Sunday, May 17, 2015

The LuLac Edition #2908, May 17th, 2015


Wilkes Barre Mayoral candidates George Brown, Darlene Duggins Magdalinski, Tony George Brian Kelly and Republican Frank Sorick. (Photo: Citizen's Voice). 
There are four horses in this race and only two front runners. George Brown and Tony George are running very competitive races. The choice couldn’t be starker. Brown is running on his business record and wants to run the city more efficiently. He has the support of the current administration’s leader and former employees. In the 2011 election that segment of the population was known as the Amesbury block. (Current Judge Bill Amesbury in his elections as District Justice and Judge on Common Pleas could always count on that district of South Wilkes Barre coming out strong for him.) Brown has been all over the city and has promised to do a replay of his role as a Council member by having town meetings. He has run a textbook ad campaign (it reminds me of the late Tom  McLaughlin's effort in 1979 when he won the nomination going away) with all the components covered. In any other election he’d have a cakewalk. 

Brown's plane message running on Saturday. 
Tony George’s greatest asset could be events that are tearing the city apart. George might be in the right place at the right time as crime has intensified. George is a former Police Chief who wants to be tough on crime. Hell let’s face it, every Mayor wants to be tough on crime. But to me, this is a Reagan VS. the Soviet Union thing going on here. The other three candidates say they will make crime a priority. Brian Kelly wants a Police Commissioner, Darlene Duggins Magdalinski wants to reach out to the community she knows, and Brown has a District by District plan. All very logical. But crime has become a visceral issue. My feeling is that when residents, voters or otherwise hear the other candidates speak, they (the voters) think they will try to stop crime. When they hear George speak about battering rams and targeted patrols, they get the feeling he means it. One city resident on the fence until the debate told me that she felt not only would Tony George be tough on crime but would take great in ridding the city of the trash that is causing it. 
 Tony George at his old stomping grounds when he announced his run for Mayor. 
As a candidate George has talked about streets cleaning, neighborhood improvements, clutter clean up and neighborhood business development projects. But it is white noise because people look at him as a crime fighter.
The two camps, Brown’s and George’s are formidable. Brown’s strength represents the established political guard that has run the city for 32 years out of the 40 since the strong Mayor system was adopted.
George’s strength comes from the eight years of the McGroarty administration as well as his involvement in every administration since the strong Mayor form was adopted.
This race is going to go down to the wire. I will be shocked if any candidate wins in a landslide.
As far as the other two Democratic candidates both have run good races. Brian Kelly and Darlene Duggins Magdalinski have brought great things to the table. We should thank them for their involvement and commitment. Perhaps a future administration can use their services.
But that’s Mr. Brown’s or George’s call. And right now what they are involved in is way too close to call.
On the GOP side Frank Sorick might have a fighting chance if he had a party behind him with a little more than a handful of registered voters. Non political people I spoke to said that he won the debate hands down at Wilkes College. But he will be lucky to survive a GOP primary with Democrats trying to get Republicans to write in Mr. Brown or Mr. George.


District A
On the Democratic side, Don Winder, Todd G. Harding, an assistant purchasing agent for the Wilkes-Barre Area School District, Mike Belusko, 54, owner of Belusko’s Garage in Wilkes-Barre and Tommy Sorick, 23, a mechanic are running on the Democratic side. On the GOP side Ray Bernardo is running alone. Harding is connected (school district employee) and the others are going to be fighting for the rest of that pie. This is the seat vacated by George Brown.
District B
Democrats Louis Elmy, is a corrections counselor at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility and full time employment officer for his family, William V. Lewis, 22, owner of an estate liquidation business as well as the son of longtime GOP State Committeeman Bill Lewis, and Ronald D. Trimble Sr., former director of purchasing for the City of Wilkes-Barre.
If I’m a Democrat in this district, I'd go for anybody but Elmy.
On the GOP side Tony Brooks faces off against long time candidate Vince Guarneri who has been around for a while and ran before. Brooks is mounting a write in campaign on the Democratic side too and has a lot of people pulling for him.
District C

Democrats include Jim Burden a former Marine, Beth Gilbert a Political Science Major at Wilkes and Sam Troy a perennial candidate who has become a sad joke in Wilkes Barre politics. It pains me to say that because I had enormous respect for his late father Wilbur. But Sam runs not to win but to spoil the outcome. On the GOP side Steve Urban Junior is running for the seat. He is also running for County Council. The guy likes to keep busy. This seat s being vacated by Marilyn Lavelle.
District D
Councilman Bill Barrett is running for another term. Retired officer Thomas Unvarsky Sr., 70, is Barrett’s sole opposition in the May 19 primary election. Both are running aggressive campaigns.
District E
In my district incumbent Mike Merritt is running against William Smith who is a plumber. I’m torn here because I wrote two letters to Merritt when he was on Council and never got a response. That stinks. I’m bothered by the fact that Smith has not responded to press inquires but he does have signs up. Merritt told the Times Leader that “signs don’t vote”. Yeah well, in this case they do. Merritt seems to have run a campaign that has taken voters in his district for granted. He'll win but not because people have seen him, talked to him or heard from him. I understand he had a loss in the family last year and we are all sorry about that. He has attended all the Council meetings but not many people in his District have heard from him directly. A more prominent candidate might have made this a race.


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