Buzz and I treated the OVC staff to a weekend off, but now it's time to do a little Monday morning quarterbacking. Let's first look at the Scranton mayor's race.
We were a bit surprised by the closeness of the Scranton mayor's race on the Democratic side. Mayor Chris Doherty received a tough challenge from Gary DiBileo. The final tally showed Doherty with 8,677 or 52.56% and DiBileo with 7,736 or 46.86%. On the GOP side Bob Bolus, a candidate who would be ineligible to serve because of a felony conviction from some 15 years ago, was the only candidate on the ballot. He received 837 votes, but there were 1809 write-in votes, most of which went to Doherty.
DiBileo is a former Scranton school director and former Scranton City council member. He challenged the two term Doherty for a rematch of the 2005 mayor's race. In 2005, DiBileo garnered 47 percent of the vote.
We believe Doherty has done quite an admirable job as mayor by making the tough decisions required of a small city mayor. His personnel decisions were not popular among the uniformed personnel, but they were the right decisions. Fortunately enough Democrats in Scranton had the wisdom to send Doherty on to a third term.
Now to Luzerne County.
We were pleased, but not at all surprised to see the Home Rule question pass with 77.46 percent. After all, if ever there were a time to fix a broken government, now is the time in Luzerne County. We are optimistic that the charter study commission which was elected on Tuesday will put forth a plan that will be acceptable to a majority of Luzerne County voters.
The biggest race, by far, in Luzerne County was the race for two judicial seats. Magisterial District Judge William Amesbury of Wilkes-Barre was the top voter getter by a wide margin on the Democratic side, capturing 10,393 votes to second place Attorney Tina PolachekGartley at 8,248 votes.
Amesbury also won one of the Republican nominations, finishing second behind Attorney Richard Hughes. The vote totals were 4,845 for Hughes and 4,701 for Amesbury.
Amesbury ran an excellent campaign. Although he was outspent by a number of his opponents, Amesbury got the most bang for the buck. Amesbury may not have been everyone's first choice, but we rarely heard a negative word about the amiable Wilkes-Barre magistrate during our travels during the campaign. He also came across as a hard working, honest, and sincere man who just seemed right for the times.
Hughes ran a well organized campaign and had strong support among the party faithful. Throughout the campaign we ran into many a GOP folk who stood firmly behind the Mountaintop attorney. Hughes has been something of a judge candidate in waiting. We heard rumors of him pondering a run in both 2003 (the seat won by Mike Toole) and in 2007 (the seat won by District Attorney Dave Lupas.)
The Republican faithful rewarded Hughes with the top spot in 2009. This was probably the most predictable result in the judicial race. We thought Hughes was a gimme for one of the GOP nod since early in the election season.
In an earlier post, we stated that Gartley won the Democratic nomination for one reason --- she was a woman. We stand by that statement.
There was nothing in the Gartley campaign that set her apart from a field of fine candidates besides her gender. In a year when the electorate became tired of the good ol' boy network, Gartley fit the bill.
Gartley's success is a major reason why Judge Joe Musto lost. Musto was perceived to be one of the good ol' boys (not in that he was corrupt, but the people wanted someone "new" and Musto was too much of the same.
The biggest losers in the election were Tom O'Connor and Gene Sperazza. Both men spent over a $100,000, and both faired poorly and well out of the mix. (O'Connor 8th and Sperazza 9th on the Democratic side and O'Connor 5th and Sperazza 6th on the GOP side.) Neither campaign took off despite the money spent.
Attorneys Joe Sklarosky and Daniel Zola showed some electoral prowess on Tuesday, and we would not be surprised to see them in a sequel in 2011. There are at least two, and as many as five judgeships up in 2011. Ciavarella's seat is up, as well as Hugh Mundy's seat. He will be 70 next year. Ann Lokuta will have exhausted her appeals by then, and thus her seat will be up. Finally, Judges Tom Burke and Peter Paul Olzsewski are facing tough retentions battles and fall to the "no" vote come this November.
If you thought 17 candidates was a lot, wait and see what we get in 2001 if five seats are up.
So the general election is a battle between Gartley and Hughes, since Amesbury is virtually assured election by having won a spot on both the Republican and Democratic sides. Hughes is a definite underdog, and we believe he will lose in November unless the Gartley campaign experiences a major blunder. We are not in a position to speculate on whether something may emerge to upset the Gartley ship of state, but we would not be surprised if something does emerge.
Tomorrow we will take a look at some other Luzerne County races of interest.