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7 candidates vying for 4 seats on Middletown council, including several newcomers

By Jason Maddux

jasonmaddux@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 3/12/19

The Middletown Borough Council has four seats open for the 2019 election, and there will be at least one new representative.

Robert Reid is not running in the May 21 primary after winning as a …

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7 candidates vying for 4 seats on Middletown council, including several newcomers

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The Middletown Borough Council has four seats open for the 2019 election, and there will be at least one new representative.

Robert Reid is not running in the May 21 primary after winning as a write-in candidate in 2015.

The other seats are held by council President Angela Lloyd, Vice President Mike Woodworth and Ellen Willenbecher. All three were appointed to their seats when other members resigned, and all three will be on the Democratic primary ballot in May, as will two newcomers, Phyllis Dew and Erin Blake. Attempts to reach Dew were not successful.

“I hope that the Middletown community has approved enough of what I've done during my past 11 months on council that in November they will elect me to continue to serve them through a four-year term,” Woodworth told the Press & Journal via email.

Two Republicans also have raised their hands to run. One is former council member David Rhen. The other is Richard Kluskiewicz.

Attempts to reach both were unsuccessful.

The deadline to turn in paperwork to Dauphin County Elections and Voter Registration was 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Barring any write-in candidacies or last-minute filings Tuesday, four of the five Democrats and the two Republicans on the ballot will advance to November’s general election because there are four seats open, so each party can nominate four candidates.

Willenbecher said when she went through her appointment interview last year, she told council she was interested in the community pool and the parks as well as doing something with recommendations council received from consulting architects in 2015 for how a “historic overlay” can help preserve history in Middletown.

Now, as a candidate, she said, she will be knocking on doors to talk to voters.

“I look forward to the campaign as a way to broaden my understanding of what the citizens think is important,” she told the Press & Journal. “I’ll probably find other issues that our citizens are interested in.”

She said after about 3 1/2 months on council, she is still learning.

“I have some great people to learn from, the staff and other councilors. I’m so happy to be a part of them, and I hope I can stay a part of them after November,” she said.

Diana McGlone resigned in March, followed by Ben Kapenstein stepping down from council May 1. Lloyd replaced McGlone, and Woodworth replaced Kapenstein. Willenbecher replaced Damon Suglia in December.

Rhen ran in 2017 for a four-year seat on council, finishing fourth with the top three candidates being elected. Jenny Miller had 990 votes, Dawn Knull received 784, and Ian Reddinger garnered 738. Rhen received 509 votes.

Rhen ran as a Republican for mayor in 2013, but was defeated by Robert Givler in the primary. Givler then lost to James H. Curry III.

Rhen also ran for council in 2015, for a four-year First Ward seat. Reid, running as a write-in, defeated him. The council seats are no longer divided by wards.

Rhen lost his council seat in 2013, in a close race in the Republican primary. Thomas Handley and Robert Louer defeated him.

Rhen served on council from 1981-85, and again from 1997-2004.

There are seven seats on the council. The other members are Dawn Knull, Ian Reddinger and Jenny Miller.