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Valley News Dispatch

West Deer voters support reducing number of supervisors

| Wednesday, May 16, 2018
West Deer residents Mike Porter and Hannah Golden leave the polling place inside the West Deer Senior Center after voting on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.
Emily Balser | Tribune-Review
West Deer residents Mike Porter and Hannah Golden leave the polling place inside the West Deer Senior Center after voting on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.

West Deer voters voted to reduce the number of supervisors from seven to five and by a razor-thin margin decided to establish four election districts and one at-large supervisor seat in the township, according to official election results in Tuesday's primary.

Question one prevailed by a 16-vote margin and received 1,305 votes. Question two received 1,270 votes.Even though both questions got majority “yes” votes, West Deer Manager Daniel Mator said the question with the most yes votes will prevail.

“It's pretty clear it's going to go down to five,” Mator said Tuesday night.

He said the changes would take effect in 2020. If districts are made, the next step is to get the state involved in creating them.

The township's home-rule charter review board recommended the referendum on the proposed changes. The board is made up of four residents, three supervisors, the township manager, the township solicitor and a representative from the governor's office.

The board met over the past two years and reviewed the charter for possible updates.

After reviewing the charter and comparing West Deer with neighboring townships, board members recommended the potential changes in how officials are elected. The home-rule charter requires any changes be sent to a referendum vote.

Voters split on questions

Workers at several polling places said turnout was low with less than 100 voters at many locations by noon and barely breaking 100 by 5 p.m.

Tuesday was the only chance to vote on the referendum. It won't be on the November ballot.

Voters at the polls seemed to indicate they were in favor of reducing the number of supervisors from seven to five, but weren't in favor of creating districts.

“We don't need districts,” said residents Greg Pompe after he voted at the polling place inside the township building.

He said creating districts would add confusion about which supervisor residents can go to if they have a problem.

However, he did vote to reduce the number of supervisors to five.

“We have too many — they never agree,” he said.

Former township code enforcement officer Gary Bogan also voted to reduce the number of supervisors to five and keep them at-large.

“We have a hard enough time getting people to run,” he said.

Janice Hohmann said she voted to reduce the number of supervisors to five and create the districts, but she didn't even know the issues were on the ballot until she entered the voting booth.

“It might be nicer,” she said of the districts. “I don't know if reducing (the supervisors) would make a lot of difference.”

Lifelong resident Carrie Pavshak said she didn't want to see any of the changes. She said she thinks everything is working the way it is.

“I love the town,” she said.

Some skip questions

Township officials had worried voters might be confused by the way the questions were worded on the ballot, and it seems that might have been true for some.

Mike Porter said he didn't even vote on the referendum questions because he didn't know what they were about and didn't feel like he had enough information to vote.

“I had no idea,” he said.

Another resident said he voted for them, but wasn't really sure what he was voting for.

Dave Bagaley, judge of elections at the polling place inside St. Victor Catholic Church, said most voters seemed to understand the questions, but a few had to reference a sheet of paper that explained what they were for.

“They get a little nervous,” he said. “They're getting through.”

Emily Balser and Chuck Biedka are Tribune-Review staff writers. Reach her at 724-226-4680, or via Twitter @emilybalser. Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711, or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka.

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