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Bullskin, Saltlick supervisor races contested

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By Rachel Basinger
Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

When voters go to the polls in Bullskin and Saltlick townships on Nov. 5, they will be casting votes in contested supervisors' races.

In Bullskin, it will be déjà vu for David Butler and Roy Thayer with Thayer hoping things turn out a little differently from the primary.

Supervisor Bill Geary has opted not to seek another term.

In the primary election, Butler and Thayer ran against each other on the Democratic ticket. Butler, 60, was the top vote getter on that ticket, beating Thayer by more than 50 votes.

However, Thayer received enough write-in votes to have his name placed on the ballot next Tuesday on the Republican ticket.

This is not Butler's first time seeking a supervisors' position in Bullskin. In fact, he said, he's sought the position the last five times but has been unsuccessful in winning the seat.

“We've just been so close every time that I just keep trying,” he said. “I feel there's a lot of things that need to be changed.”

Butler is no stranger to what it takes to be a working supervisor. Both his dad and brother held the seat at one time or another.

Butler has owned his own business and been in the line of work done by supervisors nearly all his life.

“I'm just hoping I can make a difference,” he said. “I'd like to see the auditors do our audit again, and I'm a firm believer that we can do our own work without hiring any outside contractors.

“Honesty is the best policy,” he added. “You never have to look back if you're always truthful. Open records is the best policy.”

Butler had won the Democratic nomination for Bullskin supervisor in 2011. However, he lost his bid for the seat in a 741-732 vote when incumbent Scott Keefer mounted a write-in campaign after he lost the nomination to Butler in the primary.

A Fayette County grand jury recommended this month that conspiracy charges be filed against Keefer and Geary in relation to the November 2011 general election. The two were charged on Oct. 11 with election code violations and conspiracy for allegedly helping voters obtain and cast absentee ballots when the voters, most of whom were elderly, were able to go to the polls.

In addition, the investigating grand jury found that Keefer, 58, and Geary, 62, failed to submit required declarations of physical disability with the ballots.

In the presentments on Keefer and Geary, the grand jury found that the two incumbent supervisors “were political allies” in support of Keefer's write-in campaign during the Nov. 8, 2011, election.

Charges were also recently filed against Bullskin Township Supervisor Walter “Deb” Wiltrout. The grand jury found that Wiltrout failed to fill out declarations of assistance after helping two voters fill out and mail absentee ballots.

Jurors said there is no evidence Wiltrout “influenced” the two voters on their selections, but they nonetheless recommended the district attorney pursue charges.

This year is Thayer's first run for public office.

“I've been out campaigning, trying to meet all of the residents,” he said. He thinks he has knocked on just about every door in the township.

“I want to be the kind of supervisor that's more personable,” Thayer said. “I want to see our township continue operating in the black. What we do now is not for us — it's for our kids and grandkids — and I don't want them to pay for the stuff that's happening now.

“I just want to see the township continue to improve,” he added.

He is retired from Uptegraff's.

In the tax collector's race, Republican Kylie Stouffer Carleton is running against Democratic incumbent Louis Bell. In the auditor's race, Republican Mick Lilley is up against Democrat Jeffrey Martucci.

Saltlick Township

In Saltlick Township, incumbent Supervisor Greg Grimm will face off against Gary Wilker. Grimm is on the Democratic ticket. Wilker is a Republican.

Grimm, 50, will have served 12 years as a Saltlick Township supervisor at the end of this year, but he's hoping to continue to try to make an impact on the community and do a good job for the people of the township.

In recent years, he has been a part of seeing improvements made to Resh's Park in Indian Head by adding playground equipment.

He said the township has been trying to fix the dirt and gravel secondary roads in the township by widening and resurfacing them.

“I feel I have the experience needed for the position, and working well with the other supervisors is very important in order for the township to be productive,” Grimm said.

Wilker, 56, is seeking public office for the first time.

He said he made the choice to run for the position, mostly because no one else was running against Grimm. Wilker wants to see a change in the township.

He is a truck driver who worked for PennDOT for a year plowing snow.

Shari Bukovac will be on the ballot for Saltlick Township tax collector. No one running for auditor in the township.

Rachel Basinger is a contributing writer.

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