Four new faces elected to council
Four new faces will serve on Middletown Borough Council in 2014 after a contentious election campaign that included debates over the borough’s financial status and government transparency.
Of three incumbents running for reelection …
Four new faces elected to council
Newcomers said their first priority will be getting up to speed with the borough’s financial situation.
Louer said the newcomers will face a “learning curve,” and pledged to provide them with the information they need to make informed decisions. “It’s a whole lot of learning that they have to do,” he said.
Here’s a breakdown of the council races by ward:
Challenger Thomas Handley and incumbent Louer defeated challenger Rachelle Reid, a former councilor, for two seats on council, according to unofficial results.
Handley received 304 votes, Louer received 233 votes and Reid received 202 votes.
“I hope that I can bring some needed change to the council,” said Handley, who ran on an anti-incumbent platform. “I’m happy to see the amount of change that we did get. I’m glad to see that that happened, so we’re looking at at least four new faces on council, and maybe this is what the town needs.”
In particular, Handley said he will work to help move the borough away from its association with the Act 47 Early Intervention Program and the looming possibility of applying for Act 47 financially distressed municipality status.
“I don’t think the town is bankrupt, and I think we need to avoid [Act 47] as much as we possibly can,” Handley said. “I think that hurts the town more than it helps us.”
Louer, however, said he is glad to have been reelected to continue to implement council’s current policies.
“I want to continue on, and if we had been elected out, we wouldn’t be able to carry them through,” he said. “Once [the new councilors] see what it is and they understand [the financial situation], they’ll pick up where we are.”
Reid congratulated Handley and Louer on their victories, but promised to continue letting her voice be heard in borough government.
“It is what it is and, in this case, Bob won – but I’m still going to play watchdog,” she said. “I’m not going to disappear. I’m not going to recede back into the wood work. This is where I live, and I’ve got a right to voice my opinions and my thoughts. If they mess up, I’ll be right there to tell them.”
Challengers Benjamin Kapenstein and Anne Einhorn defeated incumbents Barbara Arnold and Donald Brooks for two seats on council, according to unofficial results.
Kapenstein received 342 votes, Einhorn received 345 votes, Arnold received 242 votes and Brooks received 214 votes, unofficial results show.
Einhorn and Kapenstein, both Democrats, campaigned as running mates, and both said they were happy about their victory.
“I feel blessed, I just want to thank everybody for the support,’’ said Kapenstein. “I’m looking forward to getting started, and helping to move the town forward however we can.
“I’d like to put all the negativity behind us – it’s over now, the election’s over, so hopefully everybody can move forward,” he added. “I’d like to say thank you to my opponents for serving their community. I know it was a good battle, but it’s over in my eyes.”
Moving forward, Kapenstein said his top priority will be reviewing the borough’s financial situation, including the potential for having to apply for Act 47 distressed municipality status.
“Act 47, that’s a big word, and if you’re doing that, you have to make sure you’re doing the right thing,” he said.
He also hopes for good communication between the newcomers and current council members, he said.
“I think we’ll be able to get on the same page and work together – I mean, we have to,” he said. “There has to be a happy medium that we can come to and figure this stuff out.”
Einhorn expressed similar feelings about the victory.
“Of course, I’m really pleased to have won and thankful for everybody who voted for change,” she said. “I’m thankful that Ben won as well. I think that it will be an interesting movement on council. I think that it will be challenging, and hopefully there will be debate, discussion and progress.”
Einhorn agreed that getting a handle on the financial situation would be her top priority, although another immediate goal is increasing the discussion of issues during council meetings and providing citizens with easier access to public information, she said.
“There’s been a sort of way of doing things that have been part of the problem with council, and with new people coming on, I think that may change,” she said.
Brooks, meanwhile, wished Einhorn and Kapenstein luck moving forward.
“The results speak for themselves,’’ he said. “Apparently the people don’t have the faith in Barbara and I, and that’s their choice. I wish them all the luck – they’re going to need it.”
Arnold could not be reached for comment.
Democrat Victoria Malone has narrowly defeated fellow challenger Marcia Cleland, a Republican, for a seat on council, according to unofficial results.
Malone received 239 votes and Cleland received 237 votes, with both precincts reporting.
Cleland is not yet conceding defeat, noting that her daughter cast a provisional ballot that, if verified, would put her within one vote of Malone.
Jerry Feaser, Director of the Dauphin County Bureau of Elections and Voter Registration, confirmed that provisional votes are not included in the unofficial results, although absentee ballots are included.
The county began a computation of all votes, including provisionary votes, on Friday, Nov. 8, according to Feaser.
There is no automatic recount provision for close races in local elections, Feaser said. According to Pennsylvania law, three voters in a voting district must verify via affidavit that they believed an error occurred to trigger a recount.
Assuming the results stand, Cleland said, “I’m definitely dissatisfied that I didn’t win, but it’s a close race and I did everything that I could, so I’m happy with it, and I wish Vicki luck.”
Malone could not be reached for comment.