What’s on your Ballot? 161st District Edition

This midterm election, the town of Swarthmore is well-represented in the polls. Three out of five positions on the ballot include candidates who are residents of the town and its immediate surroundings.  Swarthmore was also recently moved into the 5th congressional district, which includes Delaware County and a portion of South Philadelphia, due to an order from the State Supreme Court that the Assembly redraw its congressional map. Here’s a guide to each race and how to vote.

Voting in Swarthmore

Students who wish to vote locally this election rather than by absentee ballot in their home states must register with their dorm addresses. This is because students who live north of the train tracks vote at the Rutledge School while the polling place for students who live in dorms such Mary Lyons and NPPR Apartments is CADES. Residents cannot vote early or by mail. It should also be noted that if you registered while living in one dorm, you will vote at that same polling place the next year, regardless of where you live, unless you re-register.

State House

Wallingford resident Leanne Krueger-Braneky’s seat as the State House representative for the 161st legislative district is an interesting example of the tight margins that make local political participation critical for students of the college. She won by a margin of 597 votes when she was elected in a 2015 special election; 90 percent of the 615 students of the college who voted in the election voted for Krueger-Braneky. She was also the first woman to fill the seat and this year, she has pushed for a bill that would define sexual harassment under state law. Prior to her election, she worked on a committee that advocates for bringing green jobs to Philadelphia.

Patti Rodgers-Morrisette, Krueger-Braneky’s Republican challenger this midterm, is a resident of the nearby Swarthmorewood neighborhood of Ridley Township. She is a realtor and former Republican committee member and election machine inspector.  She also ran against Krueger-Braneky in the 2016 elections, but has not held major political office before.

State Senate

Swarthmore mayor Tim Kearney is challenging incumbent Republican Tom McGarrigle for the State Senate seat. McGarrigle, a Springfield business owner, was elected to the State Senate in 2014, before which he served on the Delaware County Council for 7 years. He was also endorsed by the Philadelphia AFL-CIO. Kearney owns an architecture firm with his wife. He previously served as chair of the Swarthmore Borough Planning Commission.

House of Representatives

Mary Gay Scanlon (D), who has a campaign office across from PPR, is a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in two elections. She is running in both the special election for the 7th district, which Governor Tom Wolf scheduled to coincide with the midterm general elections and in the general race for the new 5th district. Residents of Swarthmore were previously cut out of the 7th district, so they will only vote in the 5th district general race.

Scanlon is an attorney who has been the national Pro Bono Counsel of law firm Ballard Spahr LLP since 2003.  She has defended immigrants affected by Trump’s travel ban, She was also formerly president of the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board.

Her opponent, Pearl Kim (R), is a South Korean immigrant and former special victims prosecutor of domestic violence and human trafficking charges. Kim has also spoken about the #MeToo movement as a sexual assault survivor.

In part thanks to the redistricting, Scanlon is nearly guaranteed the House seat for the 5th district; Five Thirty Eight reported a 99.9% chance that she will win. However, the 7th district is majority Republican. This makes the race to fill former incumbent Pat Meehan’s seat much more competitive. The 7th district is voting for a new House representative to be sworn in in January, after Meehan’s term would have ended.


Scanlon, Kim, Krueger-Braneky and Rodgers-Morrisette are part of a large spike in female candidates running for state and national offices in Pennsylvania this fall — a record 126 will be on the ballot. The race for the House seat for the 5th district is historic because a woman has never represented Delaware County in Congress before, and after this race, it is guaranteed that one will.


Senate

Up the ballot, the Senate seat occupied by incumbent Democrat Bob Casey Jr. is being challenged by three opponents, one of whom is Republican Congressman Lou Barletta. Barletta has served as the congressional representative of the 11th district since 2011. Casey has served as senator since 2007 and prior to that was Pennsylvania state treasurer and auditor general. Casey has a roughly 15-point lead on Barletta, making it unlikely that the seat will change hands. However, Politico named Barletta a candidate to watch early this year because of his endorsement from Trump; Barletta also served on Trump’s presidential transition team. The other two challengers, Dale Kerns and Neal Green, are running for the Libertarian and Green parties, respectively.

Governor  

Governor Tom Wolf, who has held the position since 2015, has a comfortable, roughly 20-point lead in preliminary polls. Previously a member of the Peace Corps in India and a business owner, Wolf oversaw the redrawing of the Congressional map that the Republican-led State Assembly was ordered to complete this Jan. He was the subject of recent controversy over his stance on resettlement of Syrian refugees in Pennsylvania. His running-mate, Democrat John Fetterman, defeated incumbent Lt. Governor Democrat Mike Stack in the primaries, a historic first for the state of Pennsylvania. He is the mayor of a small town, Braddock, that is mostly working-class.

On Oct. 12, Wolf’s Republican opponent, Scott Wagner, remarked in a Facebook video on his campaign page that he would “stomp all over… [Wolf’s] face with golf spikes.” Wagner is a former state senator who was elected in a special election in 2014, then resigned in 2016 to focus on campaigning. He was endorsed by President Trump. Wagner’s running-mate is Jeff Bartos (R), who has no prior political experience. He has worked for a law firm and now owns a luxury home construction company and an energy firm.

There are also two more pairs of candidates running against Wolf: Libertarians Ken Krawchuk and Kathleen Smith and Green Party candidates Paul Glover and Jocolyn Bowser-Bostick.

Bayliss Wagner

Bayliss '21, currently a managing editor of the Phoenix, is from Vienna, VA. She is majoring in history, minoring in computer science and English. She has written news for four years and hopes to continue doing so for many more. Find her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/baylisswagner

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