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Hearing set in Monroeville election confusion case

August 4, 2018

Monroeville Municipal Center

A judge will attempt to clear up confusion caused when an unnamed Monroeville Ward 2 council seat appeared on primary election ballots.

A hearing regarding the matter between the Municipality of Monroeville and the Allegheny County Elections Bureau will happen at 10 a.m. Aug. 16, in courtroom 7 of the Pittsburgh City-County Building, 414 Grant St., before Judge Joseph James.

The seat in question is currently held by Eric Poach, a Democrat, who was appointed by Monroeville council in January to fill a vacancy created when former Ward 2 Councilman Nick Gresock became mayor. Poach tried to file nominating papers in March but the county elections division “refused to accept the petitions” because there was not an election for local officials this year, according to a complaint filed by Monroeville Solicitor Robert Wratcher in July.

The state’s Election Code contradicts the municipality’s home rule charter, which states that an appointed council member must run in the next municipal or non-municipal election if he or she wants to serve a full term.

Nevertheless, the Ward 2 office was on both Republican and Democrat ballots in the May 15 primary election as a write-in option. The unnamed Ward 2 office received 28 write-in votes, according to the election results. No one received the 10 votes needed to secure the nomination, and no one voted for Poach.

Mark Wolosik, the county’s division of elections director said the Ward 2 office will appear in the November election ballots as a write-in option. Independents have until Aug. 1 to file nominating papers.

As of Aug. 2, no candidates have petitioned to appear on the ballot for the office, Wolosik said.

In the complaint, Wratcher said including the Ward 2 seat in November’s ballots will only cause more confusion and is against state law.

Monroeville Manager Tim Little has said the municipality’s argument is “the PA Election Code supersedes and preempts the Home Rule Chart with respect to filling vacancies of elected officials.”

If James agrees, Little said, Poach will serve on council through December 2019 and the 2nd Ward seat will be removed from the ballots. If James disagrees, Poach will serve through December and whoever earns the most write-in votes will serve through December 2019.

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