Saturday, February 21, 2009

Scranton Election Update

According to the Scranton Times, voters in Scranton will get a rematch for the title fight between Democrat Chris Doherty and Democrat Gary Dibileo. Dibileo has announced his intentions to seek the top spot in Scranton City government.

Dibileo stated that he will be focusing on a grassroots campaign. Doherty, will defend his positions as vigorously as he did in 2005. Questions about a Republican challenger still remain. Republican School Director Pat O’Malley’s name has circulated as a potential opponent for Doherty, but O’Malley has yet to commit.

Republican Chairman Paul Catalano had stated previously that he was talking with potential candidates but none seem to have materialized thus far.

In 2005, there were no Republican challengers to Doherty. This caused both Doherty and Dibileo to seek the Republican nomination via write-in votes while also trying to secure the Democratic nomination. Doherty narrowly won the Democratic nomination, Dibileo narrowly won the Republican nomination as a write-in candidate. In the General Election, Doherty was victorious. Dibileo stated in an interview that he was a loyal Democrat and that he would stay a Democrat. Some Republicans felt they were being used and started a “Concerned Republicans for Doherty” committee to funnel their support to Doherty. Dibileo was never able to channel Republican support behind his candidacy which likely contributed to his loss.

The Scranton Times, in its various interviews with Doherty, has still failed to ask him if he will serve a full term as Mayor of Scranton. It is widely held that Doherty has future aspirations to higher office and that he will likely seek higher office very soon. This would cause a situation where the President of Scranton City Council will assume the Mayor’s position and a substitute Council Member would be elected.

Depending on the outcome of the Council and Tax Collector races in Scranton this year, that could totally change the direction of the city.

A bit of background…Scranton City Council’s current makeup has three seats open in the 2009 election. One is Democrat Janet Evans, a frequent critic of Mayor Doherty. The two other positions open are Democrats Judy Gatelli and Democrat Sherry Fanucci. Both Gatelli and Fanucci are seen as Doherty loyalists. That leaves Democrat Bill Courtright, a sometime Doherty critic, and Democrat Bob McGoff, a Doherty loyalist.

Democrat Scranton City Council member Bill Courtright intends to seek the position of Scranton Tax Collector. This would create a vacancy in council and remove a frequent ally of Janet Evans from the equation.

If Courtright wins his position race for tax collector, Council will vote to appoint someone to fill the vacancy. In the event of a two vote to two vote tie, the Mayor would get to cast the tie-breaking vote. This would allow Mayor Doherty to maintain a 3-2 majority and allow his president of council to succeede him, should he win higher office.

If Courtright loses his bid for Council, Evans would only need to win one addition seat other than her own to take control of Council. If Courtright wins, she would need to bring two candidates for Council over the finish line with her to take control of Council.

This bit of intrigue assumes that 2009 will mirror 2005 and that the Republican Party will once again fail to run any candidates for Scranton’s mayoral and council races. Then again, if that occurs, none of these races will likely be over following the Primary. Democrats will likely seek write-in votes on the Republican line and use that as their second chance at maintaining their seat.

Scranton’s politics are nothing if not amusing.

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