Mount Carmel mayor candidate not eligible
MOUNT CARMEL - The wife of a Mount Carmel mayoral candidate has questioned the eligibility of one of her husband's opponents over a residency requirement.
And it appears she may be correct.
Charmange Cimino, through a letter in March, asked the county election board to confirm whether Democratic candidate Cynthia Clayton, of North Walnut Street, had lived in the borough continuously for a full year prior to the election, which is required by Pennsylvania Borough Code.
"I wanted to make sure it's a fair election for all the candidates involved," Cimino explained this week.
Her husband, Democrat Philip "Bing" Cimino, of East Buick Street, is among three Democratic candidates who will be on the ballot.
In a subsequent letter to Clayton dated March 15, Alisha Herb, chief registrar of the election office, wrote, "It has been brought to the attention of the board of elections that you were previously registered to vote in the Township of Coal and, in fact, voted in last year's Nov. 5, 2012, election as a resident of the Township of Coal."
Based upon a voter application submitted in March, Clayton has not resided in the borough for the required amount of time, Herb further clarified this week.
Herb requested Clayton contact the board to provide proof of residency for the required time, but she said Wednesday that Clayton never contacted the board.
If she is elected and later found to be in violation of the residency requirement, either the district attorney or any citizen of the borough would have standing to attempt to have her removed from office, Herb said.
While Clayton's name remains on the ballot for the May 21 primary, it appears she is no longer actively campaigning. Democratic candidate Jason Bower, of Poplar Street, said Clayton has decided to drop out of the race and support him, and a flyer on her Facebook wall says "Vote for Bower."
Clayton did not respond to several attempts to contact her for comment.
'Scrutinized from day one'
Philip Cimino said leaders need to be aware of the rules.
"If you're running for public office, you're going to be scrutinized from day one, and you should be following all the rules," he said.
A person who wants to be mayor needs to be someone the community can look up to, he said.
"If you're not setting the example, how are you going to lead?" he said.
Pressed for comment, Bower said, "It's refreshing to see newcomers to the borough interested enough to try to get more civically involved. Hopefully Ms. Clayton is able to continue her efforts in the near future in some other capacity to try to better the community."
Earlier this year, incumbent Mayor J. Kevin Jones announced he wouldn't be running again for re-election after 16 years in the position.
DA involved in second dispute
In a second dispute related to the borough mayoral race, Herb said someone logged two complaints against Bower, and one of those had to be settled by the district attorney.
The first involved his campaign signs not having a disclaimer saying who paid for them, a requirement of the campaign finance law. Herb said she spoke with Bower and the issue was resolved.
The second issue involved a raffle conducted on behalf of Bower's campaign, which is also not permissible, according to campaign finance law.
Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Rosini would not confirm Bower's name, but said his office reviewed the issue.
"It was obvious to me that he was unaware of the law. He is a first-time candidate. It was not an intentional violation," he said.
He conferred with fellow district attorneys throughout the state and said they agreed with his gut reaction.
"I warned the person and decided not to file criminal charges," Rosini said.
However, he said Bower had to report the money to the election office.
Bower said he has spoken with the appropriate authorities, as well as his advisers and supporters, concerning the error.
"There will be no repercussions and I have taken corrective action to move forward with our campaign and the authorities are satisfied with the outcome," he said.
As a newcomer to politics, he said he would not be deterred by the allegations and wants to move forward to focus solely on campaign issues.
"I am not a political insider and do not wish to play dirty politics. This was a good-faith error on my part, and I can assure the public that it will not happen again," he said. "My best interest still lies with the people of Mount Carmel, and I look forward to hopefully serving them in the future to the best of my abilities."