A former Lebanon County educator is running an 11th-hour write-in campaign for the the state House seat representing the 101st district.

Dr. William Fenstermaker Sr. announced in a statement last week that he hopes to present an option for Democrats in the general election in November. Currently, incumbent Republican John Schlegel is running unopposed for the office.

To get on the ballot on Tuesday, Nov. 5, Fenstermaker needs to get at least 300 write-in votes in the primary election on April 23. In his statement, Fenstermaker asked registered Democrats in the 101st Legislative District to write his name on their ballot sheets, whether they mail them in advance or go to the polls on election day.

The 101st district includes Lebanon city, Cornwall Borough, and North Lebanon, South Lebanon, West Lebanon, North Cornwall, and West Cornwall townships.

According to the release, Fenstermaker worked as a principal in Northern Lebanon School District in the early 1980s and again in the early 2000s. He also worked as a teacher and administrator in other districts in both Lehigh and Lancaster counties.

He has lived in and raised his family in Lebanon County since 1982. After retiring from the public schools, he also worked at two local real estate offices.

Fenstermaker, 72, told LebTown his late entry into the race was, “to be entirely honest, a spur of the moment decision” after he became aware there was no one on the ballot for the Democrats.

“No matter what the position, it has always bothered me to see someone running unopposed,” he said in a telephone interview Monday. “That’s not the way things are meant to be.”

His only prior political experience was several for several years on the school board in Bethlehem Area School District, where he lived before moving to Lebanon County in 1982.

To date, Fenstermaker said, he hasn’t “had much time to think yet about plans for a campaign in the fall. … At this point, I am seeking to get my name on the ballot, so there’s a choice. … If I get over 300 people writing my name in, I’ll think about what kind of campaign I’ll run.”

It’s important, he said, because he is troubled by the direction the Republican Party “seems to be trying to take the country.”

“I think it’s wrong,” he said. “I would like to slow their progress. They’re steering the country in the wrong direction.”

Fenstermaker said he feels good about his chances of getting on the ballot, because there are local Democrats who “are doing a lot of work on behalf of this write-in campaign.” He said he’ll worry about his chances against Schlegel after April 23.

He added: “I don’t know my opponent very well. We worked together at Northern Lebanon High School years ago … but I don’t really know what he stands for. I’m not running against John, I’m running to get my name on the ballot.”

Formerly of Myerstown, he and his wife are residents of Cornwall Manor retirement community. He describes himself as “a proud and happy grandparent.”

“My wife and I are very dedicated to our family,” Fenstermaker said. “They are a high priority for us. So I want to do whatever I can to leave Pennsylvania and our country a little better off. That would be my main goal.”

Registered Democrat voters who want to get Fenstermaker on the November ballot can write his name as “William Fenstermaker Sr.” in the space under “Representative in the General Assembly – 101st District.”

The incumbent, Schlegel, won his first term in office in 2022, replacing former state Rep. Frank Ryan. He beat his Democratic challenger, Catherine “Cavi” Miller, with a 62% margin at the polls.

In January, Schlegel told LebTown then he was again running “to ensure that the 101st district continues to have a strong conservative voice in the state House of Representatives.”

Schlegel has been an administrator in both the Lebanon and Cornwall-Lebanon school districts and lives with his wife in Cornwall.

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Tom has been a professional journalist for nearly four decades. In his spare time, he plays fiddle with the Irish band Fire in the Glen, and he reviews music, books and movies for Rambles.NET. He lives with his wife, Michelle, and has four children: Vinnie, Molly, Annabelle and Wolf.


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