Castellani appointed to Lucerne County Electoral Council

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Butler township resident Patrick Castellani will take a Republican seat on the five-member Luzerne County Electoral Council, the county council ruled on Tuesday.

The Citizen Volunteer Council oversees elections, makes decisions on flagged ballots and written votes, and certifies election results.

A Republican board seat was open because Missy Thomas stepped down at the end of last month due to other commitments. Under the County Self-Government Charter, the board must have four council-appointed members (two Republicans and two Democrats), these four then choosing a president of any affiliation.

Richard Nardone, Kathryn Roth, Audrey Serniak and President Denise Williams also sit on the Board of Directors.

Castellani said in his public interview on Monday that he was a longtime resident of the county with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from King’s College. He has worked in the accounting field and most recently held various positions at Marywood University including Controller and Acting Vice President of Business Affairs.

The other two council candidates – Candice Chilek, of West Pittston, and Alyssa Fusaro, of Luzerne – were also named on Tuesday. City Councilor Harry Haas pleaded for Fusaro’s nomination, saying she had “stood out” by providing commentary during the process of investigating previous council elections.

Seven of the 11 board members named Castellani: LeeAnn McDermott, Chris Perry, Kendra Radle, Sheila Saidman, Robert Schnee, Matthew Vough and Tim McGinley.

Haas and City Councilor Stephen J. Urban named Fusaro, and City Councilor Linda McClosky Houck named Chilek.

City councilor Walter Griffith abstained, saying Castellani donated to his campaign and did not want to vote at the moment.

In the final confirmation vote that followed, nine voted for Castellani, with Urban and Griffith abstaining.

Castellani will serve until the end of 2023.

DA litigation

A majority of the council approved a stipend of $ 10,000 to pay outside legal counsel Stevens & Lee for an appeal he filed in litigation challenging the county electoral board’s decision to place the prosecutor’s race of the county in the November 2 ballot.

This brings the total allocation to $ 30,000 for external counsel to the Council.

The appeal to Commonwealth Court challenges a guest judge’s refusal of a preliminary injunction that would have removed the race from the ballot while the lawsuit was being tried. The prosecutor’s office joined the council in filing the case.

Outside lawyers representing all three parties – the council, the DA’s office and the electoral committee – argued their positions in a virtual hearing before Commonwealth Court judges last week. The Commonwealth Court had not rendered a decision by 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Ten board members approved the additional $ 10,000 allowance on Tuesday, with McClosky Houck voting alone.

“I don’t support this because I think this is all a waste of money. I said it from day one, ”she said.

McGinley said he was not in favor of going ahead with an appeal, but would vote yes because a majority of the board asked the law firm to do the work. He said the second posting should be the “end of our involvement”.

Griffith said the lawsuit was warranted because he believes the electoral board overstepped its authority in making the DA’s tenure a two-year term. He also said the conflict started when county prosecutors expressed conflicting views on how the electoral council should proceed.

Capital funds

A majority of the board supported McGinley’s motion to strengthen the capital fund, which declined to $ 120,864, with a deposit of $ 175,000.

The replenishment will come from the payment of overdue taxes in a pending property sale.

McGinley said the transfer would provide some “flexibility” but described the new total as a “very, very small amount if we have some kind of crisis in the next few months.”

Council also on Tuesday approved a settlement of $ 15,000 to close a breach of contract claim filed by Hazleton-based Gans Multimedia Partnership regarding the county’s termination of a lease for a 911 radio communications site in Shickshinny.

Contact Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.


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