The Republican candidates for several local offices spoke to a crowded multi-purpose room at the Bradford Area Public Library Wednesday evening.
Each candidate was given four minutes to provide a brief biography and the reason the candidate is the best choice for the position for which they are running. Numbers were drawn to determine the speaking order for multiple candidates for the same office.
McKean County District Attorney Stephanie Vettenburg-Shaffer and her opposition for the office in the Republican primary election on Tuesday, chief public defender Phil Clabaugh, were both in attendance. Both gave succinct statements that allowed both to finish speaking before their allotted time was up.
Vettenburg-Shaffer spoke first, noting her decision to run for office in 2015 was to improve “unacceptable” results at the time, when six out of 10 individuals were found not guilty of the the most serious charges in McKean County in 2014.
Vettenburg-Shaffer noted that her efforts in office have led to improvement, since her personal trial conviction rate is 88 percent, while the rate for the district attorney’s office as a whole is at nearly 80 percent.
Vettenburg-Shaffer noted that “great police work” is also important to successful convictions.
She mentioned the convictions of Paul Morrisroe; James Fowler, the first methamphetamine lab conviction during the “epidemic of cases in 2018” and also the first drug delivery resulting in death conviction as notable cases that her office has handled during her time in the role of DA.
Vettenburg-Shaffer noted that the experience of handling these lengthy and difficult felony trials is paramount to getting the job done, without outside influence, and expressed doubt that her opponent has the same level of experience.
She stated she “has the ability and experience and will protect the residents of McKean County and their families” before thanking those in attendance.
Clabaugh noted that during his time as assistant district attorney for McKean County he volunteered to handle some of the most difficult cases — those involving sexual assault against a child victim. Clabaugh noted these are the victims that need help the most.
He noted that he does weigh pursuing criminal case based on whether a conviction is likely, as that approach allows “dozens of cases to go uncharged.” He cited the statistic of “nearly 80 cases” in the county in an unspecified amount of time that have passed the point of no plea submitted, when the individual charged wants to see the case go to trial and yet it does not reach that stage.
Clabaugh noted he is not “pushy” and does not like to interrupt people as they go about their day. However, he said he was overwhelmed by the show of support from those in attendance Wednesday evening and hoped to see voters show how they prefer to see the office run — whether “justice will be valued over politics” or if residents are “happy with the way things are going now.”
ACTING MCKEAN COUNTY Treasurer Sherri Swanson and her opposition in the GOP primary, Melissa Jo Smith, were both in attendance Wednesday.
Swanson noted she has worked as both first and second deputy for the McKean County treasurer prior to being named to the position in November 2018, when former McKean County Treasurer Mary Jo Sherwood resigned. Swanson believes she has experience with all functions of the treasurer’s office, making her well-suited to the protection of taxpayer funds — “the most important task the office has to perform.”
Swanson noted she is frugal with tax dollars and accounts for any and all received. She believes she works within budget and gets the job done correctly.
Smith, who currently holds the position of Keating Township treasurer, noted that she has helped to cut unnecessary expenses for the township and would employ her experience to help facilitate the same efforts for the county. She also noted she would like to see the website for the county improved to offer more information regarding hunting and fishing licenses and would work with the IT department to see that change occur.
Smith noted she has a deep commitment to public service and 18 years of strong management skills to put to use for the office of treasurer.
MCKEAN COUNTY COMMISSIONER Carol Duffy was on hand to speak regarding her experience and dedication to the job, while opposing candidates Tom Kreiner and Brett Morgan shared specifics on what they would hope to achieve should they be voted into office.
Two of the three will receive Republican nominations to advance to the fall election.
Kreiner’s focus was service to the office as a full-time endeavor. He noted that communication is key and effective listening goes a long way toward success in serving constituents and county residents. He also discussed big issues to the county, including keeping jobs in the area, providing the best health insurance coverage at the lowest possible cost to county employees and ensuring the county jail remains compliant with laws while continuing to be a revenue source.
Duffy noted her years of service and efforts to be an advocate for the county are shown through her work with a county commissioner task force in Harrisburg that makes sure veterans’ needs are addressed, her work to help create a successful program at the local career center for first-responder training to address the decreasing numbers of first responders in the county and also the importance of funding to improve broadband connection for the county, which is essential.
For Morgan, the Mount Jewett borough president, “service is a passion.” He was elected to the borough council at the age of 18 — the second youngest elected official in the state of Pennsylvania. His hope is to make McKean County somewhere his children want to come back to because the county has something for them. His goal is to keep the budget lean and nimble to allow the county to remain competitive with other counties.
McKean County Coroner Michael Cahill was called away to handle the duties of his office, but a representative requested the audience consider Cahill’s years of service and his experience in handling the tasks required.
His opposition, Michael Mascho, spoke on his service to the community as the owner of Mascho Funeral Home, his willingness to “do a job that no one wants to do” and his focus on the future. Noting that most area funeral home directors are not interested in holding the position of coroner, Mascho introduced the idea of a centralized facility for use to secure those who have no family or those who are a focus of an investigation and deserve to be held in a safe and dignified location, in the event that in the future a funeral director is not the person to hold the office of coroner and appropriate facilities are not available otherwise.
BRADFORD TOWNSHIP Supervisor candidates Laree Sue Behan, Mark Cline and Robert Burrell each provided a brief perspective on their potential to serve the residents of the township.
Behan cited the repair of roads and bridges and addressing the blight issue in the township as her primary focus if elected to the office. She noted she is not part of a “buddy system” and has years of life experience as a business owner that would translate well for her as a township supervisor.
Burrell hopes to see complete transparency, noting that a buffer between the two acting supervisors seems needed — and he would be a good choice for that task. He also noted he is a go-getter, a doer and not a sidestepper, hoping his honesty would be the key to his election to office.
Cline rounded out the trio, speaking on his ability to represent those who are hesitant to speak on their own. Cline noted he is the President of the Pennsylvania Independent Petroleum Producers and the Vice-Chair of an Oil and Gas Advisory Committee in Harrisburg - both positions which require him to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.
COUNTY RECORDER OF DEEDS Ann Bosworth discussed her years of service in the office since her election in 1995, her responsibility to permanently keep the records of all properties within the county and also the handling of the office’s newest task as a passport acceptance facility — a new revenue source and also an additional resource for county residents who need to apply for passports.
Stephanie Scrivo, one of the candidates for Bradford School Board director, discussed her desire to give back and be an asset for the community at large. She noted that she has three children who attend Bradford schools. While she does not feel there are any bad choices for the position of school director, she feels the move to add new directors to the board is a move to support change and progress, as it provides new ideas.
Tim Pecora, current Bradford City Council member, spoke on his bid for city treasurer, noting that the city needs a treasurer that can “fully perform the duties of the office of treasurer,” something he maintains is not the case currently.
Pecora stated that, if voted into office, he will “aggressively enforce revenue streams required by state law and always be accessible.”
He noted that, were he to be elected, he would step down from city council in order to provide his full attention to the office of treasurer.