Empty chair

Shown is an empty seat in the Brockway Borough Council. The clock is ticking to get your name on the ballot.

BROCKWAY — Brockway Borough Councilman Lu Inzana was appointed to a vacant position when no one ran to fill that slot. That fact means he had to make a trip recently to the Jefferson County Courthouse to prepare to run for his spot.

As an appointed member, he needs to be on the ballot in the next municipal election to complete the term he was appointed to. Inzana will run for a two-year term, and if he chooses, he can then run for another four-year term.

An issue borough councils and other municipal bodies face is a lack of interested people.

“The kinds of people we want have jobs and kids, and their kids are usually involved in sports and after school activities,” Inzana said. “They just can’t put that time into their borough.”

Another area that keeps people off the ballots is a general lack of understanding of the process.

Inzana had to get forms from the Jefferson County Courthouse. The courthouse holds the forms for all elections in their county, so someone in DuBois would have to contact Clearfield, and someone in St. Marys would have to contact Elk, and so on. Those forms, once filled out, are part of a short window just to get on the primary ballot.

“You can start getting signatures February 19,” Inzana said. “Then you only have to the middle of March to get them all and file the petitions.”

For a borough council member, the petitioner needs to get 10 signatures from the borough. The number goes up based on the position being sought. For example, a county commissioner needs to get 100 signatures.

Even though Inzana needs 10 signatures, he will try to get 15 to be safe, should he decide he wants to run to complete the term.

“I tell people to get 15 signatures,” he said. “For example, if I go to get borough signatures, and someone from Snyder Township signs, then that can be challenged. If that signature is rejected, then I only have 9 signatures. I’m off the ballot. If you have 15, you have some extra room.”

The rules for running are outlined in the paperwork. Inzana said that the petitioner needs to pay attention to the form because there are spots that need to have notarized signatures.

Inzana said that if you decide in March that you want to run, it is too late to get on the primary ballot. However, camping out at polling places and convincing people to write you in is still an option. The best method is to be prepared ahead of time.

In addition, Inzana warned that the primaries are only available to registered Democrats or Republicans. Independents need to wait until the general election in November.

Despite the hyper-political bend of state and federal politics, Inzana said that the local elections are just for people who care about making a difference in their communities.

“If you truly want to serve and help, it really doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or Democrat,” he said. “We’re just here to get the job done.”

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