Original Jurisdiction in the case of In Re: Robert Castellani.
Richard J. Gmerek, Tucker Arensberg, P.C., for petitioners.
Thomas L. Wenger, Wix, Wenger & Weidner, for respondent.
Judge Craig. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 102 Pa. Commw. Page 170]
Three electors of Luzerne County have filed objections to the nomination papers of Robert Castellani to be a Republican candidate for State Senator in the twentieth senatorial district of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania. The objectors averred that the electors who signed those nomination petitions are residents of the twenty-second senatorial district, not residents of the twentieth district. The candidate filed an answer, admitting the averments as to the residence of the signers and also admitting that the nomination petitions and affidavit designate the candidacy as for the twentieth
[ 102 Pa. Commw. Page 171]
senatorial district; however, the candidate denies any candidacy for such district and avers that the candidacy sought is for the twenty-second senatorial district, with the wrong district allegedly being entered on every page by inadvertence. Pursuant to averments under new matter, the answer requests the court to allow an amendment of the nominating petitions and candidate's affidavits to correct the district designation to read "Twenty-Second Senatorial District," and to order the Secretary of the Commonwealth to accept the nominating petitions for a Republican candidacy for the office of State Senator, Twenty-Second District of Pennsylvania.
Pursuant to hearing, the record established that the nominating petitions consist of 25 two-sided pages, all filled in with respect to a candidacy for state senator in the twentieth district. There is no issue as to the adequacy of the total number of signatures, nor has any evidence been presented as to the validity of any particular signature. The Secretary of Commonwealth received the petitions for what they purport on their face, as declaring a candidacy with respect to the twentieth senatorial district.
According to the evidence, the twentieth senatorial district embraces part of Luzerne County and various other counties, but does not include any part of Lackawanna County. The twenty-second senatorial district includes all of Lackawanna County and part of Monroe County but does not include any part of Luzerne County. All of the nomination petition pages declare Lackawanna County as the county of residence of the petition signers. The evidence further showed that, according to the address of the signers, all, or at least a sufficient number, of the signers reside in Lackawanna County and therefore within the twenty-second senatorial district.
[ 102 Pa. Commw. Page 172]
According to 17 affidavits submitted into evidence without objection, the respective circulators of the nomination petitions each represented to all the signers that the candidate sought election to the State Senate from Lackawanna County and/or the twenty-second senatorial district. The affidavits further represent that the signers understood or appeared to understand that they were signing a nomination petition with respect to a Republican senatorial candidate for Lackawanna County in the twenty-second district.
Therefore, the sole issue is whether nomination petitions circulated and signed by residents of the twenty-second senatorial district on behalf of a candidate who resides in that district and who intended to pursue a candidacy for it, but which declare on their face that they are for the twentieth senatorial district, can be amended to show the correct ...