How will Indiana County’s primary election ballots remind you of pop singer Taylor Swift?
Blank Space, that’s how.
It’s municipal election year in the political cycle, when voters get to select county row officers, borough council members, township supervisors, constables, auditors and some mayors where there may be midterm vacancies.
With the 4 p.m. Tuesday deadline passed for candidates to declare their intentions to get their names on the ballots for the May 21 Republican and Democratic primaries, county officials have unveiled the fields for hundreds of offices up for election this year.
In 11 of the county’s 38 boroughs, townships and home rule municipalities, not a soul has stepped forward to sit in governance of their communities.
School board races are a completely different matter, because few seats have drawn no candidates. In most school districts, the number of candidates equals the number of seats up for election, and in many there’s outright competition, meaning that some candidates may be left out of the running when November comes around.
But for folks in Armagh, Buffington Township, Clymer, Creekside, Ernest, Glen Campbell, Marion Center, Pine Township, Plumville, Shelocta and Smicksburg, there are no candidates to check on either the Democratic or Republican ballots.
Republicans have forsaken the seats available in Burrell Township, Green Township, Montgomery Township, West Wheatfield Township and Young Township.
Democrats have shunned opportunities for local election in Canoe Township, Cherryhill Township, Cherry Tree Borough, Conemaugh Township, East Mahoning Township, East Wheatfield Township, North Mahoning Township, Rayne Township, Washington Township and West Mahoning Township.
With the fields of competition set, in terms of candidates who filed conventional nominating petitions, some races have become noteworthy with some questions answered and new questions arising.
• Indiana County board of commissioners: Along with the candidates who published their campaign announcements, Dan Wilson, of White Township, has joined the five-person field seeking two nominations on the Republican ballot. Bob Colgan, Robin Gorman, Mike Keith and Maria Jack previously announced their bids to replace retiring commissioners Michael Baker and Rodney Ruddock.
Incumbent Sherene Hess and challenger Donald Lancaster are alone on the Democratic side with an open path to the November general election.
• Indiana County district attorney: Announced candidates Democrat Patrick Dougherty, the current D.A., and Republican Robert Manzi are alone on their ballots. The true competition will come in the fall general election campaign.
• Indiana County sheriff: Current Sheriff Robert Fyock and retired state trooper Bradley Overdorff will have a race on the Republican side in the spring, while Democrat Louis Sacco has a clear path to the November race.
• Indiana County board of auditors: Brian J. Croft has surfaced as a candidate for the Democratic nomination along with James Smith, who published an announcement earlier. Four Republicans who publicized their campaigns — Bonni Dunlap, Donna Cupp, Laura Herrington and Emily Losier — are in the spring race.
• Indiana County prothonotary and clerk of courts: No Democrat has chosen to challenge Republican Randy Degenkolb, who appears poised for re-election in the fall.
• Indiana Area School District: With five seats available this year, voters on only the Democratic side will have choices. But current board members John Barbor and Douglas Steve won’t be among them. Neither has filed for re-election.
Cinda Brode and Tamie Blank have cross-filed for both parties’ nominations and Jessica Maniccia Smith has filed as a Democratic candidate.
• Indiana Borough: In a community that a generation ago was governed by 11 Republicans and one Democrat on the borough council, the GOP is a ghost of its former influence on local governance.
Incumbent Kaycee Newell is the only Republican who has filed for any of the seven seats up for election this year. Democrats, meanwhile, have six candidates in the primary races.
• Homer-Center School District: The race here is crowded on both ballots as six candidates have cross-filed in a race for five seats.
Daniel Fabin, Gerald Bertig and Fred Hayes have filed for re-election, but Logan Dellafiora and Justin Smyers will not appear on the ballot. But both successfully campaigned and won election as write-in candidates in 2015.
Challengers from Homer City and Center Township include Michael Schmidt, Leigh Heidenthal, Christa Pontani Palmer and Joe Iezzi Jr. on both ballots, and Sean R. Hankey on the Republican side.
• Center Township board of supervisors: Incumbent Democrat John Bertolino faces three challengers in the primary: Matthew Housholder, Tony Peroli and David Dies. The winner will face Carl George, the lone candidate for the Republican nomination, in November.
As in any election, the assumption of victory is never assured, pending the efforts of candidates who may independently file nominating papers rather than petitions to get their names on the ballots, and write-in candidates who rely on extensive campaigning and word of mouth late in the race to make an impact on the voting.
Complete lists of candidates appearing on the ballot will be published prior to the election in the Gazette.