Lebanon County has a new generation of Democratic candidates and campaign staffers, and they ran some pretty nice races this year. Of our 25 candidates, 18 had never run for office before. We fielded a diverse team and pretty well covered the county to the east, west, north, and south of the county as well as the city. Democrats were a presence, so much so that the opposition had to work harder than usual. Sadly they also saw fit to go negative. Our teams stuck with positive campaigns for which they can be proud.
In the retention election for Justice Debra Todd, Lebanon County came through with a 64.68% YES vote, joining other counties across the state in ensuring her return to the Supreme Court and her path to being the first female Chief Justice in the 300-year history of the court.
Our candidates were elected in five school districts: Natalie Duvall in Annville-Cleona; Bob Griffiths in Cornwall-Lebanon; Tracy Hayes in ELCO, Rachel Sekellick in Northern Lebanon; and Jeffrey Putt in Palmyra.
Allan Feldman was elected and Virginia Minnich re-elected to the Mt. Gretna Borough Council (now 3 Ds and 2 Rs). John Brenner and Richard Pflueger won re-election as West Lebanon Township Commissioners.
Others came heartbreakingly close – Amy Keller came within 110 votes of the incumbent on Lebanon City Council and Phil Stober got 46.25%, a mere 42 votes behind his opponent in West Cornwall Township. (results still unofficial).
Enthusiasm ran high among the young candidates in the city – Josh Brady, Amy Keller, Royal Marti, Erin Johnson and their more senior partner George Manderlink. There’s a bright future ahead for them and for the folks behind the scenes.
Matt Duvall in Annville, Anita Winer in North Cornwall, Patricia Stephens in South Annville, and Ann Gruber in Jackson rounded out the team, along with school board candidates Hazel Diaz, Jay Davis, Edward Gardener, and Leon Moll, providing respectable competition in their races and helping to build the future for Democrats in their areas. Two write-in candidates made sure their opponents didn’t get a free ride. Donald G. Smith in the Cleona Mayor’s race and Diana Carpenter in the race for Register of Wills/Clerk of Orphans Court.
Bottom line, we initiated a new cadre of candidates and volunteers. We forced Republican opponents to work for their wins and in some cases to go home empty. The Hispanic Initiative, the Campaign Committee, many individual committee members, and other volunteers spent uncounted hours working for our candidates and we are grateful for their work.
I personally think there were a lot of good life experiences out there on the campaign trail and motivation that will last beyond this one campaign. We are in this for the future.
Lois Herr, Chair, Lebanon County Democratic Committee
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