Everything You’ll See On Your Municipal Ballot (And What It Means)
Election Day in Pennsylvania is Tuesday, November 7, and this year’s municipal election has focused heavily on the State College mayoral and Borough Council races. But these aren’t the only things you’ll be voting on when you step into the polling place.
Here’s what you can expect to see on your ballot (along with some guidance on what it all means):
Proposed Constitutional Amendment
I’m putting this one at the top because I think it’s the most confusing thing on the ballot. The wording on this amendment is incredibly difficult, especially for the average voter who hasn’t looked at it beforehand, but the Reader’s Digest version of this one is it basically takes away local property taxes (for primary residences).
Supporters of the amendment say the existing tax relief isn’t enough, but critics are concerned about where the money will come from if this revenue source — which funds public schools, among other things — is taken away.
Even if you’re a student and this doesn’t truly affect you yet, I sincerely hope you consider your opinion on this amendment before you enter the polling booth. To make the most informed decision, you should try to read up on this one a little more. I’d recommend this explainer from PennLive, for starters.
Justice of the Supreme Court
This one’s a statewide election for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the highest court in the Commonwealth. Terms last ten years, and you’ll vote for one candidate out of two options. (questionnaires from the PA Bar Association)
Judge of the Superior Court
The Superior Court is the intermediate level between the Commonwealth Court and the Supreme Court, so those elected will generally hear appeals from the Court of Common Pleas and appeals on cases involving children and families. Terms last ten years, and you can vote for up to four candidates from nine options. (questionnaires from the PA Bar Association)
- Maria McLaughlin (D) | Questionnaire
- Carolyn Nichols (D) | Questionnaire
- Debbie Kunselman (D) | Questionnaire
- Geoff Moulton (D) | Questionnaire
- Craig Stedman (R) | Questionnaire
- Emil Giordano (R) | Questionnaire
- Wade Kagarise (R) | Questionnaire
- Mary Murray (R)
- Jules Mermelstein (Green)
Judge of the Commonwealth Court
The Superior Court is the intermediate level between the Court of Common Pleas and the Superior Court, so those elected will generally handle matters involving government and regulatory agencies and trials where lawsuits are filed against the state. Terms last ten years, and you can vote for up to two candidates from four options. (questionnaires from the PA Bar Association)
- Ellen Ceisler (D) | Questionnaire
- Irene Clark (D) | Questionnaire
- Paul Lalley (R) | Questionnaire
- Christine Fizzano Cannon (R) | Questionnaire
Judge of the Court of Common Pleas
This one’s Centre County-specific, with the chance to vote for one of two candidates to become a judge (10-year term) for the Court of Common Pleas.
Also Centre County-specific, this one shouldn’t be too hard. There’s only one choice, unless you want to shoot your shot with a write-in.
- Bernie Cantorna (D/R) | Website
The two jury commissioners for Centre County serve four-year terms and oversee jury selection. Here you’ll vote for one of two candidates.
You’ve probably heard the most about this race — State College mayor. You’ll elect one candidate from three choices for a four-year term.
These five candidates are running for three open seats on the State College Borough Council. You’ll vote for up to three candidates to serve four-year terms.
- Evan Myers (D)
- Theresa Lafer (D)
- Dan Murphy (D/R)
- Lynn Herman (R)
- Richard Fitzgerald (R)
Most of these candidates don’t have official campaign pages online, but you should know Evan Myers and Theresa Lafer currently sit on Council. You can see how the candidates presented themselves in a debate a few weeks ago here.
School Director (State College School District)
This election is for the State College School Board — you can choose up to four candidates, and conveniently, there are four candidates on the ballot for four open seats. It’s virtually impossible to screw this one up. Please don’t prove us wrong.
- Lori Bedell (D/R)
- David Hutchinson (D/R)
- Jim Leous (D/R)
- Scott Fozerd (D/R)
Here you’re voting on whether current judges (or justices) should be retained for the next term. It’s a yes or no bubble, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble here.
Remember to vote in the local election on Tuesday, November 7. You can find your polling location here.