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Erie GOP County Council Members Eyeing Reelection Stay On Election Board

Erie County Courthouse

Are they or aren’t they?

And should they or shouldn’t they?

Those are the questions in Erie County as two Republican representatives of the county’s Board of Election have refused to recuse themselves from participation on the seven-member panel. And Democrats are not happy with their decision.

At issue, the fact that Republican council members Brian Shank and Ellen Schauerman currently hold the seats that will be on the ballot in November.

Erie County Administrative Code states that “Any member of the Board who is a candidate for an elective public office shall abstain from voting on Board action for the duration of his candidacy.”

To their credit, neither Shank nor Schauerman have declared that they are officially running for their seats. They have also not said that they are not running. Therein lies the issue.

The term “candidacy” as defined by 25 P.S. §3241 (a) shall mean Members of County Council or any individual who seeks nomination 103 or election to public office, whether or not the individual is nominated or elected. They are deemed to be a candidate if they: (a) have received a contribution, made an expenditure or given consent for another person or committee to receive a contribution or make an expenditure, for the purpose of influencing his/her nomination or election to such office; (b) has taken the action(s) necessary under the laws of the Commonwealth to qualify himself/herself for nomination or election to such office.

Erie County Democratic Party Chairman Jim Wertz is calling for the pair to step away, stating that until they declare they are not candidates, they should be considered as running for reelection.

“That’s been past practice,” Wertz told the Erie Times-News. “Every county councilman who’s been in this position has (stepped down from the board), and so I don’t know why that would change now. It’s never been a partisan issue before.”

He noted that two Democratic council members – Mary Rennie and Terry Scutella – have both stepped aside from the election board because they’re on the ballot this year.

Shank argued that county laws do not specify when someone becomes a candidate.

“My interpretation is that until you actually turn in a petition and it’s accepted by a staff member and notarized officially, saying ‘Yes, we’ve accepted your petition, we’ve signed that petition and done the notary work,’ — that’s when I think you are actually legally a candidate,” Shank said.

One of the roles of the county Board of Elections is to “determine the sufficiency of petitions and affidavits as to completeness — certify rejection or acceptance.”

This could put both Shank and Schauerman in a position to reject the petitions of possible opponents for their 5th and 7th District seats.

Candidate petitions became available on Feb. 14. They must be filed — with a minimum of 10 signatures for County Council candidates — by March 7.

3 Responses

  1. I’m fairly certain the time to circulate petitions just started so no one would be able to be a candidate until they had signatures anyway. Feel like one would have to wait until then before removing oneself? This seems like the Democrat chair is trying to gaslight a nothing sandwich to earn cheap political points given the timing of putting this out so immediately…

  2. Shank needs to read the law, if he is literate. If not, he needs to have somebody read it to him. His opinion of when somebody officially becomes a candidate is nonsense, and not the law.

  3. Shank is an extremist. Drove around with a giant Mastriano sign attached to his vehicle on a trailer last year. He also got blown out by 23 points in his run for sheriff two years ago. He just exists to stir the pot. Not shocked at all by this.


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