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GOP Candidate Not Notified About Polling Changes in Special Election

The Bucks County Election Board, chaired by Commissioner Bob Harvie (D), voted on Jan. 25 to change six polling places for the Feb. 13 special election for the 140th state House seat.

However, Bucks County authorities did not inform candidates of the changes, said Republican candidate Candace Cabanas.

“The county commissioners changed several Middletown poll locations on Jan. 25, 2024. We are having to scramble to contact Middletown residents. I only found out about it (Sunday) through a volunteer who was contacted by a resident,” Cabanas told DVJournal.

A spokesperson for Democrat James Prokopiak did not respond to requests for comment.

Civil rights advocates sometimes view last-second changes to polling locations or election policies as a form of voter suppression.

“Anything that disrupts voter habits will diminish turnout,” Donald P. Green, a professor of political science at Columbia University, told The New York Times. “Changes about location and day and format all have a disruptive effect.”

During the election board meeting, Harvie said some polling sites were moved back to their original locations in Neshaminy School District schools after the county promised the district additional security. Harvie did not specify the reasons for the other changes. And county spokesman James O’Malley did not respond when asked why the campaigns were not notified about the changes.

The special election will tip the balance of the state House, which is now tied at 101 Democrats to 101 Republicans. It was called because John Galloway, the former longtime state representative, was elected to a district justice seat and stepped down.

Prokopiak, a lawyer, is a Pennsbury School Board member and former Falls Township supervisor.

“I’m running because for too many people who live in Lower Bucks County, the American Dream seems to get farther and farther away,” he said. “You know, the cost of putting a roof over their head, paying their bills, taking care of their children’s education while trying to save for retirement and have health care. It’s a heavy burden and I think we need to do better, and I think we need to start in Harrisburg with that.”

Cabanas, a first-time candidate, is a Falls Township native who has worked in health care and the restaurant industry.

“I’m running because I understand firsthand the challenges faced by working families,” said Cabanas. “I know how difficult it is to raise a family and make ends meet in this economy, and I know how important it is to fight for the working-class citizens of Lower Bucks County. That’s exactly what I’ll do as your next state representative.

“In Harrisburg, I will be a vocal supporter of our police, firefighters, and first responders,” she said. “Their daily sacrifices to keep our families safe are invaluable, and they deserve unwavering support and recognition for their heroic efforts.”

She told DVJournal in a podcast that she is a working-class person. Prokopiak has also been invited to be a DVJ podcast guest.

Although the district leans Democratic, the key to winning will be turnout.

Just weeks before the special election, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee sent $50,000 to the House Democratic Caucus. The DLCC also named Prokopiak its first “spotlight candidate” for 2024.

The special election will be held Feb. 13.


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Former Kennett Square Mayor Leon Spencer Runs for State Representative

Leon Spencer, Jr., the former Kennett Square mayor, hopes to be a state representative for everyone.

“I’m delighted to have the support of Democrats, Republicans, and independent voters alike. That’s how it’s supposed to be,” he said.

“It’s less about politics for me than it is about public service,” he told the Delaware Valley Journal. “I don’t consider myself a politician; I consider myself a public servant.”

Spencer, who is running for the Republican nomination to represent the 158th legislative district, says he believes he is the person to make what he sees as dysfunction in Harrisburg better.

“I’m big on unity,” said Spencer, who served as mayor for 11 years. “I really, really am.” He believes in working with others and finding consensus.

“I think it’s important, even though there are things we disagree on. I think it’s possible to sit down and come up with amicable solutions if we’re willing to communicate with each other.”

“I’m an educator,” Spencer said. “That’s my full-time job. I think we need to come up with some more equitable, fair way of funding education. I’m hearing too many stories, seeing too many examples of situations where some of the poorer districts are not getting the money they need in order to complete the task.” Spencer, 71, currently works at the Chester County Intermediate Unit as a network facilitator at Career Ready Chesco.  The program helps children graduate with skills for good jobs, he said.

Another of Spencer’s priorities is high property taxes that force too many senior citizens on fixed incomes to sell their houses.

“We have to go back to the basic concept of controlling spending,” Spencer said. “We were all taught when we were growing up to live within our means.”

He is also concerned about rapidly decreasing open space and plans to support programs that promote preservation.

Although he grew up in Kennett Square, Spencer went to college in Ohio and stayed in that state for 22 years before coming home. Spencer is married to Katharine Spencer, who is retired from banking.

Former Pennsylvania State Representative Eric Roe endorsed Spencer.

“Leon’s public service has been about serving others,” said Roe. “As a member of the school board, Leon Spencer provided kids in Kennett with a great education. As a member of Kennett Borough Council, Leon Spencer held the line on taxes. And as the mayor of Kennett Square, he gave our police officers the resources they needed to protect and serve. I’m proud to support my friend Leon Spencer for State Representative because he will unite a divided Pennsylvania.”

Under redistricting plans, the proposed boundary lines of the 158th District contain the boroughs of Avondale and Kennett Square, as w and townships of West Bradford, East Fallowfield, Kennett, East Marlborough, West Marlborough, New Garden, Newlin, and Pocopson.

Democrat Rep. Christina Sappey currently represents the 158th District.


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