For the first time in decades, a Democrat has been elected to the Elizabethtown Borough Council, but the Democrat trying to oust a Republican incumbent was defeated. For school board, the two candidates who had the nomination of both major parties were elected along with two Republicans seeking four-year terms, defeating two candidates nominated by the Democrats alone.
Turnout was significantly higher than normal in the Elizabethtown area for the elections held Tuesday, Nov. 7.
In the First Ward, Democratic nominee Bill Troutman got more votes than Republican Chris Seitz and Green Party nominee Timothy Runkle for the seat now held by Republican C. Dale Treese, who did not seek re-election. Seitz got a late start in the campaign and did not file signatures in time to get her name on the primary election ballot; she got her party’s nomination with write-in votes. Troutman had 208 votes, or 53.7 percent; Seitz had 146 votes, or 37.7 percent; Runkle had 33 votes, or 8.5 percent. Runkle was also running for judge of election in the First Ward; he was unopposed for that position. The total number of votes cast for First Ward Borough Council was 387, more than 67 percent above the total of 231 cast two years earlier, when Republican Tom Shaud ran unopposed.
“What I’d like to do is thank all the other Democrats who were running with me. … I think all of us together earned this win,” Troutman said after his victory was apparent.
Troutman said he was also proud of how that three candidates chatted cordially at the polls.
“We were all friendly; we were not calling each other names and arguing,” Troutman said.
In the Second Ward, incumbent Republican Neil Ketchum got 205 votes, or 58.1 percent, to defeat Democratic challenger Mary Auker-Endres, who had 148 votes, or 41.9 percent. The total of 353 votes was more than 65 percent higher than the total of 213 votes cast for Second Ward Borough Council when Republican Jeff McCloud ran unopposed two years earlier.
“I am not at all disappointed in my campaign and I am very proud of all the work that we did and I am very proud of seeing Democrats surge forward in Elizabethtown,” Auker-Endres said. “And there is more to come from me; I am definitely not done being involved in the community and working to improve Elizabethtown.”
Elizabethtown Mayor Chuck Mummert, a Republican, was unopposed for re-election and got 1,054 votes; Republican Marc Hershey was unopposed for re-election to the Third Ward Elizabethtown Borough Council seat and got 511 votes.
For Elizabethtown Area school board, the two candidates who cross-filed to get the nominations of both major parties and the two nominated by the Republicans alone were elected, defeating the two who were nominated by the Democrats alone. Six candidates were running for the four four-year seats on the school board. Newcomer Erin Grosh, a Democrat cross-filing as a Republican, led all candidates with 3,930 votes. Incumbent Michelle J. Pelna, a Republican cross-filing as a Democrat, took second place with 3,840. Republican James Read was third with 2,612 votes, followed by Republican Menno E. Riggleman with 2,456 votes. The defeated candidates were Democrats Kelly Shaffer Fuddy with 1,769 votes and Andrew J. Esoldo with 1,569 votes.
There was also a race for a two-year seat on the Elizabethtown Area school board; Republican Michael Martin was unopposed and got 3,494 votes.
In West Donegal Township, Republicans Eric W. Kreider and John O. Yoder III were the only candidates on the ballot for township supervisor. Kreider, a newcomer, was elected to the board with 1,125 votes; Yoder, an incumbent, got 994 votes, but does not plan to serve because he was appointed township manager by the other supervisors at their meeting on Oct. 9. Randall O. Wenger, the chief clerk of the Lancaster County Board of Elections, said shortly after that appointment that it was too late for Yoder’s name to be taken off the ballot and although it was possible for someone to be elected with write-in votes, the person would have to get more write-in votes than Yoder got with his name on the ballot. The count of write-in votes is scheduled to begin on Monday, Nov. 13.
General election races for Donegal school board and for Mount Joy Township, Conoy Township, East Donegal Township, Marietta Borough and Mount Joy Borough were all uncontested.
Republicans have long dominated elections in Elizabethtown Borough. Before this year, the most recent time a Democrat attempted to get elected to the Borough Council was in 2007, when Democrat Lynn Williams ran in the Third Ward and was defeated by Republican Phil Clark. Historic election results in Lancaster County are only available online going back to 2010. The Elizabethtown Chronicle, a newspaper that went out of business in 2009, reported that a Democrat ran for mayor of Elizabethtown in 1989. Edward H. Emery was unopposed for the Democratic nomination and J. Bud Greiner won a three-way Republican primary for mayor that year; Greiner defeated Emery by a 4-to-1 margin in the general election.
A Democrat was elected to the Elizabethtown Borough Council in 1979. The Chronicle reported at the time that Roger Killian was the first Democrat to be elected to the Borough Council in many years; he got 376 votes to defeat Republican Lester Hitz, who had 318 votes. The microfilm records of the Chronicle from the general elections of 1981, 1983, 1985 and 1987 are missing from the library at Elizabethtown College, making it hard to determine if anyone other than a Republican had been elected in those years.
Troutman, however, said he has been voting in the borough since 1978 and he believed that Killian switched his party affiliation to Republican after being elected and that Republicans won all the borough elections of the 1980s.