Unpacking Your Primary Ballot Questions
What the May 18 questions mean in plain English AND a sample of what races you'll see on your ballot
In addition to the dozen or so races you'll be voting on during this year's municipal primary election, voters will face four ballot questions. For registered independent voters, now is your chance to vote in an off-year primary! The first three questions move to amend the PA Constitution. The first two deal with disaster emergency declarations (something we all experienced in 2020) and the powers of the governor. These are by far the most polarizing questions along partisan lines. The third deals with denial based on race or ethnicity, and the fourth is a budget measure for fire and emergency services. While these questions require a simple yes or no answer, any experienced voter will know that the phrasing of these questions is anything but simple.
Ballot Question #1: Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law and increase the power of the General Assembly to unilaterally terminate or extend a disaster emergency declaration—and the powers of Commonwealth agencies to address the disaster regardless of its severity pursuant to that declaration—through passing a concurrent resolution by simple majority, thereby removing the existing check and balance of presenting a resolution to the Governor for approval or disapproval?
Ballot Question #2: Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law so that: a disaster emergency declaration will expire automatically after 21 days, regardless of the severity of the emergency, unless the General Assembly takes action to extend the disaster emergency; the Governor may not declare a new disaster emergency to respond to the dangers facing the Commonwealth unless the General Assembly passes a concurrent resolution; the General Assembly enacts new laws for disaster management?
Ballot Question #3: Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended by adding a new section providing that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of an individual's race or ethnicity?
Ballot Question #4: Do you favor expanding the use of the indebtedness authorized under the referendum for loans to volunteer fire companies, volunteer ambulance services and volunteer rescue squads under 35 PA.C.S. Section 7378.1 (related to referendum for additional indebtedness) to include loans to municipal fire departments or companies that provide services through paid personnel and emergency medical services companies for the purpose of establishing and modernizing facilities to house apparatus equipment, ambulances and rescue vehicles, and for purchasing apparatus equipment, ambulances and rescue vehicles, protective and communications equipment and any other accessory equipment necessary for the proper performance of the duties of the fire companies and emergency medical services companies?
If your eyes glazed over, awash with legalese, you're not alone. Both Republicans and Democrats have taken steps to inform their base on how they wish to see the votes go. PA Dems urge people to vote "No, No, Yes" on the first three measures. Organizations such as the PA Senate GOP push for "Yes" votes across the board. Searching online, it's much easier to find the Democrats' clearly worded stance than the GOP's. Perhaps that's for the simple fact that Pennsylvania has not rejected a ballot measure since 1993. Still, Republicans have pushed back, saying that the language of these measures set them up for failure. This of course, almost exclusively pertains to the first two measures. These two measures focus on the power of the state legislature to override declarations from the governor's office. Both parties — thankfully — are pushing for a "Yes" vote on the third question regarding race and ethnicity, one appearing in remarkably straightforward wording. Even with question four, It's hard to rally against loans for fire departments and emergency medical services, with neither side pushing against it. Know what you're getting into, read and reread each question before you go to the polls.
On Your Ballot
A partial list of who both parties will see on election day. Excluded from this list are many smaller municipal races. For an official list of candidates running, or to view your sample ballot by city, ward, and district, go to eriecountypa.gov.
Justice of the Supreme Court (Vote For One)
MARIA MCLAUGHLIN - PHILADELPHIA
PAULA PATRICK - PHILADELPHIA
KEVIN BROBSON - DAUPHIN
PATRICIA A MCCULLOUGH - ALLEGHENY
Judge of the Superior Court (Vote For One)
JILL BECK - ALLEGHENY
TIMIKA LANE - PHILADELPHIA
BRYAN NEFT - ALLEGHENY
MEGAN SULLIVAN - CHESTER
Judge of the Commonwealth Court (Vote For Not More Than Two)
DAVID LEE SPURGEON - ALLEGHENY
LORI A DUMAS - PHILADELPHIA
SIERRA STREET - PHILADELPHIA
AMANDA GREEN HAWKINS - ALLEGHENY
DREW CROMPTON - CUMBERLAND
STACY MARIE WALLACE - MCKEAN
Judge of the Court of Common Pleas 6th District (Vote For One)
MARSHALL PICCININI - ERIE
County Executive Four Year Term (Vote For One)
Sheriff Four Year Term (Vote For One)
ANTHONY J SANFILIPPO
Clerk of Records Four Year Term (Vote For One)
AUBREA HAGERTY HAYNES
KARLA L JEFFERY
EDWARD T DIMATTIO JR
County Council 2nd District Four Year Term (Vote For One)
County Council 4th District Four Year Term (Vote For One)
JULIA ANN CALIPO
ANGELA EUELL MCNAIR
KEVIN E PASTEWKA
TIMOTHY E. GOSTOMSKI
County Council 6th District Four Year Term (Vote For One)
SAMUEL CHARLES BAYLE IV
SCOTT R. RASTETTER
Mayor - City of Erie Four Year Term (Vote For One)
City Controller Four Year Term (Vote For One)
City Council Four Year Term (Vote For Not More Than Four)
MARCUS P YUILLE
ELSPETH KATE KOEHLE
MAURICE MO TROOP
School Director Erie School District Four Year Term (Vote For Not More Than Four)
TIMOTHY E GOSTOMSKI
AARON J LUNDBERG
TYWONN MR T TAYLOR SR