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Editorial: Jim Tierney's Work Praised

Editor: Now that all of the local election board responsibility has been concluded, we would like to thank all of our partners who helped make this past general election work, despite the adverse circumstances.

The bipartisan tone that we tried to set carried over to many different offices and to the different political parties and candidates, all working toward the common goal of having an election above reproach, and with the utmost integrity. To the extent that we, as the election board, were able to achieve that goal, the efforts of many partners need to be recognized.

Perhaps attorney James F. Tierney IV should be first. As the solicitor to the election board, he made our essential work his priority, and his work product was timely and consistently legally sound. Our challenges were many, and his ability to research the myriad of legal issues confronting the election board enabled us to keep current on the election calendar. Mr. Tierney’s sound legal advice was irreplaceable.

Paul Taramelli, chief clerk to the county commissioners, performed admirably all the many formidable tasks we requested of him. He marshaled the resources of county government, including those of the Lackawanna County Coordinated Transportation group, who also deserve our thanks for their proficiency at transporting election materials, first to St. Mary’s Center and next to the Office of Voter Registration. Mr. Taramelli coordinated our efforts with the sheriff’s office. We thank the sheriff and his deputies for a superb job of providing security on each van and at the site of the unofficial count.

The Lackawanna County district attorney’s office did a first-rate job of providing comprehensive video surveillance security for the unofficial count.

Interestingly, when county employees were told the task, it was their innovation, their planning and their execution of the tasks that made this election work. We never micromanaged. Judge Munley and I merely defined our needs and county employees stepped up to the challenge of formulating and implementing efficient workable plans.

Special acknowledgment to the Bureau of Elections, Office of Voter Registration and its staff, Marion Medallis, Cathy Hardaway, Charlie Spano and others. Faced with the decertification of new election technology between the primary and general elections, they faced a daunting and unprecedented challenge and yet they, too, responded superbly. They found new technology, educated poll workers and judges of election, candidates and party operatives. They also helped arrange and secure ballot transportation while performing their customary responsibilities. Their achievements superimposed on their normal job descriptions deserve to be acknowledged as well.

Additionally, we were blessed with the bipartisan cooperation of attorney Harry McGrath, the Democratic Party chairman, and Paul Catalano, the Republican Party chairman. They both provided bipartisan watchers on each transport van to accompany the deputy sheriff. They also provided counting assistance when the slow pace of new technology became apparent. In short, they did everything we asked of them in a constructive and bipartisan fashion.

The bipartisan spirit continued in the superb board of review that we appointed for election night issues. Two Democratic attorneys, Morey Myers and Henry Burke, worked seamlessly with the two Republican attorneys, Richard S. “Sandy” Campagna and Ernest Gazda. All of their decisions needed to be unanimous and their bipartisan cooperation provided yet another example for all to follow. Their burden was greatly underestimated and the duration of their commitment was much longer than anticipated. Their determination to press on to completion was greatly appreciated.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Pedro Cortes and his office recognized the election challenges facing Lackawanna County. They stepped up to assist us technically and financially.

The other partnership that arose out of this election was the one with the media. Broadcast media were great in covering the new electronically tabulated paper ballots, but perhaps The Scranton Times-Tribune best educated the electorate. Their cogent articles along with the accompanying photographs operated like a well- written textbook to educate the electorate as to what to expect from their third new voter technology change in two calendar years. Their formidable task was well performed by their reporters, photographers and their editorial staff.

Finally, we thank the voters, who took the time to learn the new voting system and come out and cast their vote. The electorate was the final partner who made this process a successful one.

Many thanks to all, the government, the media and the electorate, for all of their good work. When good people work together in a bipartisan fashion, great things can be accomplished for the public which we all serve.