Wilkes-Barre Township resident Alex Milanes did not secure enough votes Tuesday to land a Republican nomination for five Luzerne County Council seats, according to unofficial results.
County Republicans chose the following to advance to the November general election: Paul DeFabo, Wilkes-Barre; Kathy Dobash, Hazleton; Sue Rossi, Butler Township, and two incumbents — Harry Haas, Kingston, and Eugene Kelleher, Dallas Township.
The five Democratic contenders were guaranteed primary nominations because they faced no competition from others in the party. They are: Renee Ciaruffoli-Taffera, Larksville; Michael Giamber, Fairmount Township; Richard “Kick” Heffron, Dallas; incumbent Linda McClosky Houck, Kingston, and Eileen Sorokas, Wilkes-Barre.
The race will heat up as November approaches because the 10 winners will compete for five council slots.
Incumbent Rick Williams, an Independent, also is expected to be added to the general election roster. Independent and third-party candidates must collect at least 633 signatures from voters to get on the ballot in the council race.
Voters are free to vote for any five candidates, regardless of their political registration, in the general election. The Republican nominees will appear first on the November ballot in the order of their primary vote count because the governor is a Republican.
That means Haas will be listed first, with 6,554 votes, followed by Rossi, 6,509; Kelleher, 6,413; Dobash, 6,293, and DeFabo, 4,404.
Sorokas was the highest vote-getter on the Democratic ticket, with 13,352 votes. She was followed by: McClosky Houck, 12,206; Ciaruffoli-Taffera, 11,082; Heffron, 10,909, and Giamber, 9,917.
Political observers have mixed opinions on whether ballot position provides an advantage.
The five council members elected in November will serve with six council members in seats that don’t expire until the end of 2015: Edward Brominski, Jim Bobeck, Rick Morelli, Tim McGinley, Stephen J. Urban and Stephen A. Urban.
Council members receive $8,000 annually. Council approves the budget and larger contracts, appoints members to outside county boards and revises the county’s ethics, personnel and administrative codes in addition to hiring and evaluating the manager.
Pointing to the low voter turnout Tuesday of 19 percent, Ciaruffoli-Taffera urged voters to play an active role in November.
“I hope the citizens do their due diligence and research to find the best possible candidates so we can get home rule on track,” said the Larksville resident. Dobash, of Hazleton, thanked voters for “believing in me.”