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It's Yaich versus Heffley

  • Justin Yaich
    Justin Yaich
Published May 19. 2010 05:00PM

In November, it's going to be Democrat Justin V. Yaich versus Republican Doyle Heffley for the seat being vacated by Pa. State Rep. Keith McCall in the 122nd District.

For the past 35 years a McCall has occupied the House seat. First, the late Thomas J. McCall served from 1975 until he died suddenly in December 1981. Then his son, Keith, won election after election to retain the seat from 1982 to the present.

Yaich, 30, was just 2 years old when Keith McCall won his first term. McCall was just 22 at the time.

Heffley challenged McCall two years ago for the seat, without success.

For the past year, McCall has served in the prestigious position of Speaker of the House. He announced earlier this year he is retiring and wouldn't seek re-election.

Five Democrats and two Republicans jockeyed for a position on the November ballot, with contrasting results occurring.

On the Democratic ticket, Yaich, president of Jim Thorpe Borough Council, won by a mere 41 votes over longtime Carbon County coroner Bruce Nalesnik. Both easily outpaced the other three candidates.

After all the ballots were counted, Yaich had a 47 vote lead with 150 absentee ballots still outstanding. After Kenneth Leffler, acting election director, counted the absentees, the final unofficial margin of victory was 41 votes.

For the Republican race, Heffley won easily over Todd D. Koller, getting 68.3 percent of his party's votes, while Koller got nearly 31 percent of the ballots.

Unofficial returns are:


• Justin Yaich, 2,033.

• Bruce A. Nalesnik, 1,992.

• Robert Frycklund, 769.

• John J. Wieczorek, 756.

• Jeffrey S. Bobish, 616.


• Doyle Heffley, 2,653.

• Todd D. Koller, 1,202.

Yaich celebrated his victory with an impromptu party at Molly Maguires Pub in Jim Thorpe which was attended by several Democratic leaders.

Heffley had a party at his Lower Towamensing Township residence which had a large turnout of supporters and party officials.

Both showed eagerness to get moving with their strategies for November.

Yaich said he would like to meet with Heffley before the politicking begins, and Heffley said he would welcome such a meeting.

Heffley said he is hoping to hold some debates with Yaich before the general election.

"It's been an exhausting day," said Yaich at his victory party. "I traveled the county all day," noting that he visited polling places in all corners of Carbon.

Yaich praised all his Democratic opponents but said of Nalesnik, "I felt he was the main competition, without a doubt. I had my doubts that I could beat him."

He credited all four of his fellow candidates with running a clean campaign.

"I think the type of campaign that was run is what Carbon County voters deserve," he said.

"I would consider them my friends," he said of the other Democratic candidates.

Yaich said he decided to run after hearing of the retirement of McCall.

"In my five years on the board in Jim Thorpe, I had the privilege to work with Keith. I learned a lot from Keith, not necessarily about the seat on the House of Representatives, but lessons he learned from his father. He always said his father taught him, 'You've got two ears and one mouth. Your ears will never get you in trouble.' Keith listened to the people," said Yaich.

"I'm looking forward to sitting down with Doyle first before the politics start," he remarked. "I feel he wouldn't be running if he didn't have the interest of the county at heart."

Yaich professionally is the director of planning for Washington Township, Lehigh County.

Heffley was obviously very happy with the election results.

"I thought we did very well," he said. "I was excited."

He said of Koller, "Todd's a good guy. He ran a good race."

Heffley, who is manager of two terminals for a trucking company, said his day was also very hectic yesterday. He said after taking his two daughters to school, he voted and then began visited various election precincts.

"I was out all day and visited just about every precinct in the county," he said.

He will now focusing on the November campaign.

"I congratulate Justin Yaich," Heffley remarked. "I'm looking forward to a vibrant campaign."

When told that Yaich would like to sit with him before the campaigning begins, Heffley said, "I'd like to talk to him."

He added, "I would like to set up debates."

He said he plans to "keep it a campaign strictly on the issues."

"People are looking for answers," said Heffley, adding that he feels the main issues are job creation, property tax reform and relief, and assurances that constituent services continue to be provided through district offices.

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