Ford City Council held their first full public meeting last night of the new year – still shy of one council member.
There were three council seats up for election last November in Ford City’s 2nd Ward. Each carries a four-year term. Two candidates petitioned to be on the ballot and won, which were Tyson Klukan and Beth Bowser. Both had served on Ford City Council the last several years.
However, for the third council seat, there were two write in candidates that garnered the majority of votes. Joseph Peters and Mary Alice Bryant received a substantial amount of votes with totals too close to call. The problem was that voters wrote in the two candidates with different forms of spelling in their names. Although Ms. Bryant goes by her married name, many voters wrote her in as “Mary Alice Ware” – her maiden name.
Armstrong County Voter’s Registration Director Jennifer Bellas said that in such situations, her office is not in a position to decide the vote count.
Candidate Joseph Peters petitioned the court to decide on the matter. However, on January 5, 2018, Peters withdrew his petition and conceded. The document filed at the Court House said as follows:
“I withdraw this petition for personal reasons and desire to not pursue this matter further. By virtue of this motion, I hereby concede the above mentioned election to Mrs. Mary Alice Bryant as determined by the initial tabulation of votes of the Armstrong County Department of Elections and Voter Registration.”
A copy of the document was forwarded to Bellas’ office and sent by certified mail to Bryant. Bryant is now waiting on formal notification which will permit her to be sworn in and take her seat on council at the next meeting.
“I’m waiting to hear from Voter’s Registration to say it official,” she said. “I’m happy about it. I’m just sorry he had to go through all of these changes in accepting it.”
Peters in a telephone interview last night gave additional insight into his reason for conceding.
“It was more than just personal reasons. I ran my campaign on the platform of integrity. When I contested my results and I asked for my votes to be counted, I wanted to make sure that all the voters’ voices were heard. After prayerful consideration, I looked at the results themselves. If I am going to run a campaign on integrity, it’s not right for me to say that Ms. Mary Alice cannot get six votes that were for Mary Alice Ware. It’s obvious that those were votes for her. If she were to be awarded those votes, she would have me beat by four votes. That was the main reason why I made the decision to concede. If I am going to run a campaign on integrity, then I need to show integrity.”
Peters said that he “most definitely” plans on running again in four years.
“I’ll be able to get my signatures next time so I can get on the ballot.”
Peters congratulated Bryant on winning the seat.
“I wish Mary Alice the best of luck and hopefully the Borough can move forward in the right direction and I’ll learn to take my lead, and lead with integrity.”
Bryant grew up in Ford City, but moved away for many years. She is the daughter of Mary Alice Ware, who celebrated her 100th birthday before passing away.
“All my life I have spent taking care of my mother,” Bryant said. “When she was even on her feet and doing (well), I was the one there. I have spent the last twenty years trying to make sure that her life was a very good life.”
Bryant said that the time she spent with her mother made her realize the importance the older citizens play in the life of the community.
“Now that I am back home to stay, I know that there are a lot of people out there of her age group that have thoughts and their opinions on things, but nobody is hearing them. Some of them have some very good opinions. I’ve talked to a few ladies, so my theory is I would like to get something set up whereby these people can call in and leave a message and somebody is going to respond to their thoughts, or if they have an idea that they think should be done this way or that way. That will be my main thing – to see if I can get the older people involved with the running of the (borough). Right now, they are there but none of them seem to be able to get their voice in on anything. I think we need to listen to these people because they got us to where we are today. And they didn’t do it because they were dumb. I’m sure that they have some good ideas.”
Bryant said although technology has helped us stay in touch, it should not take the place of human interaction.
“We rely so much on technology, and I’m thinking that sometimes we’re letting this technology get the best of us, and we are missing the point of being a human being. I figured I could do more if I was on the council in getting some of these people up to par.”
Bryant reflected on the many conversations she had with her mother.
“My Mom had a lot of them (ideas) and I listened to her the eight months I spent here before she died. She told me stories and told me about things that happened. There is a lot of history here that needs to be acknowledged because these people have brought us to where we are today and nobody is saying anything about it.”
The court case was originally scheduled for January 16 but will not need to be held now.