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Susan Byrnes becomes the new face on York County Board of Commissioners


A new face will join the York County Board of Commissioners for the first time in eight years, but the board's political makeup remains the same — one Democrat and two Republicans.

Republican Susan Byrnes beat out President Commissioner Steve Chronister, denying him a fourth term in dramatic fashion as she led the field of five candidates.

"Tonight is a celebration of our freedom to choose in our self-government," Byrnes said as she thanked supporters at a victory party in York City's Central Market.

Voters opted to return two incumbents — 53-year-old Chris Reilly, a Republican, and Democrat Doug Hoke, 65 — to their posts when the board re-organizes in January.

Byrnes, 64, is well known in the community for her efforts in the health sector. She founded the Byrnes Health Education Center, which in 1995 opened its doors at 515 S. George St. in York City.

That last time voters shook up the board was in 2007, when Hoke and Reilly were elected by beating two incumbents.

"I think we're still going to have a good board of commissioners," Chronister said.

Ousted: Chronister, who ran as an Independent, came in last with just 9,621 votes, according to unofficial results from the county's election office.

"I expected this," he said. "It's no surprise to me. I'm 63-years-old. I was ready for this."

Chronister, a long-time Republican, dropped out of the GOP primary after his nomination petition was challenged. He rejoined the race in August when he got enough signatures on a nomination petition to run as an Independent, which he said was like swimming upstream.

Henry Nixon, 67, also came up short at the polling place, receiving 16,265 votes, according to the county's election office.

"I certainly knew it was going to be an uphill battle," said Nixon, a Democrat. "I ran a good race."

Though not a county commissioner-elect, Nixon said he plans to wake up Wednesday and continue his work focusing on York City issues as one of its councilmen.

Winning ticket: Byrnes led the field, receiving 32,703 votes, while Reilly placed second with 24,848 votes, according to the results.

This will be Reilly's fifth term in office. He served as commissioner from 1996 until he left in 2003. Reilly returned to the job in 2008 and was re-elected in 2011.

"I'm going to spend 20 years in a job I love," Reilly said. "That's a special accomplishment."

Hoke secured his third term on the board of commissioners with 20,078 votes, according to the results.

"The people spoke, and I'm humbled to be given another term," he said.

Candace Laither, 43, York City, had her two children along with her to cast her vote for Byrnes.

Byrnes "seems really genuine and she seems to care, that's what I look for when I vote," Laither said. "I always want to vote for people who actually do get out into the community and try to make a difference."

What's to come: The three sitting commissioners said they expect the transition to a new board that includes Byrnes will be smooth.

"I think Susan's intelligent and will get up to speed quickly," Hoke said.

But Reilly noted the current board was rarely stoked by controversy and worked well together, adding he expects the same will be true once Byrnes takes office.

"Steve and I had a good working relationship," he said.

The results will be certified by the York County Board of Elections in a few weeks.

In 2016, when those elected commissioner take office, the president commissioner will make $89,730 annually, and the other two commissioners will be paid $86,525 each.

Staff writer Jessica Schladebeck contributed to this report.

— Reach Greg Gross at