With all the attention focused on the races for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat and gubernatorial mansion, some may have forgotten that we are just two weeks out from special elections for three representatives to the General Assembly.
The 116th legislative district will match Democrat Amilcar Arroyo, Republican Robert Schnee and Libertarian Paul Cwalina to fill the seat vacated by Tarah Toohill who is now a Luzerne County judge.
Arroyo, a native of Peru who resides in Butler Township, has lived in the Hazleton area for 33 years and obtained his U.S. citizenship 28 years ago. He is the editor of El Mensajero magazine.
“I am Hispanic, bilingual in English and Spanish languages and part of the community for 33 years,” said Arroyo. “I know the necessity of making this area an area of ONE community where we can look in the same direction with the same goals.”
Schnee, 62, who resides in Sugarloaf Township, is a retired Hazleton City Authority meter reader. He has been serving on county council since 2016 and is midway through his second, four-year term.
He said he has a reputation for fighting for the elderly, people in need and working families. “I love the people in this area and will do anything in my capability to get them help and funds they need,” he had said.
Cwalina, 58, also of Butler Township, is a small business owner who has previously served as a school director at Wyoming Valley West.
“We can’t keep electing Republicans and Democrats,” he said. “Things will continue to stay the same or get worse.”
There are approximately 33,873 registered voters in the 116th District.
Allegheny County’s Elections Division has begun sending mail-in and absentee ballot packets to voters who will be participating in the special elections to fill state House seats vacated by Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and his chief of staff, Jake Wheatley.
The 24th legislative district pits Democrat Martell Covington against GOP candidate Todd Koger to replace Gainey.
Covington, 34, is a legislative aide to state Senator Jay Costa. Koger, 60, has difficult odds in the heavily Democratic district.
There are approximately 50,000 registered voters in the 24th District.
The 19th legislative district has just one candidate on the ballot – Democrat Aerian Abney, a social worker and community activist. There are approximately 43,000 in the district.
The new legislative boundary maps will not apply to the special elections but will be in effect for the primary.