Voter turnout may have been light, but the impact of Tuesday’s election on Harrisburg could be huge, as challengers for the city school board swept the Democratic primary.
The four challengers on the reformist slate known as C.A.T.C.H. (Concerned About the Children of Harrisburg) were all victorious: Gerald Welch, Jayne Buchwach, Steven Williams and Doug Thompson Leader. Challenger James Thompson, a former member of the school board, also picked up a nomination for one of the five, four-year seats at stake.
All four incumbents lost, some by a lot. Lola Lawson, Ellis R. Roy, Lionel Gonzalez and Patricia Whitehead-Myers were all defeated, as were three other challengers–Lewis Butts Jr., Cory X. Williams and Ralph Rodriguez.
The victorious challengers had all run campaigns broadly critical of the current school board majority and the policies of the district administration led by Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney.
“This feels gratifying. It feels like mission accomplished,” said Buchwach, the top vote-getter for city school board. “But it’s not my win. It’s a win for Harrisburg, and that’s what feels great to me.”
Buchwach said that, once seated, the new board would have to get to work improving the district’s finances, bettering its academics and rebuilding trust with residents.
“We have to be transparent. We have to be accountable in everything we do,” she said. “We have to tell the citizens of Harrisburg, ‘This is what we will do and why.'”
No Republicans ran in the primary election for Harrisburg school board, meaning that tonight’s winners likely will prevail during the general election in November.
In the six-person race for Harrisburg City Council, incumbents Danielle Bowers, Westburn Majors and Dave Madsen easily won the nomination for three, four-year seats, defeating challengers Christina Kostelecky, Dionna Reeves and Brianna Smith.
No Republicans ran in the primary, meaning that tonight’s winners likely will secure seats during the general election in November.
In Dauphin County, incumbent commissioners Jeff Haste and Mike Pries ran unopposed for the two Republican nominations. On the Democratic side, incumbent George Hartwick won a spot on the November ballot, as did challenger Diane Bowman, prevailing over challenger Tom Connolly.
In the general election, voters will select three commissioners from the two Republican and two Democratic nominees.
For other county offices, all of the Republican incumbents had no competition in their primaries, so breezed to victory: District Attorney Fran Chardo, Sheriff Nick Chimienti, Clerk of Courts Dale Klein, Recorder of Deeds Jim Zugay, Treasurer Janis Creason, Controller Timothy DeFoor and Register of Wills/Clerk of Orphans’ Court Jean Marfizo King.
On the Democratic side, four candidates ran unopposed and therefore won their party’s nominations: Cole Goodman for Recorder of Deeds, Brad Koplinski for Clerk of Courts, Tim Butler for Treasurer and Bridget Whitley for Register of Wills/Clerk of Orphans’ Court.
The general election is slated for Nov. 5.