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2019 News

Commissioners Pledge Cooperation as County Transitions to New Leadership

November 6, 2019

Contact: Larry King, 215.348.6413 or lrking@buckscounty.org

    Diane Ellis-Marseglia               Gene DiGirolamo                   Robert Harvie

The Bucks County Commissioners pledged today to work together as county government prepares to undergo its most sweeping leadership changes in recent memory.

For the first time since 1983, voters on Tuesday elected a Democratic majority to lead the Board of Commissioners. Democrats also swept all four row offices on this year’s ballot, ousting incumbent Republicans from the Clerk of Courts, Coroner, Register of Wills / Clerk of the Orphans’ Court and Treasurer positions.

Veteran Democratic Commissioner Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia was the county’s leading vote-getter, garnering 82,650 votes en route to her fourth four-year term in office, according to unofficial results. With running mate Robert Harvie, a Falls Township Supervisor who placed third in the commissioners’ race, Marseglia will lead the first team of Democrats to control county government since 1984-88.

“I’m thrilled for the people who won, and I have a sense of sorrow for those who did not,” Marseglia said at this afternoon’s commissioners’ meeting in Doylestown. “We all work for the good of the county, and we’ll make sure that any transitions will go well.”

State Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, a Bensalem Republican who has served in Harrisburg for 24 years, will represent the GOP on the three-member Board of Commissioners after finishing second in the balloting. Incumbent Republican Robert G. Loughery, who chairs the board, lost the third seat to Harvie by slightly less than 700 votes in the unofficial totals.

Loughery congratulated Marseglia and her team, and praised the four departing Republican row officers, saying they had served the county well. Much work remains before the end of the year, he said, including approving a budget for 2020 and deciding which new voting machines the county will purchase.

“We’ll work with the incoming officials to go through that and transition, as Commissioner Marseglia said,” Loughery said. “We’ll set a good example and continue on in this transition and hand this over. That’s what the people of Bucks County deserve, and that’s what we will do.”

Loughery said that the final election results should be certified by the end of next week, after which the commissioners will once again be seated as the county’s Board of Elections, which is charged with selecting a new, paper-verifiable voting system. That decision, which has been required by the state, is targeted for Dec. 4, Loughery said.

In other election results, longtime Republican Clerk of Courts Mary Smithson, who has been in office for 24 years, was defeated by Democrat Brian Monroe, a veteran and former police officer. Republican Coroner Dr. Joseph Campbell, in office since 2000, lost to Democrat Meredith Buck, a registered nurse and attorney.   

Two-term Republican Register of Wills / Clerk of the Orphans Court Donald Petrille was defeated by Democrat Linda Bobrin, an attorney, business owner and Newtown Township Supervisor. And Republican Treasurer Thomas Panzer failed to win a second term, falling to Democrat Kris Ballerini, an Upper Makefield Township Supervisor and former bank manager.

Bucks County voters also selected three new judges for the Court of Common Pleas: Democrats Charissa Liller and Jordan Yeager, and Republican Denise Bowman, the only victorious GOP candidate in a countywide race.

County Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler told the commissioners that Tuesday’s election transpired with very few problems, and praised the Board of Elections staff and supporting departments for their work.

Hessenthaler said turnout in Bucks County exceeded 35 percent, which would be the highest for a municipal election here in more than a quarter-century. 

Republican Commissioner Charles H. Martin, who is retiring after more than 24 years in office, congratulated the victors and said he had enjoyed working with those who are departing.

“I think they’ve done a great job … of running their various offices,” Martin said. “We’ll see how the new folks do, and all the best to them.”