Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Too many good candidates on the ballot

The polls don't close until 8 p.m., but I still haven't voted today. I've been putting it off because I can't decide who to vote for in a couple of key races in Berks County.

The problem? Too many good candidates on the ballot.

Take Berks County Commissioner, for example. There's 6 Republicans on the ballot and 4 of them would make good county commissioners. At this point, I'm not sure which 2 of the 4 I'm going to vote for. I may not make up my mind until the curtain closes behind me in the voting booth.

Democrats in Berks face a similar problem this year. There's 4 names on the ballot and 3 of the candidates are worth voting for. That's an entirely new factor for Democratic voters, who usually have to settle for political hacks.

And speaking of Berks County Democrats, it appears that Judy Schwank, a two-term incumbent Democrat and current chairwoman of the Board of Commissioners, must be feeling a bit nervous about this election.

Four years ago, Schwank made a bid deal of the fact that she did not allow supporters to place her campaign signs on public property. However, this year, Schwank's signs can be found on the side of many of the county's roads. She must be feeling the heat from the other 3 Democrats seeking Democratic nominations to run for commissioner.

Schwank is also pouring a lot of money into her re-election campaign. According to the latest campaign finance reports, Schwank has spent nearly $30,000 as of April 30. Challenger Kevin Barnhardt has spent $21,000 and the other incumbent Democrat, Thomas Gajewski, has spent $16,000. The fourth candidate is David J. Batdorf, who appears a longshot to win either of the 2 nominations.

The big spender on the Republican side is newcomer Christian Y. Leinbach, who has spent a remarkable $44,000 in an attempt to to win one of the two GOP nominations. Leinbach, a political insider, has never held public office, but has a lot of friends with money. Many of his campaign contributors are from outside Berks County.

The most active campaigners have been incumbent Mark Scott, current county Treasurer Nelson Long and Randall Gartner.

There's two other contested races at the county level.

Two candidates -- Ron Stanko and Tim Rowley -- are seeking an open seat on Berks County Court of Common Pleas. My mailbox has been swamped by fliers from both candidates, but I still haven't decided who to vote for. Both have cross-filed, so the the winner of this contest could be decided today.

And maverick Republican John Fielding is challenging incumbent Recorder of Deeds Ellie Antoine in the GOP primary.

One other race of note. Incumbent Berks County District Attorney Mark Baldwin doesn't have an opponent in the GOP primary and has put all his effort into winning the Democratic Party nomination as a write-in so he doesn't have to worry about a contest in the fall. He'll probably accomplish his goal.

It's hard to believe that the Berks County Democratic Party couldn't find anybody to run for such a high-profile office.

No comments: