All Abingtons-area primary election races uncontested
Apr. 29—None of the primary election races in the Abingtons are contested this year.
That means candidates running for Abington Heights School Board and municipal offices in the boroughs of Clarks Green, Clarks Summit and Dalton, and Benton, Glenburn, North Abington, Ransom, South Abington, Waverly and West Abington townships are poised to advance and appear on the general election ballot, barring successful write-in campaigns. It's likely that almost all of those candidates will be uncontested in November as well.
Voters in Newton and La Plume townships won't see a name on the ballot for township supervisor when they head to the polls May 16, as no candidates filed to run. La Plume Twp. Supervisor Gerald Henry is running a write-in campaign to retain his seat; Newton Twp. Supervisor Kevin Carr did not file for reelection after serving two terms.
All Abington Heights School Board candidates cross-filed as Democrats and Republicans, meaning they seek both parties' nominations. The races are uncontested because there aren't more candidates than nominations available. Warren T. Acker is the lone candidate in the district's Region 1, as are Rod Azar and Grace Hillebrand in Regions 2 and 3, respectively. Philip Robson, also a Democratic county commissioner candidate, and Greg Moran are the only candidates seeking one of two Republican and Democratic nominations for at-large seats.
Lackawanna Trail School Board races for regions in or including areas of Lackawanna County are either uncontested or have no candidates in the primary. Brendan S. Dwyer, who cross-filed, is the lone candidate running to fill a two-year unexpired term in the school district's Region 3, which includes Dalton and La Plume and West Abington townships.
University of Scranton political science Professor Jean Harris, Ph.D., theorized about why the races aren't more competitive. Local elected positions often demand a lot of time and work for little or no pay, she said, noting people may not feel like it's worth their time or effort.
School board meetings in particular have become culture war battlefields in many parts of the country, where sometimes high-profile debates over book bans, curriculum content and other issues may sour people on the prospect of serving, she said.
"In my mind, local government is one of the most important governments," Harris said. "However, given that many of these jobs are really part-time, given some of the controversies, particularly in schools, and the amount of time it really takes to do the jobs, people aren't seeing that as something they have time to do. I think that's a big part of it."
In Dalton, three Republican borough council incumbents — Bill Brandt, Brian Malamud and Elizabeth Bonczar — are uncontested in the primary and would be uncontested in November, when three four-year council seats are up for grabs. No candidates will appear on the primary ballot seeking nominations for a pair of unexpired two-year council seats.
"I just believe that — and not to sound like an old person, but I am — the younger people just aren't interested as we used to be," said Brandt, who wants to see younger residents run and get involved in the borough.
La Plume Twp. Supervisor Jeremy Wohlken was first asked to fill a vacancy and appointed to his position before running and winning in 2021.
"Was local government even on my radar? No," he said. "It wasn't until somebody said 'hey, can you pitch in here?' ... I don't know how much interest people have in local government. I can't answer that but, I don't know, maybe there's some apathy out there. I'm not sure what it is."
Wohlken said those who attend La Plume meetings tend to skew older, noting the township's small size and population. La Plume, about 2.4 square miles, has about 486 residents, according to the 2020 Census.
"On our last ballot we needed auditors. We had nobody and we were literally asking neighbors," he said. "When you start reaching out and asking people you tend to get a response that's positive."
Carr, the Newton Twp. supervisor, said it's about interest.
"It's hard to get people," he said.
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