HARRISBURG — Today’s Pennsylvania general election is topped by a Supreme Court race and local races that could put new faces on a number of school and municipal boards, including Carlisle’s.
An appointed justice, Republican Sallie Mundy, is looking to keep her seat for a full 10-year term. Her opponent is Democrat Dwayne Woodruff, a former Pittsburgh Steeler who’s now an Allegheny County judge.
It’s an odd-numbered year, which means fewer races and lower turnout for Tuesday’s election.
But four seats on the Superior Court are also being contested. A ballot question asks whether the Legislature should have the authority to let counties, municipalities and school districts exclude up to the full value of residents’ homes from taxation.
Voters will also select candidates for a number of local races.
Polls open across the state at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.
Voters in Cumberland County can get a sample ballot on the county website.
Voters may also find their polling place location on the county website at www.ccpa.net. Polling place locations also ran in the Nov. 1 edition of The Sentinel.
People voting for the first time in their precincts will be required to show some form of acceptable photo or nonphoto identification to vote. Acceptable photo IDs are: a valid Pennsylvania Driver’s License or ID card issued by PennDOT; ID issued by any Commonwealth of Pennsylvania agency; U.S. passport; U.S. armed forces ID; a student ID; or an employee ID. Acceptable nonphoto identification (must include your name and address) are: Voter identification card issued by the county; nonphoto ID issued by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the U.S. government; firearm permit, current bank statement, current utility bill, current paycheck or government check.
The Sentinel published candidate capsules for Cumberland County elections in its Saturday and Monday editions. Those capsules can be read online at cumberlink.com.
The Sentinel’s election coverage will begin online after polls close across the county at 8 p.m. Follow cumberlink.com to track local election results or pick up Wednesday’s edition of the newspaper.
There is one Supreme Court seat up for election this year. It is held on an interim basis by Republican Sallie Mundy, who is on the ballot. Democrat Dwayne Woodruff, an Allegheny County family division judge and former Pittsburgh Steeler, is challenging. The court’s seven justices not only decide some of the state’s most consequential cases but also oversee the administration of lower courts and make appointments to various boards and agencies, including the Judicial Conduct Board and Court of Judicial Discipline.
Four Democrats, four Republicans and one Green Party candidate are in the running for the four open positions in the Superior Court, which consists of 15 judges who hear appeals from the Courts of Common Pleas in most criminal and civil cases, as well as in family law matters.
The Republican Superior Court candidates are: Emil Giordano, a judge on the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County; Wade A. Kagarise, a judge on the Court of Common Pleas of Blair County; Mary Murray, a magisterial district judge in Allegheny County; and Craig Stedman, district attorney of Lancaster County. The Democrats running for Superior Court are: Deborah Kunselman, a judge on the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County; Maria McLaughlin, a judge on the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia; Geoff Moulton of Montgomery County, who is serving on the Superior Court after being appointed in 2016; and Carolyn H. Nichols, a judge on the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia.The Green Party candidate is Jules Mermelstein. He is a Montgomery County attorney and has served as an Upper Dublin Township commissioner.
The race for two open seats on the state’s Commonwealth Court involves four candidates — two Democrats who survived a crowded May primary and two Republicans who coasted into the November contest unopposed.
The nine-member court has initial jurisdiction in cases involving state government, including litigation against agencies such as the state police, Department of Corrections and Department of Human Services. It also hears appeals of government-related cases that originated in county courts — such as residents’ appeals of zoning, eminent domain and right-to-know rulings. The top two vote-getters Nov. 7 will serve 10-year terms on a panel that currently leans Republican, 6-1.
The Democratic candidates are Ellen Ceisler, a judge on the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, and Irene McLaughlin Clark, a former judge on the Pittsburgh Municipal Court. The Republicans are Christine Fizzano Cannon, a judge on the Delaware County Common Pleas Court, and Paul Lalley, an attorney from Allegheny County.
There is also a ballot question that will ask voters whether local taxing authorities should be able to exempt residents from paying property taxes on their homes. Nothing would change immediately if the ballot question passed in November. But school districts, counties, and municipalities would have the option to exempt taxpayers’ primary residences from property taxes.
Commercial and industrial properties would still be taxed if a local government or school district enacted the exemption. Although it’s unlikely that the exemption would be used anywhere until replacement revenue sources were found, advocates for property tax reform say the measure would be a significant step in implementing broader changes.
Carlisle resident Brittany Crampsie was a college student at Lehigh University, trying to figure out what she wanted to study less than a decade ago.
Now, she’s the press secretary for Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, and a senior communications adviser to the rest of the Senate Democratic caucus.
The change comes after several years in public affairs consulting. While consulting, she was the Democratic political analyst for ABC27’s “This Week in Pennsylvania.”
Prior to making the jump into public relations, she was the managing editor of PoliticsPA.com, an insiders blog on the electoral and legislative happenings of the state. During her tenure, the pseudonym for the editor, Sy Snyder, was named to the Washington Post’s list of best statehouse reporters.
Inspired by the 2008 election, Crampsie decided to major in political science with minors in philosophy and mass communications, graduating summa cum laude and becoming a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She earned a Master of Arts in politics and policy, also from Lehigh University, in 12 months as a Presidential Scholar.
She’s won Central Penn Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, City & State’s “40 Under 40” and PoliticsPA’s “30 Under 30” awards. She is a board member of the United Way of Pennsylvania and an alumni admissions ambassador for her alma mater.
I am the press secretary for Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, and a senior communications adviser to the rest of the Senate Democratic caucus. I field press inquiries, coordinate media appearances and design strategies for communicating our legislation, goals and positions on a really wide variety of topics. A day can include anything from drafting remarks for Sen. Costa to deliver on the floor, to creating social media content for members, to planning a full-blown press event in the Capitol. The work itself varies greatly, and the subject matter varies even more so.
A. I was figuring out what I wanted to study in college during the 2008 presidential election, which was transformative in the way that candidates, particularly soon-to-be-President Obama, communicated with young people. I’d always been passionate about reading and writing, but I hadn’t really been inspired by any one topic. The more I followed that election, the more I figured out what I believed politically, and by the time Obama became president, I had decided that I would be a political science major.
There aren’t many fields where you can have the breadth of impact on people’s’ lives, and it’s an incredible honor to get to work so closely to policy that I believe can drastically improve the quality of life for many people.
A. Like most people who work in public relations, I actually started in journalism. When I was in graduate school, I worked nights covering municipal government for my local TV station; and after I graduated, I was the managing editor for PoliticsPA.com. There’s no better crash course in writing than working in journalism. You learn to cut out a lot of the frills and get to a point quickly and clearly. There are, of course, a lot of downsides to online comment sections, but they do provide some instant feedback on what normal readers like and don’t like about your writing.
After journalism, I worked in public affairs consulting, which helped me learn a lot of state policy issues on a deeper level than writing one or two stories on something. There’s a great Otto Von Bismarck quote: “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” You see a lot of the sausage-making when you’re a reporter; you see a lot more when you’re closer to the process itself.
A. I’d love to work on an increase to the minimum wage (Pennsylvania is way behind our neighbors in doing this), strengthening our social safety nets, especially when it comes to health care, increasing state funding to basic and higher education, creating a statewide mandate for paid family leave, and looking for common-sense, common-ground legislation to stop gun violence.
A. I can understand feeling disenchanted and disenfranchised, but some of the greatest turning points in American history have come at times like this: the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the women’s suffrage movement, the civil rights movement. No major improvement to our social or economic policy has come from a time when everyone was agreeing. There’s every reason to be hopeful and to stay involved.
There are two things that keep me hopeful about American government, even when it seems incredibly bleak:
1) Aaron Burr was the sitting vice president when he shot Alexander Hamilton, a former Treasury secretary. Things are not nearly that bad now.
2) In the preamble to the Constitution, the founders wrote that they were establishing this government to “form a more perfect union.” I like to think of “perfect” as a verb. We are always looking for ways to govern better, to perfect the process. We weren’t perfect to start, we aren’t perfect now, but it’s a constant push to be more perfect.
Cumberland County’s proposed 2018 budget is now available for public review, ahead of the county commissioners’ final vote on the fiscal plan on Dec. 4.
The county’s property tax rate is expected to be unchanged from the 2017 rate of 2.361 mills, which includes the 2.195 mill general tax rate as well as the .166 mill library tax add-on. Tax millage is dollars owed per $1,000 of assessed value, meaning a $100,000 home would be billed $236.10 in county property tax.
The calendar-year budget provides an estimated balance sheet for the county’s general fund, with a total expense projection for 2018 of $84.3 million. Of this, $52.7 million, or about 62.5 percent, is supported by property taxes.
The county’s total costs in a given year are much higher, around $240 million, when one includes agencies and program funds that are state-supported and booked outside of the general fund on a July-to-June fiscal year basis.
The 2018 general fund budget is about $3.1 million more than the 2017 budget, which is projected at $81.2 million. The largest increase is a $1 million hike in full-time salary costs.
The county also announced Monday that it will allocate $500,000 to farmland preservation for 2018, continuing the doubling of funding that began in 2017. Prior to that, general fund inflow to the farmland preservation program had been $250,000 per year.
As occurred last year, Commissioners Vince DiFilippo and Jim Hertzler voted for the heightened farmland preservation funding, with Commissioner Gary Eichelberger opposed. Eichelberger has expressed his dismay that the county does not yet have a long-term funding schedule in place for the farmland program and its potential burden on the general fund.
Farmland preservation programs are used in many Pennsylvania counties to incentivize agriculture. The programs pay farmers for easements over their lands, which restrict its use to agriculture, barring any further development and giving the farmers a cash boost.
Along with state funding, much of which comes from the Marcellus Shale severance tax, Cumberland County finances the preservation of approximately 900 to 1,000 acres of farmland per year.
The budget proposal can be viewed online at www.ccpa.net/2680/Budget.
Carlisle High School received a $700,000 grant Tuesday from the Department of Defense to reinforce the opportunities offered by its advanced placement courses in math, science and English.
The grant was in recognition of the support the school gives to the children of military families assigned to Carlisle Barracks and the Army War College.
“Each year, Carlisle Area School District goes above and beyond in support of the educational transitions of our military family members,” said Kristy Cormier, school liaison officer for the post.
The War College draws about 385 senior military leaders, their spouses and children to Carlisle for a 10-month graduate-level course in strategic studies. This includes International Fellows from countries friendly to the U.S.
Carlisle was selected as one of the national recipients of a grant arranged through the National Math + Science Initiative and the College Readiness Program of the Military Families Mission.
The three-year $700,000 grant will benefit all the Carlisle High School students who commit themselves to AP courses in the three subject areas, said Marcus Lingenfelter, senior vice president for advance payment with NMSI.
He said most of the money will be used to train teachers how to reach students who just need some extra help to take on the academic rigor of AP courses.
The training consists of professional development classes offered during the summer, Lingenfelter said. He said three workshops for each AP course are offered during the academic year where the students along with their teachers learn tailored lessons delivered by a trainer.
Nationwide only the top 5 percent of high school juniors and seniors enroll in AP courses, according to Lingenfelter. One goal of NMSI is to expand the opportunity into a deeper pool of students interested in pursuing a career in STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
AP English courses are included because competency in reading and writing is the core of any discipline, said Lingenfelter, who challenged an audience of over 200 AP students to take advantage of what the grant has to offer Carlisle High School.
“You are the fuel to drive the engine,” he told students. “The country needs you. You’re the generation that’s going to step foot on Mars. Silicon Valley needs you to invent the next big thing. None of this happens without a very select group of people who have the ability to transform lives and make our future possible.”
Research has shown a direct connection between enhanced achievement in math and science and in providing greater resources and support to classroom teachers, Lingenfelter said. He added part of the grant will be used to purchase supplies and technology for teachers to improve hands-on instruction.
For the next three years, Carlisle students will receive $100 for each AP exam they take in math, science or English, Lingenfelter said. “This money is going to you in recognition of your hard work and achievement.”
Becca Winton, a junior enrolled in AP English and AP Biology, said the grant is wonderful because it helps students who normally could not afford to take the exam. “It encourages me to take a lot more AP courses.”
“Now we have options we didn’t have before,” said Caleb Richwine, a junior taking AP Calculus and AP Statistics. “It’s really generous and great that they are doing this.”
Over the years senior Jeff Estes has seen the district put a lot of money into athletics. He called the $700,000 grant a significant amount of money to invest in academic achievement with long-term benefits.
“It all makes sense,” Estes said. “They need qualified students starting in high school.”
STEM is the future of workforce development, said Bob DeSousa, state director for U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey. “There are jobs in the market that are screaming for people that have STEM,” he told students. “Keep on that path and your future is very bright.”
James Breckinridge, provost of the Army War College, compared the current push in science and technology to the space race of the 1960s when the U.S. was reaching for the moon.
“I congratulate you on your energy and commitment to what is absolutely important to the future of this nation,” Breckinridge told the Carlisle AP students.
Acting Superintendent Christina Spielbauer thanked the War College, Carlisle Barracks and the NMSI. “Without their support, we would not be able to provide this amazing opportunity for all of you,” she told the students.
Carlisle High School is one of 1,200 NMSI program sites developed across 34 states over the past 10 years, Lingenfelter said. The groundwork for the local program started about two years ago when NMSI approached the school district, Carlisle Barracks and the school liaison officer.
While Tuesday was the official presentation of the $700,000 grant, money from that donation has already been used to fund training sessions this summer, workshops during the first few months and the first-year round of supplies and equipment purchases.
The grant will continue through the rest of 2017-18 and into 2018-19 and 2019-20.