CHAMBERSBURG — Franklin County Commissioner Bob Thomas will seek to retain his seat on the board by running a write-in campaign in the Nov. 5 election.
In the May primary, Thomas, a six-term incumbent, was the third top Republican vote-getter with 6,881 votes behind sitting Commissioner Dave Keller with 7,195 votes and Greencastle businessman John Flannery with 7,986 votes. Only the top two vote-getters have their names appear on the November ballot.
"Since the primary election in May, I’ve heard from hundreds of voters — Republicans, Democrats and Independents — who were disappointed with the results. So many have encouraged me to do this and are willing to help with the write-in campaign," Thomas said. "I am aware this will not be easy, but with their help, a grass roots, issue oriented campaign might just work.”
A passion for public service
Over the years, Thomas has remained connected and active in many local, state and national boards and agencies including First Start Partnership (formerly Head Start) the county Prison Board, Metropolitan Planning Organization, County Commissioners Association of Pa., Franklin County Area Development Corporation and many more, but he remains especially passionate about helping children and families and admits it would be hard to walk away from those issues if he weren't re-elected.
"Early Education, especially pre-natal to 3 years is important to me," he said. "In early 2017, I pulled together health, education and human services leaders from across the county to discuss a plan to collaborate to achieve better success with children. These efforts led to the creation of Hope from the Start. This initiative is going very well and we have many goals to improve school readiness and behavior. Hope is all about ensuring every child is given the love, care and attention needed so they are ready for kindergarten and ready for life. It is all about strengthening families."
Through is work at the state level, Thomas focused his work as President of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania on mental health by working to form the Behavioral Health Task Force. "Too many people are in Pa. jails due to actions caused by mental illness or brain disease," he said. "This committee identified the issues and came up with solutions. We have succeeded and our work has led to much reform and sharing of best practices for all 67 counties in Pa. to follow."
And his work goes the whole way to Washington.
"In April, I was at the White House discussing criminal justice reform with our nation’s leaders including U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Representative Doug Collins, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee," Thomas said. "I’m still in contact and have developed a list of reform measures that will not just rehabilitate, but will also save tax dollars. Because of this, a team from the White House Office of Innovation will be coming to Franklin County soon to hear from local partners in justice and re-entry."
Getting the vote
Voters who wish to cast ballots for Thomas will need to be ballot-savvy.
The ballot will list Bob Ziobrowski, Sheri Morgan, John Flannery and Dave Keller in that order, according to Jean C. Byers, county deputy chief clerk.
Democratic candidates Ziobrowski and Morgan are listed first because current governor Tom Wolf is a Democrat.
Candidates are then ranked by the number of votes they received, so Flannery's name appears above Keller's, for example.
The instructions on the ballot will say to vote for not more than two candidates, however it is actually the top three vote-getters who will be elected.
With Thomas seeking a write-in vote, casting a ballot in his favor takes some effort on the part of voters.
In order to vote for Thomas, a voter must use a two-step process.
"You would have to write the name on the line and color in the oval in front of the name for it to count," Byers said.
But voters have to make sure they are still only voting for a total of two candidates, meaning only two circles under Commissioner category can be colored in.
If a voter wants to cast a straight-party ballot, it's a little trickier, Byers said.
"If you mark straight Democrat and make no other marks on your ballot, then Bob Ziobrowski and Sheri Morgan get the vote. If you mark straight Republican, then John Flannery and Dave Keller get the vote," Byers said.
Voters wishing to vote straight-party, but want to vote for a candidate of another party in a particular office category can do so, with one tweak.
"If you vote straight Republican or Democrat and write Bob's name and color in the oval beside his name, that mark and that commissioner block overrides the straight party for just that office," Byers explained.
But again, another candidate oval in that category would need to be colored in to ensure two commissioner selections are chosen no matter which party they are affiliated with.
Thomas said despite the challenges of a write-in campaign, he is looking forward to his bid for re-election.
“I have been close to the community all my life. I know the people of the county, I understand the issues and I am actively engaged in the community. Growing up in rural Franklin County, I’m friends of agriculture and understand their issues. As a former firefighter and EMT, I know the plight of the emergency services and am actively engaged," Thomas said. “My goal has always been to make Franklin County an even greater place to live, work and raise a family.”
Contact Andrea Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-762-2151.