A West Franklin Township resident’s name will not appear on the ballot in the May Primary for school director or supervisor.
Armstrong County President Judge James J. Panchik ruled yesterday that although Jorn Jensen filed a financial statement with his petition with the court house, he did not file copies of that statement with either the Armstrong School District (ASD) or West Franklin Township.
Panchik cited Section 1104(b) of the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act that stipulates a petition to appear on the ballot for election will not be accepted if the person running for office does not file a statement of financial interest prior to the date the petition was due.
Panchik also referred to previous case law in 2014 that ruled: “The failure to timely file a statement of financial interest with the appropriate governing authority is fatal to the nomination petition, and this failure cannot be remedied by the Court via equitable principles.”
Jensen said he did not remember being told that he had to file copies of his financial statement with the school district or the township.
“I was also suppose to turn in the financial report only to the township secretary and the school secretary. I did not realize that, and in court, it was debated whether I was told that or not. I don’t recall being told that because if I was told that, I had a half-day to complete that task and I would have completed it. At the time I left the court house, I thought I had all the tasks necessary completed in order to be on the ballot.”
According to Panchik’s written ruling, “Armstrong County Director of Elections, Jennifer Bellas, advised Jensen that he must attach statements of financial interest to the petitions. She then gave him blank statements of financial interest, which he completed and attached to his petitions prior to filing. Ms. Bellas further informed Jensen that he had to file a copy of the statements with the governing authorities presiding over the offices which he was seeking candidacy, namely the Armstrong School District and West Franklin Township.”
However, there was no indication that Bellas verbally communicated to Jensen that copies of the financial statements would have to be given to the ASD or West Franklin by end of that day.
Jensen said that he attempted to give the copies of the financial statement to the secretaries of both the ASD and West Franklin during the court hearing, but it was rejected by both secretaries.
The objection to Jensen’s petition was filed by current school board member Joseph Close through his attorney Chuck Pascal.
Panchik’s ordered “that the nomination petitions filed by Jorn Jensen for the offices of School Director representing Region II of the Armstrong School District and Supervisor of West Franklin Township be and hereby are set aside and stricken.”