EDITORIAL: Leaving on a sour note

York Dispatch
  • Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York City, announced he will not run for re-election after all.
  • Local Democrats have asked for letters from people interested in the spot on the ballot.

Kevin Schreiber has been a good state representative for the 95th District for three years.

He reaches out to his constituents constantly, from an annual Instagram contest to promote tourism in York County, to holding shredding events to allow city residents to get rid of sensitive documents for free, to being named a Humane Pennsylvania Legislator for his work promoting animal welfare.

His long, golden curls are easily visible at event after event, from First Fridays to school rallies to gatherings to send cards to troops stationed overseas for the holidays.

Friends, family and co-workers applaud after the York County Economic Alliance announced that Rep. Kevin Schreiber was  selected to become the organization's new president and CEO on Thursday, August 4, 2016. John A. Pavoncello photo

So it's a little hard to say this, but he's leaving on a sour note.

Schreiber, D-York City, announced Aug. 4 that he will not stand for election for a third term after all. As of Dec. 1, he's going to be the president and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance.

Which is fine. He's sure to be a good economic cheerleader for all of York County.

But his timing is unfortunate.

Schreiber off ballot for state House, taking YCEA position

Schreiber announced in February he was running for re-election and, not surprising for a two-term incumbent, his was the only name on the Democratic side of the ballot in the May primary.

Had he instead declared at that time he would not be a candidate, it's likely a wide field of Democrats would have come out of the woodwork to run for the open seat, and voters would have decided who was best suited to take on Republican Joel Sears in the general election.

Sears is the president of a software company and former board member for York Suburban School District and Lincoln Intermediate Unit and was not contested in the Republican primary.

The timing of Schreiber's decision last week means now the local Democratic committee will choose Sears' challenger — and the committee members have very little time to make that decision before the Aug. 25 deadline to add a candidate's name to the ballot.

The committee is taking letters from anyone — that is to say, any registered Democrats living in the district — who wants to be considered. The letters are due by Friday, and the committee will conduct public interviews on Aug. 17. No long primary campaigns to get through, no waiting for returns to come in.

Rep. Kevin Schreiber, the new President and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance speaks after the announcement, Thursday, August 4, 2016. John A. Pavoncello photo

It seems fair to point out that Schreiber himself was handpicked by the local committee.

Then-state Rep. Eugene DePasquale ran for the 95th in 2012, while he was also on the ballot for state auditor general. The Democratic and Republican committees picked their candidates after DePasquale assumed the state office in January 2013, and a special election was held during the primary election in May 2013, which Schreiber won. He then handily won re-election in 2014.

And in August 2006, DePasquale, then a deputy secretary with the state Department of Environmental Protection, was picked by the committee to replace Rep. Steve Stetler on the ballot for that general election.

Stetler, who resigned the seat he had held since 1991 in September 2006 to become executive director of the Pennsylvania Economy League, went on to become the head of the state Department of Revenue in November 2008, then resigned that post in December 2009, hours before being charged with misusing public funds and state employees from 2002 to 2006, when he was head of the House Democratic Campaign Committee. He was found guilty of six felony offenses in June 2012 and sentenced to 14-48 months in jail. He was released last year.

Rep. Schreiber named Humane Pennsylvania Legislator

The 95th District is heavily Democratic and last elected a Republican in the mid-'80s, so it's more than likely that whoever replaces Schreiber on the ballot will be heading to Harrisburg in January and staying in the seat pretty much as long as he or she wants.

It's a shame that person will be the third one in a row chosen by a handful of committee leaders rather than primary voters.