Write-in effort could produce Democratic challenger for Culver
SUNBURY - John Deppen, a Democrat from Northumberland, plans to challenge state Rep. Lynda J. Schlegel Culver (R-108) in November's general election if he's successful in obtaining at least 300 write-in votes in Tuesday's primary election.
Only Democrats and Republicans are eligible to vote in the primary.
"I have a great deal of admiration for Lynda, but I believe voters should have a choice in every election," Deppen said last week. "It's just a matter of principle with me. That's why I plan to run against her in November if I can get at least 300 write-ins in the primary."
The 46-year-old Deppen, a lifelong area resident, serves as executive director of the nonprofit church-based organization Love INC (In the Name of Christ), Milton. Deppen said the organization matches up church volunteers with community residents in Snyder, Union and Northumber-
land counties possessing particular needs, such as transportation to doctors' appointments, minor household repairs and yard work.
Deppen has been a Civil War re-enactor for 17 years and supports many veterans' causes. He served on a committee responsible for establishing a veterans court in Northumberland County.
He also is a local historian.
Deppen said he's hoping for a high voter turnout in Tuesday's election, which normally doesn't occur in a primary not involving presidential, local municipal or school board races.
Culver, of Rockefeller Township, is seeking her third consecutive two-year term and is the only candidate listed on the primary ballot for that race.
Pfaff goes third party
State Rep. Kurt Masser (R-107), of Elysburg, also is running unopposed while seeking his third straight term.
He initially was being challenged on the Democratic ballot by Chris Pfaff, of Danville RR, who lost for the same office in the 2012 primary and was twice defeated in the 1990s as a Republican against Masser's predecessor, Robert E. Belfanti, a Democrat who served as state representative for approximately 30 years before retiring.
But someone challenged the number of signatures on Pfaff's nominating petition and Commonwealth Court ruled April 4 that Pfaff failed to obtain at least 300 signatures to run on the ballot.
Alisha Herb, director of the county board of elections, said Pfaff changed his party affiliation April 21 from Democrat to Constitution.
When contacted Friday, Pfaff said he ran out of time to file an appeal on the Commonwealth Court's ruling with the state Supreme Court, noting he only had 10 days to do so.
Pfaff said he changed his political affiliation to the Constitution party because he thought it would be more advantageous to become a third-party candidate.
He still hopes to obtain at least 300 write-in votes as a Democrat in Tuesday's primary so he can challenge Masser in the Nov. 4 general election.
Also on Tuesday's ballot is a referendum question for voters in Southern Columbia Area School District asking them if they want to raise school property taxes above the state-permitted maximum to help alleviate the 2014-2015 school year budget deficit.
The question reads as follows:
"Do you favor the Southern Columbia Area School District increasing the rate of its tax on real property by 6.52 mills more than the Act 1 2014-2015 index, which is 2.7 percent, plus an Act 1 exception approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education? This equates to a $155.01 tax for a property assessed at the average assessment of $23,775. The revenue generates from this increased tax rate will be used to help balance the district's budget for 2014-2015."
Congress, governor races
U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, of Luzerne County, and Democrat Andy Ostrowski, of Dauphin County, are on the ballot for the 11th Congressional District.
U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, of Lycoming County, and Democrat Scott F. Brion, of Lycoming County, are on the ballot for the 10th Congressional District.
The most competitive race on the ballot is for governor, where Democrats Tom Wolf of York County, Robert M. McCord of Montgomery County, Katie McGinty of Chester County and Allyson Y. Schwartz of Montgomery County are battling for the right to face Republican Gov. Tom Corbett of Allegheny County, who is running unopposed in the primary.
There are five Democrats battling for the lieutenant governor nomination: Former U.S. Rep. Mark Critz of Johnstown, Harrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinski, state Rep. Brandon Neuman of Washington County, Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith and state Sen. Mike Stack of Philadelphia. The incumbent Republican lieutenant governor, Jim Cawley, is unopposed for re-election.