Mary Anater, a lawyer and county employee from Lancaster city, secured the Republican Committee of Lancaster County’s nomination for Lancaster County Clerk of Courts.
At a meeting Wednesday night, committee members selected Anater after two rounds of voting. Anater received 111 votes in the first round, with Eric Reath, Congressman Llyod Smucker’s press secretary, coming in second with 101.
But after two other candidates were knocked out of the running, Anater beat Reath in the second round 146 to 112.
“Thank you for your support and I look forward to being part of the team,” Anater, an employee of the Lancaster County Treasurer’s Office and former law clerk for the county said in accepting the nomination.
The Clerk of Courts Office manages the records for the criminal division of the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas and handles about 8,000 new criminal court records each year, according to its website.
The position became open in early August when Jackie Pfursich, who was elected Clerk of Courts in 2015 and reelected in 2019, was appointed county solicitor.
Since the seat was vacated after the May primary, Republican voters were not able to choose a nominee for a special election, leaving it up to a vote by the members of the county GOP committee.
Pfursich’s appointment as solicitor occurred on Aug. 4, which is 91 days before the November election. Had her hiring as solicitor come one day later, the open Clerk of Courts seat instead would have been filled by recommendation from state Sens. Scott Martin and Ryan Aument and appointment by Gov. Tom Wolf, according to the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Anater faced stiff competition in Reath, whose campaign advisory committee included a slew of party insiders including Smucker; Chairman Kirk Radanovic’s wife, Loretta Radanovic; four area chairs; four state representatives; both Republican county commissioners; and two county row officers.
Also seeking the nomination were Grant Keener, of East Petersburg, interim assistant dean for admissions at the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law and a graduate of Ohio Northern University’s Claude W. Pettit College of Law; and Craig Storrs Jr., of Denver, a paralegal for Voce, a Harrisburg family services agency, who holds a bachelor of science degree in paralegal studies. Storrs was disqualified after receiving only three votes in the first round. Keener dropped out after receiving only 49 votes in the first round. Neither candidate threw their support behind Reath or Anater.
“This is what I meant by losing to the right candidate,” Storrs said after the second round. “If I had to lose to someone, I’m glad it was her.”
Anater will stand for election Nov. 2, seeking to fill the remaining two years left in Pfursich’s term. The job pays $86,527 per year.
Democrats will also be putting up a candidate, Lancaster County Democratic Committee Chair Diane Topakian said. Michelle Batt, a former Lancaster County public defender, is expected to be nominated later this week, campaign chair Carl Feldman said.
Anater’s first challenge if she takes office in January would be responding to what Lancaster County President Judge David Ashworth called a staffing “crisis” in an Aug. 11 email to his fellow judges. Glen Beiler of the Ephrata Area Committee, who seconded Anater's nomination, mentioned Ashworth’s email in his speech and said Anater was well qualified to address the problems.
Rhonda Allen, who was appointed interim clerk, told LNP | LancasterOnline that her office is down roughly half of its budgeted employees.
Anater said that, having worked in the courthouse previously, she is aware of the staffing issues and appreciates the role it plays in the justice system. If elected, she said it would be the first thing she addresses.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story misattributed a quote referencing a email sent by President Judge David Ashworth. Glen Beiler is the committee member who brought up the email.