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High voter turnout hints at concerns of local residents

An event of “massive public engagement” — Tuesday’s general election — will shape the future in our region.

The quote is from Forest Lehman, county voter services director. We couldn’t think of a better way to say it, particularly in light of a 38.18-percent voter turnout in Lycoming County, higher than most local election years.

Some observers would say that Tuesday’s general election was a bit more interesting than most, and that drove voters to the polls.

The ballots were filled with many new names and fresh perspectives, along with a solid mix of tried and true incumbents who balance boards with experience.

The election included some strong write-in campaigns that added an element of mystery.

It featured new voting machines that harkened back to the days when paper ballots were the rule.

The machines received mixed reviews from voters exiting local polling places. Some believed the machines to be efficient and the paper ballots that were filled out and then electronically scanned to be easier to use. Some did not understand the new system on their first try. Others thought them to be a step back. But they do provide the critical element of a paper trail, something that is necessary before next year’s presidential election and something that was missing with the old machines.

In all, 25,906 of the county’s 67,854 registered voters gave the new machines a spin and cast ballots. While turnout countywide was 38.18 percent, it was a bit less in Williamsport, at 36.32 percent.

The voter turnout may have been a sign of support, certainly, for some candidates; but moreso we believe it to be a sign of concern that the people of Lycoming County, its local municipalities and school districts and the city of Williamsport have for our collective future. That turnout shows a yearning for strong leadership and problem solving, as well as a commitment by our elected officials to do the right thing for the people who live here.

In the end, Tuesday’s general election yielded a new crop of leaders in key community positions. And it was historic, too, in that Williamsport elected its first black mayor with Councilman Derek Slaughter. We like that he brings prior experience in city government to the city’s top elected position.

There will be continuing experience, too, on the county Board of Commissioners, with the re-election of Democrat Rick Mirabito and Republican Tony Mussare. Joining them will be Republican Scott Metzger.

To each of them, as well as all others elected to public office this past Tuesday, we want to wish you much success in the next four years. All of city, the boroughs and townships, the school districts and the county, the people who call this area home, are depending on you.

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