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Your guide to the key races on November’s ballot

Plus, a 'catastrophe in the making' for Pa.’s forests.


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
October 14, 2021
Election looks, governor's race, Tree of Life, ballot watch, high anxiety, fresh challenge, and Pennsylvania's shark attack. It's Thursday. This is PA Post.

QAnon-aligned school board candidates, key appellate races, and a slew of local leadership posts are on the ballot in Pennsylvania this Election Day, when voters will hit the polls — or nearest dropoff point — to weigh in.

Among the most consequential choices before them: picking a new Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice and judges for two other statewide appellate courts — all positions with immense impact and influence.

Here's Spotlight PA's guide to the judicial candidates and the stakes of the election, which are especially high headed into next year's gubernatorial contest.

THE CONTEXT: Locally, Philadelphia's race for district attorney will wrap up, while Pittsburgh is poised to formally elect its first Black mayor.

But normally overlooked school board races are also gaining lots of attention amid fights over COVID-19 rules and critical race theory, as well as a crop of PAC-backed extremist candidates looking to wage those fights from the inside.

Spotlight PA explains who's running and how to research them — and their money.

The registration deadline for the Nov. 2 election is Monday. Learn more here.


"I didn't feel anyone should have to move to Camp Hill. If I was going to make someone move to Camp Hill, I would not have much of a team." 

—Rite Aid CEO Heyward Donigan on the company's decision to move its headquarters from Cumberland County to Philadelphia
COVID-19 NEWS: Penn State will now require employees at its main campus to get a COVID-19 vaccine; the U.S. plans to reopen its borders to vaccinated travelers; and Moderna and Pfizer booster shots might be more effective for Johnson & Johnson recipients. To find a COVID-19 vaccine, use the federal government's online tool, call 1-800-232-0233, or text your zip code to 438829 (GETVAX).
» THE JUDICIAL VOTE: Join us Thursday, Oct. 21 at noon EST via Zoom for a free breakdown and Q&A on who will be on the ballot this November and how voters will decide the future of Pennsylvania's courts. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org
A foggy day in Holtwood. Thanks for the photo, Nichole HSend us your gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
READY, GO: With a two-minute video touching on election denialism, hyper-partisanship, and more, Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro became the first Democrat to declare a bid for governor on Wednesday, TribLIVE reports. The Republican field is far more crowded and won't be joined by U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser (R., Luzerne), Times Leader reports. 

HATE CRIME: The long-delayed case against accused Tree of Life gunman Robert Bowers returned to court this week for an evidentiary hearing that drew on testimony from first responders and investigators who recounted Bowers' own statements about his hatred of Jewish people, the AP reports. The status of the case will be reassessed in January. 

MAIL CHECK: Video appearing to show a man putting several ballots into a Lackawanna County drop box during May's primary is being seized on by GOP leaders who are looking to rein in the option. But it's unclear if the man was legally delivering ballots for others. If not, it still doesn't mean fraud occurred, the Times-Tribune reports, via Morning Call.

LEGAL FIGHT: Pennsylvania's expanded mail-in voting law is facing its most serious legal challenge yet, prompting Democratic National Committee involvement and plenty of state-level concerns. The Inquirer reports the Democrat-led state Supreme Court could uphold the law on appeal, but some worry the damage would already be done.

NEW ENTRY: A former Army pilot and West Point grad named Ashley Ehasz is the first Democrat to declare a bid for the Pennsylvania congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R., Philadelphia), The Hill reports. Fitzpatrick — a Republican re-elected in Biden Country — is seen as vulnerable, even by his own party.
DEAD WOOD: Two academics say that although bugs such as the emerald ash borer and spotted lanternfly are well known threats to Pennsylvania forests, exotic plant invaders represent "a catastrophe in the making," per WESA.

SHARK SCHOOL: A map of shark attack totals in U.S. states listed one for Pennsylvania, which got Twitter wondering what it was, which led to the sharing of a PhillyVoice story about a Philadelphia Aquarium mishap in 1961.

BIG BIRD: Pittsburgh's favorite runaway eagle, Kodiak, is back at the National Aviary after an extended rumspringa and now gracing music festival promos like the pop culture icon he is. Fly eagle, fly.

DRY INK: A longtime Philadelphia nurse practitioner's new book "Tattoo Monologues" pays tribute to women whose tattoos tell stories of trauma, hope, and healing, The Inquirer reports.

CANDY CORNY: Love it or love to hate it, Pennsylvania has a thing for candy corn, coming in at number seven on People magazine's list of the states buying the largest quantities of the divisive Halloween confection.
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.
Yesterday's answer: Remuneration (also accepted: renumeration)

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Michelle T., Judith D., Susan D., Beth T., Mike B., Susan F., Becky C., Doris T., Craig E., Susan N., Neal W., Elaine C., Keith F., Don H., Kim C., Steve D., Tim B., Irene R., James B., George S., Dianne K., Tish M., Bill S., Bridget C., Elizabeth W., and Myles M.
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