, which was at least 30 days before the election and he cited state law 53 P.S. section 35801 as the source of that information, Zimmerlink said.

The attorney also said that in similar cases in the past, the department has advised counties that political parties seeking an extension of the deadline should request one from Common Pleas Court because the Department of State secretary can not and the department can't authorize a county election board to do so, she said.

Boyle added that the City Council seat is not under the jurisdiction of the Department of State and the department has no authority over the county's handling of the election, Zimmerlink said.


"It is strictly a local matter," she said, referring to the information from Boyle.

The Republican Party reportedly submitted a nomination on Sept. 14.

Zimmerlink said she was told the nomination didn't meet statutory guidelines because the wrong form was used.

She said she wants to convene a meeting of the county election board, which all three commissioners serve on, to air the matter in public and inform voters about what took place. The board would not render a decision on the election if a hearing were held, she said.

However, Vincent Zapotosky, chairman of the board of commissioners, said he is not prepared to hold a hearing and the state did not direct the county to have one. He said the election for the council seat should be corrected administratively, Zimmerlink said.

She said the election bureau will notify the parties about the Department of State's position on the election.

The seat in question initially was that of former councilman Marlin Spouts. He won the position in the 2007 election and took office in January 2008.

He was indicted in a federal mortgage fraud case about a month after taking office and resigned March 17 this year after he was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay restitution.

At its March 17 meeting, council appointed Philip J. Michael to serve the remainder of Sprouts' term, which would have ended in 2011.

Michael resigned on April 14 after Democratic council candidate Gary Gearing sued him, claiming he was not qualified to hold the office because he lived in the city for less than a year before he was appointed and council should have appointed him to serve only until the November election.

Council then appointed Republican candidate Curtis Sproul to fill the vacancy until the November election.

Republican candidates Russ Rhodes and Sproul, and Democratic candidates Francis "Joby" Palumbo and Gearing are running for two four-year seats on council.

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