And It’s Off To The Races!

Welcome to election year for Beaver County government!

This year you’ll be voting for county commissioners and all row officers including district attorney, sheriff, coroner, treasurer, controller, recorder of deeds, register of wills, prothonotary, and clerk of courts.

You’ll also be voting to fill empty seats for a common pleas judge and a magisterial district judge.

As if that’s not enough opportunity to weigh in, positions at the municipal level will also be on the ballot.

The Democratic and Republican primaries will take place on May 21, with the general election on November 5.

BeaverCountian.com will be providing comprehensive coverage of the elections throughout the year.

Starting now.

Although it’s still very early, here’s a rundown on what I’m hearing from county politicos so far about how the races are just starting to shape up.


“Uncle Sam” / J. M. Flagg

So What About You?

Before I start talking about what “they” are doing, I want to take a few sentences to talk about what YOU could be doing.

One issue we’ve consistently seen in Beaver County is a lack of qualified individuals willing to run for public office.

Seeking elected office is not something to jump into without considerable thought, but it could be that you are the solution to the problems you are seeing.

The first day to circulate nominating petitions is February 19, so there is still time to consider whether you may want to serve your community as a public official.

Copies of all relevant election laws, necessary forms, and calendars of important dates, can be obtained from the Beaver County Bureau of Elections. A trip down to the courthouse to pay them a visit is worth your time. I’ve always found the staff to be extremely helpful to prospective candidates, but please keep in mind they are a filing office and can not provide you with political or legal advice.

Dan Camp at the desk of the Bureau of Elections / 2016 file photo by John Paul

The Board of Commissioners

The Incumbents:

– Republican Commissioner Dan Camp has announced he will be seeking reelection, as has Democratic Commissioner Tony Amadio. Republican Sandie Egley has announced she will not be running for a second term.

Fun Fact: Commissioner Camp has hired Jim Christiana’s new consulting firm to help with his campaign (Christiana also serves as Chairman of the Republican Party). Christiana told me he’s looking forward to helping Camp stay in power, “I have been a believer in Commissioner Camp from the very beginning. I supported him from the first moment he originally announced he was running. Working for him as his political consultant now gives me the opportunity to support him in other ways.”

Another Fun Fact: Although Commissioner Egley has ruled out seeking reelection for county commissioner, she has notably refused to say that she won’t be running for another office.

Democratic Challengers:

– Rochester native Julian Taylor has announced his candidacy.

– Rumors are circulating that former Republican County Commissioner Dennis Nichols (who lost reelection in 2015 and became a Democrat in 2016 before a failed run for state representative) is considering a run for commissioner on the Democratic ticket. I took a look at his latest campaign finance report and his account still has $36,485 sitting in it just itching to be spent on yard signs and political mailers!

– Attorney Terri Mitko was planning to campaign for county commissioner before deciding to run for state representative last year. She lost her bid to Republican Josh Kail, and told people afterwards that she does not plan to seek elected office again. That being said, Mitko has started to appear at the commissioners’ public meetings with a notebook in hand.

– Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker was expecting to be a candidate for commissioner this year, but now finds himself wrapped up in criminal investigations being conducted by the FBI, State Police, and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. My sources tell me he’s also been a subject of inquiry for the Pennsylvania Statewide Investigating Grand Jury. Despite the intense scrutiny by law enforcement, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf recently appointed Walker to his Advisory Commission on African American Affairs, so it is hard to say at this point what he will decide to do.

Republican Challengers:

– I’m hearing that Chamber of Commerce President Jack Manning is definitely running on the Republican ticket. Jack previously ran for county commissioner in 2011 as an Independent, but couldn’t overcome the power of the straight ticket votes. I’m told that Jack plans to stay on as head of the Chamber throughout his candidacy.

Incumbent Republican Commissioner Dennis Nichols campaigning in Brighton Township. Nichols lost his bid for reelection in the primary to Dan Camp and Sandie Egley / photo by John Paul
Incumbent Republican Commissioner Dennis Nichols campaigning in Brighton Township. Nichols lost his bid for reelection in the primary to Dan Camp and Sandie Egley / photo by John Paul

Sheriff

The Incumbent:

– Republican Sheriff Tony Guy will be seeking reelection.

Democratic Challengers:

– Wayne Kress has announced he will be running for sheriff again, having previously lost against Tony Guy in the 2015 general election. A fundraiser Kress held back in 2017 made news when Republican Commissioner Sandie Egley showed up and announced she would be supporting his candidacy.

– Former sheriff George David has told people close to him that he intends to run for his old seat again. David lost reelection in 2015 when he was defeated in the Democratic primary by Kress. BeaverCountian.com has published extensive investigative reporting on David’s prior tenures in office.

Republican Challengers:

– No word yet on anyone entering the Republican primary to take on Guy. Sam Piccinini, a Republican who has repeatedly run unsuccessfully for sheriff in the past, is now openly supporting Kress’s candidacy and is not expected to enter the race.

Sheriff Tony Guy (right) with Chief Deputy Dean Michael / photo by John Paul

Coroner David Gabauer / submitted campaign photo

Coroner

The Incumbent:

– Republican Coroner David Gabauer will be seeking reelection.

Challengers: I’m not hearing any names yet in either party.


Treasurer

The Incumbent: Democratic Treasurer Connie Javens has announced she is retiring at the end of her term and will not be seeking reelection.

Democratic Challengers:

– Conway Twp. Tax Collector Lori Bohach has announced she’s running. Bohach has been quickly garnering support within the party, although Democratic politicos say they worry about her ability to raise campaign funds.

– Beaver County First Deputy Treasurer Cebran Netherland, who was hired by Javens, has announced he will be running to fill her seat. Some Democratic politicos fear controversies involving Netherland’s uncle, mother, brother, and his wife, along with his own headlines, could cause problems for the overall Democratic ticket. I’m hearing Netherland isn’t very happy to see people rallying around Bohach already, and may have come up with a solution to overcome her as a political hurdle (keep reading).

Republican Challengers:

– Politicos tell me First Deputy Treasurer Cebran Netherland has been thinking about switching to Republican so he can avoid facing Bohach in the Democratic primary. I went into the Beaver County Bureau of Elections yesterday to check his party affiliation, as of now he’s still a registered Democrat.

– Republican Tom Leydig has been giving serious consideration to running, although has not yet made an announcement. Leydig ran against Javens in 2015, but was narrowly defeated in a tight race with the longtime incumbent.

Beaver County Treasurer Connie Javens / file photo by John Paul

Controller

The Incumbent:

– Democratic Controller David Rossi is expected to seek reelection.

Challengers: I’m not hearing any names yet in either party.

County Controller David Rossi / file photo by John Paul

Register of Wills

The Incumbent:

– Democratic Register of Wills Tracy Antoline-Patton has said she is seeking reelection.

Challengers: None that I am aware of so far. Politicos on both sides of the aisle tell me their commissioner candidates are just happy she’s decided not to seek a seat on the board — she would be viewed as a formidable candidate in the race.

Tracey Antonline-Patton (white shirt) / Beaver Countian file photo by John Paul
Tracey Antonline-Patton (white shirt) / Beaver Countian file photo by John Paul

Clerk of Courts

The Incumbent:

– Democratic Clerk of Courts Judy Enslen will be seeking reelection.

Challengers:

– None that I am aware of yet.


Prothonotary

The Incumbent:

– Democratic Prothonotary Nancy Werme has announced she will be retiring at the end of her term and will not be seeking reelection.

Democratic Candidates:

– Attorney Felicia Santillan’s name was traveling in political circles as a possible contender, but it’s been several months since anyone has mentioned her in any significant way. Whether she’ll end up in the race remains to be seen.

Republican Candidates:

– Boxer Josh Himes is expected to run for prothonotary. Himes recently moved back into the area from Nashville with his country-singer wife; the couple appeared on an episode of HGTV’s House Hunter as part of the move. Himes previously announced he was running for County Controller back in 2015, although dropped out of the race shortly after BeaverCountian.com revealed he had been recruited as a candidate by then-Sheriff George David.

Josh Himes / submitted press photo

Recorder of Deeds

The Incumbent:

– Democratic Recorder of Deeds Janice Beale has announced she will be retiring at the end of her term and will not be seeking reelection.

Democratic Candidates

– I’m told that Hopewell Township’s Bobby Williams will be running for the seat. Williams previously had an unsuccessful general election candidacy in 2012 for state representative against then-incumbent Republican Jim Christiana.

– Also being floated as a possible Democratic contender is Dee Dixon, a local Realtor who is largely unknown in political circles.

Republican Candidates:

None that I am aware of yet.

Bob Williams / photo by John Paul

District Attorney

The Incumbent: Republican District Attorney David Lozier has said he is seeking reelection.

Republican Challengers:

– None that have been confirmed. Republican party officials have actively sought a candidate to challenge Lozier in the primary, although have so far come up empty.

– Attorney Gerald Benyo, who ran for DA in 2015 but lost to Lozier in the Republican primary, changed his party to Democrat last year and announced he was going to make another run for the seat. Lozier’s county detectives arrested Benyo at the end of last year on charges of domestic assault (an accusation he adamantly denies). Benyo then changed his affiliation back to Republican and there is some hinting around he may be considering another go at Lozier in the primary. Good luck predicting what might happen in this race.

Democratic Challengers:

– Edward “Teddy” Knafelc first announced he is running for district attorney in a public letter sent to BeaverCountian.com last August. Knafelc, who is the son of Senior Judge Harry Knafelc, currently serves as an assistant public defender (along with his wife). Although many members of the bar I have spoken with have expressed reservations about Knafelc’s youth and lack of trial and prosecutorial experience, he appears to be gaining wide support as the presumptive opposition candidate to Lozier.

Edward “Ted” Knafelc / submitted photo

Magisterial District Judge (District 36-1-01)

District 36-1-01 serves Ambridge Borough, Baden Borough, and Harmony Township.

The Incumbent

– The seat is currently vacant.

The Candidates:

Note: Judicial candidates typically cross-file and appear on the primary ballots for both parties.

– Democrat Frank Martocci has told party officials he will be running for the office. Martocci, a former assistant district attorney, ran for District Attorney in 2015 but lost in general election to Republican David Lozier.

– Democrat Attorney Robert Alsko has previously said he planned to run for the seat, although has not yet told party officials he is still committed to entering the race.

– Democrat Alexander Korol, who currently serves as Ambridge constable, has told some in his community he intends to run although has not yet committed to entering the race.

Frank Martocci (right) / Beaver Countian file photo by John Paul

Common Pleas Judge

The Incumbent: The seat is currently vacant.

The Candidates:

Note: Judicial candidates typically cross-file and appear on the primary ballots for both parties.

– Democrat William Braslawski has announced he will be running. Braslawske ran for judge back in 2017, but was defeated in the general election by Deborah Lancos DeCostro and Mitchell Shahen.

– Democrat Laura Tocci’s name has been floated as a likely candidate, although politicos on both sides of the aisle are expressing some uncertainty as to what her final decision will be.

– Republican Steve Necaster is expected to run. Necaster is a relative new hire as an assistant district attorney by David Lozier.

Attorney William Braslawsce / submitted campaign photo

John Paul
John Paul is the founder of the Beaver Countian. He reports full-time for the site, specializing in investigative journalism with an emphasis on public corruption.

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John Q Taxpayer
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John Q Taxpayer

I will vote for any unknown, inexperienced and uncorrupted person that will run against any of these crooked, yellow bellied, lying sap suckers that are in office now. Must have no ties with anyone associated with the present corrupt machine. Janitors, throw down your mops, burger flippers take off your apron, unemployed get down to the courthouse and throw your hat into the ring. WE WANT YOU !!!

Ricimer
Member
Ricimer

Yes well said If they haven’t been infected by the disease that permeates Beaver County politics vote for them. No matter what party.

Uncle Wah Wah
Guest
Uncle Wah Wah

Well, that is just as stupid as electing the same insider people over and over. You need QUALIFIED people to do these positions. For just starters, you need to have an understanding of the work for the position. That means education and experience in the area that you will be in. Not based on in-laws and relatives, golfing buddies, high school football teammates, parish members, etc, etc, picking an office that they can win and I don’t think the janitor, truck driver or burger flipper is going to get in there and run things at a high level just on common sense and good intentions. That makes for a touchy feely movie, not real world life.

We got a non-political “leader” down in DC right now and it’s a merry go round in the nuthouse with him in charge.

jaacee
Guest
jaacee

Certainly disappointed that the Republicans can’t come up with a better cast of candidates so far. And Christiana working for and supporting RINO Camp is disgusting. Another four years with Camp, Lozier, Guy, etc. is simply unacceptable!

Raven
Guest
Raven

Ya gotta love it.

Georgie wants to feed his obsession with guns, four stars, white uniform and shiny gold badge he played with, and run again — in his 70’s? Please — a misogynist calling the office women “cun-s”, threatening to kill people who ask questions, and hiring a posse of Quips were quite enough for the first go-round. Yep, our “Not guilty, didn’t happen” gendarme wants another go at it.

And the self-entitled “I am the Treasurer, the Treasurer is I” octogenarian Con wants to APPOINT a disk jockey novice from the judge’s extended family as Treasurer, to subvert and circumvent the election process? Say it ain’t so.

And Frank the Snake still thinks he can play the subversion game for fun and profit?

Yep, same old, same old, in Beaver County politics.

Uncle Wah Wah
Guest
Uncle Wah Wah

How would Josh Hines have run for Controller????? Does he have an Accounting background? Sort of a necessary pre-requisite to being a Controller.

And isn’t it nice to see Jimmy Christiana leaving politics at the state level and coming back to BC to orchestrate things here? Just what we need…

Wise Owl
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Wise Owl

Beaver County voters are plain lazy so all the familiar names will be reelected. The Treasurer’s nominee is a farce, will do a write-in for Minnie Mouse than vote for another extended family member. The two commissioners are leaving the Financial Advisor position vacant and it would not surprise me because a courthouse family member will soon be graduating and he/she knows 1+1 =3.