The lineup of Luzerne County Council contenders was cemented Tuesday when Democrats picked five of nine candidates as their nominees.
The Democratic winners and their vote counts, according to unofficial results: Sheila Saidman, 9,331; Linda McClosky Houck, 9,317; Wendy Cominsky, 8,470; Matthew Vough, 8,143; and John Gadomski, 7,704.
There was no primary contest on the Republican side because only five contenders were on the ballot. All five will automatically advance to the November general election.
The Republican nominees and their unofficial vote counts: Harry Haas, 9,017; Chris Perry, 8,502; Marc Dixon, 8,367; Stephen J. Urban, 8,362; and Gregory Wolovich Jr., 6,957.
Voter turnout in Luzerne County didn’t crack 20 percent. With all precincts reporting, the county Bureau of Elections calculated turnout at 19.8 percent.
The selection process opens up to all voters in the Nov. 7 general, when they are free to choose five contenders from any political party. Independent and third-party candidates also may enter the race after the primary.
The four Democrats who did not win a nomination Tuesday, along with their unofficial results: Anthony Bartoli, 7,168; Philip Gianfarcaro, 6,236; James Watkinson Jr., 5,563; and David Popiak, 4,777.
Council members receive $8,000 annually and serve for four years. The duties of the 11-member council include approving the budget and larger contracts, appointing members to outside county boards, enacting codes and ordinances, confirming nominations to eight division head positions and hiring and evaluating the manager.
McClosky Houck and Haas are the only incumbents, and both have served on council since the January 2012 switch to a customized home rule government.
McClosky Houck, 58, of Kingston, teaches at Wyoming Valley West’s Dana Elementary Center and is active at the Holy Family Parish in Luzerne.
“I appreciate the confidence people have placed in me, and I will continue to do my best,” said McClosky Houck, who is in her third year as county council chair.
Saidman, 67, of Kingston, was the top vote-getter. She is a retired lawyer who has worked as a county assistant district attorney, legal counsel for various entities and in private law practice. Building consensus and applying her communication and negotiation experience are among her goals.
“I’m really proud of this run. I worked very, very hard, as all of the candidates did,” said Saidman. “There was no acrimony or nasty campaigning. I would be proud to serve with any of them as a colleague on council.”
Saidman said campaigning countywide was exhausting, but she met many interesting residents in towns she had never visited.
“This has been a wonderful experience,” she said. “I think that this council could be a great council if we get the right people on it, and we also have some outstanding Republican candidates.”
Cominsky, 45, of Dallas Township, said securing her nomination was a grassroots movement that she hopes sets an example for “average, regular, everyday people” with no political name recognition.
“I’m a hairdresser, and I didn’t go to college. Every person out there should feel confident about running for office,” said Cominsky, who owns and operates Au Salon in Dallas.
She said she was overwhelmed with the support she received and offered special thanks to Democratic political insider Paul Maher for taking her under his wing and introducing her to people.
Vough, 24, of Pittston, said he appreciated the support and hopes it continues.
“I want to thank the people who got me here and want to keep the momentum rolling until November,” said Vough, who works as a marketing manager at Keystone Automotive Operations Inc. in Exeter.
Gadomski, 63, of Wyoming, has worked as a carpenter, foreman and superintendent for more than 44 years. He serves as council representative for the Keystone Mountain Lakes Regional Council of Carpenters and vice president of Carpenters Local 445 NEPA.
“I’m very appreciative of all the support from family, friends, union colleagues and others. I hope they’re there for me come November,” said Gadomski, who said he wants to encourage council members to “come together.”
A synopsis of the Republican nominees: Dixon, 47, of Wright Township, business development director for Kodak Alaris; Haas, 41, of Kingston, history teacher at the Dallas Middle School; Perry, 67, of Fairview Township, retired after a 36-year tenure in the Hazleton Area School District as a teacher, coach and athletic director; Urban, 43, of Wilkes-Barre, an IT support coordinator with a major food distributor and past county council member from 2012 through 2015; and Wolovich, 24, of Newport Township, a product selector for Wegmans Food Markets who has a bachelor’s degree in accounting.
In the county controller race, both candidates were uncontested. Incumbent Democrat Michelle Bednar received 14,224 votes, while Republican contender Walter Griffith received 10,283, according to unofficial counts.
The controller is the county’s independent fiscal watchdog under home rule. The term is four years, and the post pays $64,999 annually.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.