A few local races will be in spotlight come November

As autumn draws near and school has started, the Nov. 7 general election is less than eight weeks away.

Voters around the tri-county area will head to the polls that day to cast their ballots for county commissioner seats, numerous other county and municipal offices, and school boards positions.

State court races will also be on the ballots.

In Venango County, both Common Pleas judge seats are up for election as former judges Oliver Lobaugh and Robert Boyer retired within the last couple of years.

Former Venango County district attorney Marie Veon, who has been serving as president judge since late 2021, chose not to seek election.

As a result, four candidates ran on both party tickets in the spring primary, and current district judge Matthew Kirtland and current assistant district attorney Justin Fleeger were the two nominees for the 10-year posts on each ticket.

So those two are facing no ballot opposition for the judicial jobs in November.

Elsewhere in Venango County, two Republicans and two Democrats are running for the three county commissioner seats.

The Republican candidates are incumbent Sam Breene of Oil City, who is seeking a second term, and newcomer Ken Bryan of Utica.

On the Democrat side are incumbent Albert Abramovic of Utica, who is running for his third term, and newcomer Mathew Beith of Franklin.

The third current commissioner — Republican Mike Dulaney — chose not to seek re-election.

Two other incumbent Republican row officers in the county — treasurer Jeannie Ritchey and prothonotary Lana Linden — aren’t facing any ballot opposition in November.

And incumbent district judge Patrick Lowrey is also unopposed for a third six-year term. His office is on Route 257 in Seneca.

There is an interesting race for mayor in Oil City.

Nick Moran, a current Oil City Council member, captured the GOP nomination in the spring, and John Kluck, an Oil City teacher and chairman of the Venango County Democratic Party, emerged as the Democratic nominee.

Then last week, current mayor Bill Moon, a Republican, announced he has launched a write-in campaign to secure another term. Moon ran for county commissioner in the spring but lost on the GOP ticket to Breene and Bryan.

Three candidates were nominated for Oil City Council in the primary and will face off in November for two seats. They are Democrats Michael Walentosky and Hillary Wisniewski and Republican Matthew Craig.

The seats up for election are currently held by Walentosky and Ron Gustafson. Gustafson, a longtime councilman, chose not to seek re-election.

In Franklin, three candidates are unopposed for city council seats. They are Republican incumbent Donna Fletcher in Ward 1, Democrat Ashley Smith in Ward 2 and Republican incumbent Todd Zahner in Ward 3.

Republican Ryan Rudegeair, the current Ward 2 councilman, was not on the primary ballot and will not be on the ballot in the fall.

There will be contested races for Oil City and Franklin school boards in November, while Cranberry and Valley Grove will have the same number of listed candidates as openings on the boards.

Clarion County

In Clarion County, two Republicans and two Democrats are vying for the three county commissioner seats.

On the Republican side are two incumbents, Wayne Brosius and Ted Tharan.

And running on the Democratic ticket are newcomers Braxton White and Daniel Carey. Incumbent Democrat Ed Heasley did not seek re-election.

In a bit of recent election drama, Clarion County Judge Sara Seidle-Patton earlier this month sustained challenges filed against Independent Andy Montana, who wanted to be listed on the ballot for both county commissioner and Clarion Borough Council.

The judge sided with the challengers who claimed there were errors in Montana’s nomination papers.

Elsewhere in Clarion County, four Republicans are unopposed for row officer positions.

Three are incumbents — district attorney Drew Welsh, prothonotary Jeff Himes and treasurer Karyn Montana. The fourth, Rebekah Weckerly, is seeking to replace longtime register and recorder Greg Mortimer, who is retiring.

Forest County

There are no contested countywide races in Forest County heading into the general election.

Two incumbents and a Green Township supervisor will be on the ballot for county commissioner.

The incumbents are Republican Mark Kingston and Democrat Robert Snyder Jr. They will be joined by Patrick Kline, the Green Township supervisor who captured the second GOP nomination in the primary.

No Democrats other than Snyder were on the primary ballot.

Longtime commissioner Basil Huffman, a Republican, retired at the end of 2022, and Norm Wimer, a former county commissioner and current county coroner, was appointed to fill the remaining year of Huffman’s term.

Wimer is not seeking election as a commissioner.

Elsewhere in Forest County, several row office incumbents will face no ballot opposition in November.

They include coroner Wimer, a Republican; district attorney Alyce Busch, a Democrat; and treasurer Stacey Barnes, a Republican.

Wimer has served as coroner since 2003. Busch and Barnes are both seeking a second term.

Republican Miriah TKach is running unopposed for the prothonotary, register, recorder and clerk of courts post.

TKach was appointed to the positions at the end of April when Dawn Millin, who held those jobs, retired. TKach had previously been the deputy in those positions.

Oct. 23 is the last day to register to vote before the November election. And Oct. 31 is the last day to apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot.