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Blanks get 2 county council candidates’ petitions tossed

Luzerne County Election Bureau Director Leonard Piazza rejected the nomination petitions of county council candidates Edward Brominski and Eileen Sorokas on Thursday because they did not write “Luzerne County” in the electoral district section of the petition.

The law requires candidates to fill in several blanks so the identity of the candidate and office he or she is seeking is clear to voters signing the petition, Piazza said.

Sorokas and Brominski said they filled in the blanks that indicated they were seeking signatures of county registered Democrats to get them on the ballot in the county council race, but they were unclear what should be written under electoral district.

Both candidates said they called the county Election Bureau to find out what should be written in the electoral district blank and were instructed that they may leave it blank.

Piazza said there’s no way to verify their claim but said it doesn’t matter because the instruction packet provided to candidates explains that Luzerne County must be entered in that line.

Candidates are not allowed to enter the county in the blank after the signatures have been obtained because the preamble is supposed to be completed before petitions are circulated, Piazza said.

Democrats and Republicans must secure 250 signatures to get on the ballot in the county council race. Petitions are due 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Brominski, a former county commissioner from Swoyersville, said he obtained more than 500 signatures and plans to challenge the petition rejection in court.

“I was flabbergasted,” Brominski said. “My attorney feels that Leonard has no authority to do this.”

Sorokas, of Wilkes-Barre, said she spent days visiting businesses and attending political functions to obtain 367 signatures. She does not know if she will have time to obtain 250 signatures from scratch and said she is hopeful that Brominski will win his legal challenge, which could then force the election bureau to accept her petition as well.

Sorokas said she read the candidate packet and was still unclear about the electoral district, which is why she called the office.

“They had told me that I should leave that line blank because it says Luzerne County on top of the petition,” Sorokas said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen now.”

Piazza said at least four other county council candidates filed their paperwork with Luzerne County entered in the electoral district line.

He said a blank electoral district line in a petition has been deemed a “fatal defect” by courts. He also noted that his office has two days to review and potentially reject nominating petitions, which means candidates who wait until next week to file may have no time to rectify errors.

“The last thing I want to do is reject a petition when I see candidates come in after working hard to obtain their signatures,” Piazza said. “It pains me just as much as it does the candidate.”

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