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Schuylkill nomination petition challenges held

Republican Jerry Labooty won’t be a candidate for prothonotary in the upcoming primary election; his nomination petition did not survive a challenge from fellow candidate Dan Daub, who chairs the county’s Republican Party.

Three people had filed civil actions to set aside the nomination petitions of other candidates. Hearings on the matters were scheduled for Schuylkill County’s Court of Common Pleas, presided over by President Judge William E. Baldwin. Objections had been filed to the nomination petitions of candidates for prothonotary, register of wills/clerk of the orphan’s court, and clerk of courts.

Candidates for county office need to get 250 people to sign their nomination petition; the people who sign must be registered voters of the candidate’s party. Candidates could begin circulating petitions on Feb. 19 and had to file the petitions by March 12.

March 19 was the deadline for someone to file objections to the nomination petition; objections had to be filed with the Schuylkill County Election Bureau, the Prothonotary’s Office and the Court of Common Pleas.

At the request of Daub, who was representing himself, Election Bureau Director Frannie Brennan was sworn in. Daub then challenged signors’ names listed on Labooty’s 10 election petitions, going line by line as Brennan verified information. Signors who were “stricken” by Baldwin included those who weren’t registered Republicans, weren’t registered, and had incorrect addresses or names. Labooty’s signature total was 278, and 38 names were stricken, leaving him with 240 signors.

“You won’t be on the ballot,” Baldwin told Labooty. After the hearing, Labooty said that he wouldn’t rule out launching a run in the general election.

“I’m disappointed,” Labooty said. “But I have to wonder, how did Mr. Daub receive the information he had? As Republican Party Chairman, did he use that platform to get the information he needed to challenge?”

After the hearing, Daub presented a prepared statement on Baldwin’s ruling.

“During the course of routine petition review, I noticed some irregularities in his petitions,” Daub wrote. “A primary election is ultimately a competition, and making sure that all candidates follow the rules and are properly qualified to appear on the ballot is an important check and balance on our system.”

Lisa Montone, a Republican from Schuylkill Haven, filed an objection to the nomination petition of Republican Frank DiMarco, a candidate for register of wills/clerk of the orphans court. DiMarco is the police chief of Schuylkill Township.

Just before that hearing, attorney Christine Holman, former Schuylkill County District Attorney, told Baldwin that Montone’s objection had been withdrawn.

Clerk of Courts Maria Casey, a Republican, filed an objection to the nomination petition of Melissa Santai Clarke, a Republican candidate. Clarke, through her attorney Hank J. Clarke, has filed a petition seeking to dismiss Casey’s action “as untimely.”

According to the Motion to Dismiss filed by Clarke, Casey sent the objection to the election bureau “via county mail” on March 19; it was time-stamped at the election bureau at 3:55 p.m. March 20.

Baldwin dismissed Casey’s challenge as “invalid” due to her failure to file the paperwork by the required deadline.