Jefferson County Residents Need to Plan Ahead to Be on the Ballot

BROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT) – Brockway Borough Councilman Lu Inzana made a trip to the Jefferson County Courthouse to get the forms he needs to run to keep his seat on the Brockway Borough Council.

Inzana was appointed to a vacant position when no one ran to fill that slot. 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.

Inzana feels that it’s the problem of family life that keeps people from serving.

“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. Most important on the list is the petition to get on the ballot in the first place.

“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.

“I think when Sam Smith ran for the legislature, he needed 300 signatures,” Inzana said. “You have to make sure every signature is eligible to be on that petition.”

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.

“If you run, you have to sign a spot and have that notarized,” he said. “Then you have to sign a line that says that you aren’t going to spend more than $250 on the election. If you are, then you need to have a finance manager and take other steps. You shouldn’t have to for the local elections. If you have someone going out to get the signatures for you, then they need to sign it and have that notarized.”

For many elections, the person canvassing the region has to be of the same party. However, for elections that are supposed to be apolitical – like school board – anyone can do it and the person can file as both a Republican or a Democrat.

“If you want to cross file, there are ways to get yourself on the ballot as both,” he said. “One way is to go to the polls and talk to people about who you are and what you want to do.”

The key to getting on the ballot, however, is getting your paperwork in order before February 19 and then hitting the March deadline.

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

Despite that fact, Inzana said that the community needs people who want to help out.

“You don’t want just anyone to run,” Inzana said. “You want people who want to be involved.”
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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