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Sites appears to have enough write-ins to be on ballot for Middletown council as Republican

Also, Democrat Willenbecher gets enough GOP support to be listed under both parties

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 6/5/19

Having received 26 write-in votes in the May 21 primary, former councilor Scott Sites has earned a spot on the November ballot for Middletown Borough Council if he wants it, according to unofficial …

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Sites appears to have enough write-ins to be on ballot for Middletown council as Republican

Also, Democrat Willenbecher gets enough GOP support to be listed under both parties

Posted

Having received 26 write-in votes in the May 21 primary, former councilor Scott Sites has earned a spot on the November ballot for Middletown Borough Council if he wants it, according to unofficial results approved by Dauphin County on May 29.

In addition, council member Ellen Willenbecher — who already will be on the ballot as a Democrat in November — earned 19 write-in votes in the Republican primary, meaning she could be on the ballot listed as a candidate for both parties, according to unofficial results.

This is important because it means that those Republican voters who elect to cast ballots for the straight party ticket would be voting for Willenbecher as well.

Results become official on June 5 when the county approves what is known as the second certification, after which the county will reach out to anyone who has earned a ballot position through write-in votes, to see if they will accept, according to Gerald Feaser, director of Elections & Voter Registration for Dauphin County.

Sites has said he will wait until being officially offered the position on the ballot before saying publicly whether he will accept. Sites, a Republican, served eight years on council before deciding not to run again in 2015.

Four seats are up this year on the seven-member council. Incumbent Robert Reid is not running for re-election, meaning council will have at least one new face in January.

On the Democratic ballot, incumbents Willenbecher, Council President Angela Lloyd and Council Vice President Mike Woodworth will all advance to three positions on the general election ballot in the fall.

According to the still unofficial results, newcomer Phyllis J. Dew will have the fourth position on the ballot. Dew beat fellow newcomer Erin Blake by just one vote — 142 to 141 — to claim the fourth spot.

The four Republican spots will be held by Richard Kluskiewicz and former Councilor David Rhen — both of whom were on the primary ballot — and, assuming the write-in results hold up and if they accept — Sites and Willenbecher.

Lloyd and Woodworth also received write-in votes from Republican voters in the primary — 18 for Lloyd and 15 for Woodworth.

Pennsylvania has a closed primary, meaning voters can only vote for candidates who are in the same political party under which they are registered. The only way around that in the primary is through a write-in vote.

Candidates need at least 10 write-in votes to get on the ballot. If Sites and Willenbecher accept, they will sew up the third and fourth Republican spots, leaving no available spots for Lloyd or Woodworth on the GOP side.

Willenbecher told the Press & Journal she is “grateful” for receiving the most votes on the Democratic ballot, and enough write-in votes from Republicans to also be on the GOP ballot in November, a spot she would accept when it is made official.

Willenbecher has been on council since December, when she was appointed to replace former President Damon Suglia, who resigned. But she is well known in the community through her involvement with Communities That Care and the Interfaith Housing Board.

“In my time on borough council, I haven’t found party affiliation too much of a factor in discussing issues and making the best decisions for Middletown,” she said. “Votes are expressions of trust and confidence that I take seriously. I am encouraged to run a campaign of listening and talking to all residents to win a council seat and be allowed to continue to serve. We have some challenging issues ahead, but together so much is possible.”

Sites acknowledged that before the primary he knew of a write-in campaign being run on his behalf. However, Sites told the Press & Journal he did not do any campaigning himself.

The Press & Journal May 28 was provided with a campaign flier paid for by the Dauphin County Leadership PAC.

The flier urged Republicans vote Sites in as a write-in candidate and provided instructions for how to cast a write-in vote for Sites in the primary.

“I was aware of people making an effort” to run a write-in campaign on his behalf, Sites told the Press & Journal on May 31.

However, Sites again said — as he told the Press & Journal earlier — that he did not expect to receive as many write-in votes as he did.

“I was shocked that I got that many,” he said.

Sites said if he does accept the nomination, “I would actively campaign” to win in the fall.