2021 is an odd year, so the elections are mostly local ones. The judicial races this year are:
- Several state-wide judges. These are judges that primarily hear appeals. I’ve heard from candidates planning to run for the state Supreme Court, the Commonwealth Court, and the Superior Court this year. The Commonwealth and Superior courts each hear particular kinds of appeals with decisions from there appealed to the state’s supreme court.
- Court of Common Pleas judges, which are the main court system in Delaware County. I have heard there are 2 openings. The current magisterial judge of northern NP, Deborah Krull, is running for one of the seats. There are also 5 judges running for retention after their 10 year terms.
- The Magisterial District judge for district 32-1-30 is up for election, this primarily covers Ridley but also wards 1 and 5 in Nether Providence. Magisterial district judges hear small claims, truancy, evictions, and make preliminary rulings on bail.
Also potentially on the ballot is an effort by state Republicans to gerrymander the state’s supreme court. Currently the Supreme Court judges are all elected state-wide, but because Democrats currently hold a majority, the Republicans want to change it to elect them by districts instead, thus allowing them to shape the districts to give them an unbeatable majority and disenfranchise millions living in the Philly and Pittsburgh areas.
Up for election in the county is,
- Two Delaware County Council seats occupied by Kevin Madden and Brian Zidek. Everything I’ve heard indicates they’ll run again. The county oversees a diverse set of programs including the county jail, elections, health services, parks, road programs, and more.
- County Controller Joanne Phillips, elected in 2017, likely to run again. The controller oversees all the books for the county.
- County Sheriff Jerry Sanders, also elected in 2017, likely to run again. Because policing is largely either the state or township’s duty, the sheriff largely oversees security around the courts, parks and government buildings.
- Register of Wills Rachel Ezzell Berry will run for a first term. Rachel was appointed to replace Mary Walk when Mary took another position in county government. The register of wills oversees various services like marriage certificates and estates.
In Nether Providence township, up for election,
- Commissioners in wards 2, 4, and 6 are up for election for 4 year terms. Matt Garson, Kaitlin McKenzie and Robert O’Connor are all rumored to be running again for their current positions.
- Commissioners in wards 5 and 7 are up for election for 2 year terms. Stephanie King and Marty Molloy were appointed to fill out terms for people that moved out of Nether Providence this past year.
- School board region one (2 seats in northern NP) and region two (1 seat in southern NP and Rose Valley), as well as a seat in region 3 (Swarthmore) are up for election. School board has been a brutal, unpaid responsibility these past few years made much worse by the pandemic. Board vice-president Kelly Wachtman will likely run again in region 1, but long-time board member in region 1, Marylin Huff is retiring. Matt Sullivan now of Rose Valley was appointed to the region 2 seat this year.
- Tax Collector Kris Laubscher is up for re-election, she’s responsible for processing the taxes the township receives.
- All of our election officials are up for election, three officials for every single precinct in the state. These are the people you see at the polls every election. The Judge of Election is responsible for the overall running of the precinct. There are two Inspector of Elections elected to assist the judge. Nether Providence will also elect two constables responsible for making sure voters can vote without fear of intimidation. These positions can be really hard to collect signatures for because they have to come from a single precinct (except the constables), so if asked, please help your polling officials get on the ballot by signing their petitions. Democracy does not happen without them.
In terms of the 2021 calendar, candidates that won in 2020 will be sworn in during January. Nominating petitions usually start around Presidents Day in February and continue through early March. These are the petitions signed every year by voters to place candidates on the primary ballot in May. The county parties usually hold endorsement meetings of their committee members some time in February to recommend candidates to voters. In May the primary is held to pick the party nominees. Over the summer independent and third party candidates can file nominating petitions to get on the ballot. In November the general election will be held and in December the new school board members will be sworn in (the others will be sworn in January of 2022).