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Council Rock School District Voters Could Be Cheated In the Upcoming Primary Election

UPDATE: "After contacting the Board of Elections, my last day [as a Council Rock school board member] is being moved to Feb. 9 to ensure the primary petition process can occur," State Rep. Kristin Marcell told Newtown Patch in an email this afternoon. She failed to return our reporter's call. The original article follows.
From Council Rock school board to Harrisburg, State Rep. Kristin Marcell is sworn in to represent the 178th District.

Kristin Marcell is currently wearing two hats, that of newly elected Pennsylvania state house representative, and another as school board director for the Council Rock School District.

Marcell was appointed to represent Region 9 on the school board in August, 2018 due to the departure of Kyle McKessy, who resigned her seat in July of that year.

Pennsylvania school board directors, who are not compensated, serve four-year terms. Those appointed to fill a vacancy on a school board keep the seat until the next municipal election.

Kristin Marcell retained her seat in the 2019 election cycle and, by a handful of votes, narrowly held on to it in 2021 by just 7 votes.

Three months after winning reelection to the school board in 2021, Marcell announced her candidacy to represent House District 178 in Harrisburg.

Throughout Marcell’s state house campaign, and since assuming her salaried seat to represent the district in Harrisburg, community members have called for her to resign from the school board believing it’s not possible to be effective in both roles at the same time.“Marcell’s diminished participation at board and committee meetings since January clearly illustrates that she is distracted by her campaign,” wrote Newtown resident Marilyn Scarpa in a guest opinion that appeared in the Doylestown Intelligencer.

At the January 16 school board meeting, Marcell announced her resignation as a director, and in an email a few days later informed school board president Ed Salamon it would be effective February 16, according to the Newtown Patch.

Many in the Council Rock district find Marcell’s date of resignation to be problematic.

“[I]f she resigns after Feb. 13th, party leaders get to pick the candidates, who will go directly onto the general election ballot.  In other words, party leaders would take the power that should be in the hands of voters,” said Wrightstown resident Rebecca Tillet.

The power Tillet is referring to is the ability for voters to utilize the state’s May primary election to determine the final candidates that will appear on the November general election ballot.

“In order to appear on a primary ballot, a vacancy in a public office must occur before the start of the period for circulating and filing nomination petitions for that primary election,” explained James O’Malley, Deputy Director of Communications for the Bucks County Board of Elections.

February 13 is the cutoff date; the first day to circulate and file nomination petitions is February 14, according to the PA Department of State.

By selecting February 16, Marcell’s chosen date of resignation comes too late to allow voters to have a say in who will run for her vacated seat in the November election.

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Jenny Stephens

Jenny Stephens is a freelance journalist who has written for a variety of publications, including The Reporter. An avid collector of all things vintage, she resides in the Philadelphia area.

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