Confusion surrounding Monroeville Council seat cleared up in court
An Allegheny County judge ordered a Monroeville council seat be removed from November’s general election ballots while Monroeville officials agreed to amend its home rule charter to avoid any future confusion.
Judge Joseph James’ ruling comes after Monroeville officials filed a lawsuit against the county elections division in July, hoping to get a judge to remove an unnamed 2nd Ward seat from appearing as a write-in option in the upcoming general election. The seat belongs to Eric Poach, a Democrat, who was appointed in January to fill a vacancy when former Ward 2 Councilman Nick Gresock became mayor.
The unnamed Ward 2 office appeared on Monroeville ballots for the May 15 primary as a write-in option, “creating significant confusion among the voters,” according to Monroeville’s complaint.
The reason the office appeared on the primary ballots, according to the election division’s solicitor, is because Poach circulated an incorrect petition for the office.
The write-in option then received 28 votes, according to the election results. No one received the 10 votes needed to secure the nomination, and no one voted for Poach. No candidates appear on the county’s unofficial candidate list for the seat.
Monroeville Solicitor Rob Wratcher said the municipality will attempt to amend its home rule charter through a ballot question.
“We’ve been doing it the wrong way for so long,” he said.
Poach said he was happy to have the issue resolved at a hearing that lasted under 10 minutes in the City County building in Downtown Pittsburgh on Sept. 4. However, solicitors on both sides, including Poach’s, met with James in the judge’s chambers for 45 minutes before the hearing began.
“It was a simple process. It wasn’t like anyone was doing anything wrong — we were just trying to solve this piece of the puzzle,” Poach said.
The Ward 2 councilman said he intends to run for election in 2019 for a four-year term. His term expires Dec. 31, 2019.