Luzerne County Council and DA say they have standing to continue electoral calendar trial
In a case filed Thursday, the Luzerne County Council and County District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce argued that they had the legal capacity to file a case challenging the county election commission’s decision to hold the elections. from DA on November 2.
The five-citizen volunteer electoral council argued earlier this month that the dispute should be dismissed because the council and Sanguedolce lack that authority.
In separate new documents, the council and the prosecutor explained why they believed the court should dismiss the electoral council’s preliminary objection to the lack of standing.
The electoral council maintained that the council, as a legislative branch, was limited to approving or rejecting the county director’s recommendations on whether to initiate or end a dispute on behalf of the county, and the director did not never recommended bringing an action against the board.
Thursday’s council response said nothing in the county’s self-government charter “limits the county council’s power to otherwise initiate litigation on behalf of Luzerne County or the county council.” He added that the Council of Charter Member States will have all “necessary, inherent, implied and ancillary powers” to carry out its duties and functions under the Charter and other applicable laws.
Regarding Sanguedolce, the electoral committee argued that Sanguedolce could not continue the action in its official capacity, as the prosecutor’s office as an entity will always have a head and “has no interest in whether an election is being organized in November 2021 to fill this post “. He stated that Sanguedolce may have a personal interest but does not testify in a personal capacity.
Sanguedolce’s response on Thursday said he brought the action in his official capacity to ensure that another county government agency does not “encroach upon his independent office, diminish his authority and cut short. unacceptably the length of his constitutional mandate “.
As the current incumbent, Sanguedolce has “an important and palpable interest in ensuring that the powers of his office are not eroded by the Luzerne County Electoral Council and other county officials,” he said. -he declares. Interfering with and “invading” the mandate of the incumbent prosecutor “undoubtedly diminishes” Sanguedolce’s powers as prosecutor and “interrupts the consistency in the succession of office holders” provided for by state law, a- he declared.
The Council and Sanguedolce filed the lawsuit against the board in county court last month, saying the race should not be on the ballot until 2023 with an elected four-year term.
This stems from conflicting interpretations of what must happen now that Sanguedolce occupies the seat vacated by former DA Stefanie Salavantis.
A majority of the electoral board concluded that the state’s new legislation requires the seat to be on the ballot in November for a two-year term. The county’s Democratic and Republican party organizations each had the option of nominating a candidate to appear on the ballot. Republicans chose Sanguedolce and Democrats were unable to nominate a candidate, citing the reluctance of potential candidates to engage in such a short window amid the uncertainty of the still-ongoing legal dispute.
The new state law states that the first DA assistant serves “until the first Monday in January following the next municipal elections taking place at least 90 days after the vacancy occurs.”
The legal position of the electoral office is that the new law requires the race to be on the ballot in November, as it is the next municipal election.
In the contract, the board and DA argue in court that the race cannot be on the ballot until the 2023 primary, as candidates must be selected through a primary within a year municipal election, and the vacancy came too late for candidates to run for the May primary of this year. .
Another joint council / DA file on Thursday again provided legal arguments for a November 2023 election. Whatever date DA’s next election – in November or 2023 – has to be for a four-year term, says the folder.
“At a bare minimum, plaintiffs are entitled to a preliminary injunction prohibiting the Electoral Council from holding an election for the Luzerne County DA office on November 2, 2021, for a term of only two years,” he said.
The arbitration was assigned to Robert J. Shenkin, a senior judge for Chester County.
The three parties in the county have retained the services of an external legal advisor: Selingo Guagliardo LLC for the electoral council, Stevens & Lee for the council and Kleinbard LLC for Sanguedolce.