LGBTQ Activist, School Board Member Defeat Scranton Councilman
SCRANTON — LGBTQ activist Jessica Rothchild and Scranton School Board member Mark McAndrew won the Democratic primary for two City Council nominations, defeating incumbent Councilman Tim Perry and his running mate, Andy Chomko.
According to unofficial results, with all precincts in Scranton reporting, Rothchild topped the field with 4,020 votes (28%), while McAndrew also won with a second-place finish of 3,925 votes (27.3%). Chomko came in third place with 3,639 votes (25.3%), while Perry lagged with 2,787 votes (19.4%).
In a primary race happening as an FBI investigation involving Mayor Bill Courtright remains ongoing, Rothchild and McAndrew aligned politically with two sitting councilmen who have been vocal critics of the mayor, Bill Gaughan and Kyle Donahue.
While they ran individually, Rothchild and McAndrew each said the primary outcome shows that residents want change.
“Throughout my campaign, there was a lot of positive responses. I just had a sense that people were really wanting change,” she said. “They kept saying we need young people, fresh faces and new voices, and I said that’s what I could offer them.”
Along with potentially becoming the first lesbian on Scranton council, Rothchild also is a native of New Jersey. After earning bachelor and doctorate degrees from the University of Scranton, she chose to stay here. That outsider status also seems to have resonated with voters, she said.
“It definitely shows a change in the way of thinking here,” Rothchild said. “The first out lesbian, and the fact that I’m not from here also is really huge. I thought that would work against me, but people seemed to really like that. It was important that I wasn’t from here and stayed here after school.”
An anti-Courtright vote also played a part in the outcome, as Perry and Chomko were viewed as the candidates favored by the mayor. Rothchild and McAndrew didn’t have that connection, she said.
“The citizens of Scranton have spoken,” McAndrew said. “It looks like we’re going to restore some faith in government.”
With two of council’s five seats up for grabs this year, the primary likely would decide the makeup of council next year. The two winners now advance to the Nov. 5 general election. There were no Republicans in the primary. Councilman Wayne Evans, a Republican, did not seek reelection.
The winners of the general election will join Pat Rogan, Gaughan and Donahue, all Democrats, on council. Its members serve four-year terms and each earn $12,500 a year.
Meanwhile, in the Democratic primary for the party’s nomination to run for Scranton City Controller, candidate John Murray ran uncontested in his bid to replace retiring controller Roseann Novembrino. He garnered 5,637 votes. No Republican was on the primary ballot in the controller race for a four-year term. The controller salary is $40,000 a year.
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(Vote for not more than two)
Jessica Rothchild 4,020
Mark McAndrew 3,925
Andy Chomko 3,639
Tim Perry 2,787
(Vote for one)
John J. Murray 5,637