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April 8, 2013

Party leaders gear up for primary election season

EBENSBURG — The spring primary election May 21 may not be offering up big races such as president of the United States or governor of Pennsylvania, but Democratic and Republican leaders in Cambria County hope to motivate as many of their party members as possible to get out to the polls.

Three rallies and a picnic are planned by Cambria County Democratic leaders between now and a week prior to the election, Heath Long, chairman of the county Democratic committee, said.

A rally schedule for the Republicans has not yet been determined, but party officials are pushing to have an executive director in place weeks before the election, said newly elected chairman of the county Republican committee, Joe Slifko, who recently took over the top Republican position, replacing the late Ann Wilson.

The Democrats will not be endorsing candidates in the primary. But they will give any party candidate a chance to take his or her message to the party faithful at one of the four events scheduled to start next week through May 14, Long said.

“There will be no endorsements. We usually endorse for (Johnstown) City Council, but we don’t endorse for other races, so we’ve decided to leave that open,” Long said.

Petitions filed at the county election office show there will be nine Democratic candidates seeking five seats on council and mayor. No Republicans are running for any of the open seats.

Democratic voters will have a chance to hear the platforms of any party candidate in the county who wants to speak at the events, Long said.

While the race for Pennsylvania governor is a year away, many of those who have announced or hinted at possible candidacy for governor or lieutenant governor on the Democratic side are expected to show up at one of the Cambria County events, Long said.

“We’ve gotten a good response. Everyone who is in will be attending,” he said.

Advertisements began appearing Sunday in The Tribune-Democrat seeking resumes to fill the slot as executive director of the Cambria County Republican Party, Slifko said.

The party has been without an executive director since Andrew Patterson, who was working primarily on the Mitt Romney presidential campaign, resigned, Slifko said.

A search committee has been appointed and interviews will be held over the next couple of weeks, Slifko said, adding the GOP hopes to have a paid staff person in place at headquarters, 450 Luray Ave., Richland Township, around the first part of May.

“We’re still working on our events,” he said.

Considered an off-year election, the primary will focus on candidates seeking the party nomination for local officers, including city and borough councils, township supervisors and school boards.

Also on the spring ballot will be candidates for one state Superior Court seat, said Shirley Crowl, Cambria County director of elections.

Cambria County Sheriff Bob Kolar, a Democrat, has no opposition in the primary and no Republicans have filed, Crowl said.

The names of two Cambria County judges, Timothy Creany and Norman Krumenacker, will appear on the fall ballot seeking retention to another 10-year term, Crowl said.

Running unopposed are District Judge Mary Ann Zanghi of Vinco and District Judge Michael Musulin of Johnstown.

The election of a jury commissioner for each party will not be held until the November race, after Democratic and Republican chairmen provide names to appear on the ballot.

Crowl said party leaders have until August to submit those names.

“There’s a lot going on this year. Everything is local and that’s a pretty big deal,” she said.

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