Nalitz to rule on petition complaint

March 22, 2013

WAYNESBURG – Greene County Judge William Nalitz heard arguments Friday on a challenge to the nominating petition of incumbent Monongahela Township supervisor James Rumble. Nalitz has until March 27 to rule.

The complaint, filed by five township residents, alleges that Rumble’s petition contains five invalid signatures. If Nalitz agrees, the petition would be one short of the required 10 signatures required for candidacy.

In court Friday, Trudi Monahan of Dilliner, who is among those who filed the complaint, told Nalitz the Greene County Elections Office had verified that at least one of the signers on Rumble’s petition is not a registered voter.

Judith Rizor, an administrative assistant in the elections office, told the court that Susan G. Malone had been purged from the voting rolls after she missed voting in two federal elections. According to Rizor, Malone last voted in 1997 and her registration was canceled in 2010.

Rumble’s attorney, Dennis Makel, questioned the legality of purging voters. Nalitz responded that it was under the federal law that purging was disallowed, not state law.

When asked if the voters are notified prior to being removed, Rizor said, “We send them letters and if we don’t hear from them, then they are taken off of the rolls.”

A second name that Monahan argued should be invalidated was that of voter Jerry Shiflett. Monahan noted that Shiflett is not a registered Democrat and therefore would be ineligible to sign Rumble’s petition to run as a Democrat.

Rizor told the court that Shiflett is listed on the voting rolls as NF, which she clarified stands for no affiliation. That would also render him ineligible to sign a petition for a Democratic candidate.

The other names in question on the petition are George Gaynor, Joanne Rumble and Jerome Dorsey. Each of these people allegedly signed the petition of Gary Cline, also seeking the office of supervisor, at least a day before signing Rumble’s petition, according to Monahan. Monahan told Nalitz she believed in each case the signature is valid on the petition that was signed first.

Makel, citing a section of Pennsylvania Election Law, argued that the complaint was not complete. He further stated that he believed the law required those persons whose signatures were in question to be in the courtroom to testify. Makel added that he believed someone else from the elections office also should have been there to testify. Based on these points, he asked that the complaint be dismissed.

Nalitz said he believed a prima facie case had been presented by the objectors to the petition. In light of that, he said he would review the case and issue an “appropriate order” by March 27.

Other parties to the complaint against Rumble are Larry and Tina Rogerson, Marjorie Rudolph and Mike Rudolph Sr., who is the third candidate for the six-year position.

Tara Kinsell started her career in journalism with the National Geographic Insider Magazine and the Gaithersburg Gazette Newspaper in Montgomery County, Md. Tara has written and photographed sports, features and news stories for the Herald Standard, Greene County Messenger and Albert Gallatin Weekly. She holds degrees in journalism and graphic design from Waynesburg College, now Waynesburg University, and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, respectively.

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