LAWRENCE COUNTY 31 compete for spots on panel

Those wanting to be on the study commission are from several communities and have varied backgrounds.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Lawrence County elections officials say they have never had more than 20 people running for one office in an election -- until now.
Petitions from 31 people wanting to be part of the nine-member government study commission were turned into the county elections office this week.
Marlene Gabriel, county elections director, said this is probably the highest number of people ever seeking one office in the county. At the most there have been 20 people seeking positions on a school board or to be delegates for a presidential election, she said.
Election workers are verifying the petitions and they will be certified Tuesday. Anyone wanting to challenge a petition must contact the election bureau before then, Gabriel said.
The study commission and a referendum creating the study commission will be on the November ballot.
Voters' decision: Voters will first decide if they want to convene a study commission that will look at alternative ways to organize county government. They must then choose nine people to sit on the commission.
If the referendum passes, the commission will have nine months to study other forms of government and make a recommendation to voters for the next election.
Fearing that there would be few people on the ballot, Lawrence County commissioners sent letters last week to all registered voters urging them to take part.
Commissioner Roger DeCarbo had said that he was hoping there would be people from different sections of the county on the ballot.
Areas represented: The commissioner's letter appears to have worked, attracting candidates from New Wilmington, Ellwood City, Volant, New Castle and Neshannock, Hickory, New Beaver and Scott townships.
And those who want to be on the commission come from varied backgrounds that include an attorney, an electrician, a couple members of the clergy, a truck driver, a funeral director, a fire chief and several retirees.
Gabriel credits the letter sent by commissioners for attracting the large, varied group of candidates. She said her office received many telephone calls from people who received the letter and wanted to know more about the study and how to participate.
Gabriel noted this year's attempt to attract candidates to run for a government study commission is more successful than the last time voters were faced with the decision.
There were only seven people seeking spots on a nine-member commission that would have studied other forms of government for the city of New Castle, she said. Voters voted down that 1997 issue.

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