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Write-in votes don't sway most results

| Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, 2:41 a.m.

Write-ins didn't make a difference in most Mon-Yough communities on Tuesday.

In Versailles, however, according to complete but unofficial returns from the Allegheny County Elections Division, 84 write-ins were counted.

And a woman recruited to run a write-in campaign for council claimed 70 of those votes, which could top three of five candidates on the ballot for four seats.

Evelyn Coddington could not be reached at presstime, but Councilman Gary W. Roscoe said he's certain that she topped, by one vote, Democratic Councilwoman Cheryl Flaherty.

“I talked to someone at the (elections division) on Wednesday,” Roscoe said. “He said (Coddington) probably will be notified the first of next week.”

Roscoe said Coddington may have been on the minds of the 14 who wrote in someone else.

“It is a possibility that some used her husband's name, Schillaci,” Roscoe said.

The count published in Wednesday's Daily News was 161 for tax collector Lisa Fleckenstein, who had both party nominations, 121 for Democratic incumbent Emerson Fazekas, 80 for Democratic council president Linda Sheedy, 69 for Flaherty and 61 for Republican incumbent Dennis B. Keefe.

Roscoe said that matched what was posted at the two voting places in the borough.

But after publication time on Wednesday the county's website showed Fleckenstein with 162, Fazekas with 122, Sheedy with 81, Flaherty with 70 and Keefe with 61.

It's possible that absentee ballots changed the final totals.

“That is quite possible,” Roscoe said, “but election officials (in Versailles) were not aware of absentee ballots. All votes in Pennsylvania have to be certified by a sworn panel.”

Roscoe said last week that Coddington got borough Democratic chairman Tillie Gricar interested in her candidacy.

Gricar said she was pushing her party's slate, which did not include Coddington.

“I talked to her as I talked to the rest of the candidates,” Gricar said. She acknowledged knowing Coddington “since she was a child” but asked, “Why would I endorse her?”

In other election developments:

• Write-in efforts faltered in commissioner contests in two North Versailles Township wards.

In Ward 6 there were 145 write-ins reported, compared to 191 for former East Allegheny school director Vince Paradine, who had both party nods.

Judy Slater, who also ran a write-in campaign in the spring, received all 145 votes — and may have had more, though not for commissioner.

“They just could not understand,” Slater said of some voters who saw “write-in” and put Slater's name in for Allegheny County sheriff and Common Pleas Court judge.

Slater went to 600 homes in Ward 6 and actively campaigned for write-ins outside the polling place in the Fire Department of North Versailles hall.

She said county election officials still are going to go over all the votes, but said of Paradine, “I'm sure he is going to do a good job for the township.”

In Ward 4 there were 70 write-ins. Incumbent Samuel Juliano, who had both party nods and received 176 votes, said Norman Stitt received 59 of those write-ins.

Juliano and Stitt clashed for the Democratic nod in May and both conducted GOP write-in efforts, with Juliano edging Stitt, 18-12.

In Ward 2, incumbent Democrat Daryl Mitchell turned back spring foe Joseph Kutch, who won the GOP nod in May, by 149-137.

• In Wall there were 15 write-ins for mayor but only seven for a third seat on council. Democrats John Dusak and Thomas J. Wratcher were unopposed for two other council seats.

• No information was available at presstime about North Irwin, where four four-year council seats had to be filled on Tuesday, three by write-ins.

Democrat Paul John McIntyre was unopposed on the ballot for a four-year seat and received 90 votes according to complete but unofficial returns from the Westmoreland County Elections Bureau. Democrat Gina Sonnik was unopposed for a two-year council seat.

Also in North Irwin, James G. Douglas had both party nods for mayor and Democrat Maureen P. Laverde was unopposed for tax collector.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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