Atwood Borough slate the exception in elections
Atwood Borough is the state’s smallest borough. It might also be the most civic-minded.
While other areas with larger populations struggle to get people to run for office, Atwood, with a population of just over a 100 people, has a candidate for each of its offices for the upcoming election.
Atwood has eight positions up for election this cycle — two auditor positions, four council seats, mayor and constable — and a candidate for each, while larger municipalities with fewer offices up for election failed to field any candidates.
Pine Township, with a population nearly five times larger than Atwood, had no candidates file petitions to run for any of its open slots — supervisor, auditor or constable.
Richard Henderson, a council member who is running for re-election in Atwood, said the borough doesn’t have too many problems finding people interested in office, because Atwood is a tight-knit community in which everyone knows each other.
“We keep a pretty good eye on what’s going on (in the community),” he said.
Other communities in the county also have full-slates of candidates — Cowanshannock, Redbank and West Franklin Township and the boroughs of Leechburg, Rural Valley and Worthington — but none are as small as Atwood.
Some, such as Elderton Borough and Hovey, Burrell and Wayne Townships, are like Pine Township, with no candidates filing petitions to run for open positions.
Homer Pendleton, a Ford City councilman, said he believes that most people shy away from office because of potential criticism or lack of time, not because they are not interested in their community.
“Nobody wants to be involved in politics,” he said. “It’s just too time-consuming. There’s meetings going on all the time.”
Ford City has an open slot for a paid assessor, but does have candidates for its council and constable positions.
“People want services and we try to provide it for them,” Pendleton said, adding that a tighter borough budget in a poor economy makes the job much tougher.
The fear of either having to cut a popular service or raise taxes can scare a potential candidate away, he said.
“You get criticized no matter what,” Pendleton said. “We don’t get too many ‘at-a-boy’s’.”