COUDERSPORT — The unofficial results from Tuesday’s general election show Democrat Barry Hayman and Republicans Nancy Grupp and Paul Heimel will be the next Potter County Commissioners.
Hayman received 1,463 votes, Grupp received 3,234 votes and Heimel received 3,257.
Heimel, an incumbent, and Grupp beat out David Buckler in the May primary to be on the ballot. It was an extremely close primary race; Heimel had 1,505 votes and Grupp had 1,493 votes. But right behind Grupp was David Buckler with 1,489 votes. Each party is allowed to nominate two candidates with the top three vote getters to appear on the November ballot. Hayman was the only Democrat in the running, received 650 votes in the primary, securing a place on the general election ballot.
If these results become official, Heimel, Grupp and Hayman will start serving in January 2020. Two of the current commissioners, Doug Morley and Susan Kefover, decided not to run for reelection.
Hayman said he’s pleased with the results and is looking forward to getting started. The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania is holding a new commissioner workshop later this month that he plans to attend. He has also been working closely with the current board to learn the ropes.
“It’s been helpful working with the current board. Susan Kefover has been gracious with her time and has gone above and beyond the normal call,” Hayman said. He said she’s invited him and Grupp to various events and meetings to keep them in the loop and help them get acclimated.
“They’ve all been gracious, but Susan has really been like a mentor to me,” Hayman said.
This isn’t the first time Hayman ran for county commissioner; he said this time was different because it wasn’t as competitive as past elections.
“...There were only three of us running for three spots, so it wasn’t quite so do-or-die. I didn’t get close to Susan Kefover results, but I did do better than (my) previous times,” Hayman said.
Hayman thanks his family who supported him through the campaign, the members of the Potter County Democratic Party and everyone who helped with his campaign and who voted for him.
“Our former leader (of the Potter County Democratic Party), Arnie Haskins, was just tireless in the things he did to promote the party and my candidacy,” Hayman said. Haskins died in May.
“I’ve thought a lot about him, but especially last night. I don’t think anyone would have been happier,” Hayman said.
Heimel said he’s feeling confident and is eager to get going.
“There’s been quite a bit of communication between the three nominees before the vote being taken because there’s such a large transition that needs to take place over the next couple months,” Heimel said. Over the current board’s 12-year term together, Heimel said they’ve worked hard to create a firm foundation. He said there’s a great opportunity to build on what is being left for the new board.
The three candidates all have a similar message and vision, which is promising, Heimel said.
Moving forward, Heimel sees a smooth transition.
“Fortunately we all know each other pretty well, there’s been quite a bit of communication between the candidates and the current board on specific issues. We’ve discussed individual strengths and plan to divide the responsibilities that make the most sense,” Heimel said. “I’m very optimistic.”
He said he’s had a great relationship with Grupp and Hayman before he started serving the county and sees that continuing.
The county’s comprehensive plan can be looked at as a blueprint for the incoming Board of Commissioners, Heimel said.
“It’s the first time in decades that the goals and the strategies to achieve them are put in place with a large volume of public input,” Heimel said.
“The county has some very, very serious challenges and some very promising opportunities right now as we enter a new decade. I do believe that given the population reduction and given the aging of our population here that it is important we put together a concerted effort and a strategy to turn that around in this new decade. I believe there are great opportunities to that,” he said.
Grupp is also ready for January and said the guidance of Morley and Kefover has helped a lot.
“I am looking forward to working with Paul and Barry and am sure we will make a great team. Our retiring commissioners, Doug and Susan, have graciously offered to help make it a smooth transition and I am sure we will be able to hit the ground running in January,” Grupp wrote in a text message.
Though it’s a new board, the three have been involved in the community in various aspects and have an idea of some challenges that lie ahead.
“As a team I believe we are well aware of some of the major challenges we face in Potter County and will be diligent in seeking solutions together,” Grupp wrote. “I am excited and ready for January and promise to do my utmost to serve the residents of Potter County, God’s Country,” she wrote.
“I would like to thank everyone who encouraged, supported and voted for me,” Grupp wrote.
In other county-wide races, Glenn Darke II (R) received 3,929 votes for Potter County sheriff, Krista M. Miller (R) received 4,026 votes for Potter County treasurer, Nicole F. Larsen (R) received 4,060 votes for Potter County register and recorder, Kathy Schroeder (R) received 4,076 votes for Potter County prothonotary/clerk of courts. There were no Democrat candidates running for these positions.
Three candidates were in the running for the Potter County board of auditors, which had three seats open. Michele L. Gledhill (D) received 1,255 votes, Jeannie Stuckey (R) received 3,509 votes and Pauline A. Kleintop (R) received 3,067 votes.
For Judge of the Superior Court, a state-wide race, Megan McCarthy King (R) and Daniel D. McCaffery (D) won the election, with 120,2198 and 1,210,242 votes respectively.
The county’s voter turn-out was around 42%, Sandy Lewis, director of elections said.
“It’s a decent size for a fall election,” Lewis said.
There weren’t any major issues with the new voting machines, Lewis said. There were a few minor things, but it was mostly human error, like not inserting the card correctly.
Several write-in votes were cast throughout the county for many local races, like township supervisors, and will not be official until late next week. The board of elections will meet on Friday to begin the official count and continue next Tuesday, as the county offices are closed on Monday for Veterans Day.