Nomination packets available for Luzerne County Government Study Commission candidates

Nomination paper packets are now available for citizens interested in running for Luzerne County’s proposed government study commission in the April 23 primary election, county Election Director Eryn Harvey said Thursday.

Harvey said nomination papers must be used to collect signatures — instead of traditional candidate petitions — because the study commission is nonpartisan.

Because the study commission nomination process is unlike others, Harvey urges prospective candidates to attend a special training session Monday or watch an online recording of the session that will be subsequently posted at

For example, up to seven candidates can team up as a group to collect signatures on the same nomination papers, eliminating the need for them to secure them individually, she said. Also, a committee must be identified on the papers to name a replacement if a nominee vacancy occurs, she said.

“I am encouraging anyone planning to run for the study commission to participate in the training because the procedures are a little more in-depth,” Harvey said.

Candidates must obtain at least 200 signatures from county registered voters on their nomination papers. The window to collect signatures is between the thirteenth and tenth Tuesdays before the primary, or from Tuesday (Jan. 23) to Feb. 13.

County voters will simultaneously decide if they want to convene a commission and choose seven citizens to serve on the panel. The selected seven would only serve if the referendum passes.

The only eligibility requirement for study commission members is that they be registered voters of the county, according to the state’s home rule handbook.

Nomination packets are available during business hours in the election bureau, which is located on the second floor of the county’s Penn Place Building, 20 N. Pennsylvania Ave., in Wilkes-Barre, Harvey said.

If a commission is activated, the panel must examine the county’s current home rule structure that took effect in 2012 and decide if it wants to prepare and recommend changes. If so, the commission would be free to recommend alterations to the existing charter, an entirely new charter or a return to the prior state code system in which three elected commissioners and multiple row officers handled decisions that now rest with an 11-member council and appointed manager.

According to the study commission nomination paper filing instructions Harvey supplied:

Multiple candidates may be nominated by a single nomination paper, which is why the county packet includes space for up to seven candidates if any choose to run as a group.

A commission candidate or candidates must complete the information section prior to obtaining signatures. That includes identifying a “vacancy committee” of three to five people empowered to nominate someone to fill a candidate vacancy due to death or withdrawal. There are no special qualifications for vacancy committee members.

Regarding voters signing petitions, there is no party affiliation requirement. Any registered voter in the county can sign a study commission nomination paper. Prior to obtaining a signature, the person collecting signatures should verify a signer is a county registered voter. Voter lists are available from the bureau.

Voter signers must complete all fields in their signature line (printed name, address and date of signing), with no ditto marks permitted.

The circulator — the person who carries the document door-to-door and obtains signatures — must be a registered county voter. After all signatures are obtained, the circulator must complete and sign the “affidavit of qualified elector” at the bottom of the nomination paper in the presence of a notary public.

Candidates also must complete a candidate information and data processing sheet and sign a candidate’s affidavit in the presence of a notary. A notarized waiver should be filed if candidates don’t intend to form a political committee or receive/spend more than $250 on the campaign.

A statement of financial interest must be filed in the county manager’s office, with a copy also submitted to the election bureau.

Nomination papers and all required documents must be filed with the election bureau before 4:30 p.m. Feb. 13.

The instructions Harvey compiled make it clear that filers must ensure all documents are correct and complete, saying the election bureau is not responsible for errors and omissions.

Monday’s training session, which also covers nomination petition requirements for Republican county committee candidates, will be at 2 p.m. in Room 301 at Penn Place.

The Republican party has two committee seats in each of the 186 voting precincts, or a total 372, officials said. Committee candidates must secure at least 10 signatures to appear on the primary ballot.

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


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