Despite this being an election without high-profile national or state contests, Lebanon County voters will still have many local races to decide on when they arrive at the polls on Nov. 2.

Ballots vary by municipality, with candidates for office ranging from tax collector to district attorney on some or all of them. Judge retention questions are on every ballot as well.

Christine Hartman, deputy head of the county’s Bureau of Elections and Voter Registration, told LebTown that no polling place locations have changed since the primary. The polls are open Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Countywide, President Judge John C. Tylwalk is seeking retention to the Lebanon County Court of Common Pleas for a 10-year term, and incumbent Pier Hess Graf is vying for a four-term as Lebanon County district attorney.

Graf, a Republican, is running unopposed. She’s been DA since January 2020, taking over for the late Dave Arnold after he won a special election to the state Senate.

For the office of register of wills and clerk of Orphans’ Court, incumbent Republican Brian Craig is facing off against Democratic challenger Kendra M. Moll for a second four-year term.

Lebanon city police Sgt. Jeffrie C. Marley Jr., a Republican, is unopposed for county sheriff.

At the municipal level, races for school director, mayor, township commissioner/supervisor, council, constable, judge of elections, inspector of elections, magisterial district judge, tax collector and auditor are on the ballot.

A number of the candidates are unopposed; other offices include no candidates at all, with the opportunity for voters to write in names.

One race where both parties are represented is Lebanon mayor. Incumbent Republican Sherry Capello is going for her fourth four-year term, against Democrat Cesar B. Liriano.
In addition, the contest for Palmyra Area School Board has drawn public and media attention, most recently because of a campaign mailer that went out to Democratic voters.

Ten candidates are competing for five contested seats, with the tax and spending direction of the body up for grabs.

School boards locally and around the country have also become battlegrounds over masking and other COVID-19 protocols.

Chris J. Dolan, a professor of politics and global studies at Lebanon Valley College, told LebTown that school board races could drive turnout to be heavier than normal for a nonpresidential, non-midterm election.

Locally, the big topic is education, he said. “Really everything else is secondary.”

And how schools are handling the pandemic – including masking policies – is a major issue for parents, said Dolan, director of LVC’s College for Political History.

COVID-19 has also “laid bare the struggles schools faced before the pandemic,” he said, such as finding money for needed building upgrades without unpopular tax increases.
Federal coronavirus relief money has helped, Dolan said, but that will eventually run out.

Pennsylvania court seats up for grabs

Statewide, three judicial races are on the ballot.

Democrat Maria McLaughlin and Republican Kevin Brobson are the major parties’ candidates for a 10-year term on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Democrat Timika Lane and Republican Megan Sullivan are vying for a 10-year term on the Superior Court.

Two Democrats – Lori A. Dumas and David Lee Spurgeon – and two Republicans – Stacy Marie Wallace and Drew Crompton – are seeking seats on Commonwealth Court. Voters can choose no more than two of the four to serve 10-year terms.

Voters will also be asked to vote yes or no on the retention of four judges: John T. Bender and Mary Jane Bowes on Superior Court and Anne Covey and Renee Cohn Jubelirer on Commonwealth Court. All terms are 10 years.

Hartman, of the Elections Bureau, said that 8,344 absentee and mail-in ballots have been sent out in Lebanon County. The last day to apply for one is Oct. 26.

They must be returned by 8 p.m. on Election Day, she said. Voters can hand deliver the ballots to the bureau, which is in the county courthouse, at 400 S. Eighth St., Lebanon, or place them in a drop box at the rear of the courthouse from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

If voters haven’t filled out their absentee or mail-in ballot and still want to vote, they should bring the ballot paperwork to the polls, Hartman said. If they turn that over to poll workers, they may vote by regular ballot.

If they don’t have the absentee or mail-order ballot package with them, she added, they may vote provisionally.

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Paula Wolf worked for 31 years as a general assignment reporter, sports columnist, and editorial writer for LNP Media. A graduate of Franklin & Marshall College, she is a lifetime resident of Lancaster County.