Ryan Dodson

Ryan Dodson

One of the winners of the May 18 Democratic Primary for Manheim Township Commissioner is withdrawing from the race and backing her former opponent.

Denyse Kling, who was nominated for an open two-year seat, made her announcement through the township’s Democratic committee, which is appointing Ryan Dodson to replace her on that ballot.

“It just wasn’t the right time,” Kling told LNP | LancasterOnline on Thursday.

She said that other factors in her life led her to feel she wouldn’t be able to give 100% of her effort to the race, which is what she feels a candidate must be able to do. She did not elaborate.

According to Christa Miller, the county's chief clerk of elections, when a candidate quits a race after winning a primary, the candidate's party can appoint a replacement to the ballot for the fall election.

In a press release, the township's Democratic committee said it was appointing Dodson to replace Kling on the fall General Election ballot, where he will face incumbent Republican Donna DiMeo for the two-year seat. The committee said Dodson “has demonstrated dedication to the Manheim Township community and knowledge of the Board of Commissioners’ responsibilities,” to take Kling’s position on the ballot.

Kling received the Democratic endorsement early this year, and Dodson launched his challenge after the committee’s vetting of candidates. Kling won the primary with 1,949 votes to Dodson’s 1,386.

“Ryan is running for a two-year term on the Manheim Township Board of Commissioners because he is committed to maintaining the Manheim Township community as a happy, safe, and green place to live,” the committee’s press release said.

“Ryan pledges to help manage suburban sprawl in MT; encourage volunteerism and civic engagement; and ensure all (Manheim Township) residents have access to all that living in (Manheim Township) has to offer.”

Dodson is one of four Democratic candidates on the ballot. The other three — incumbents Tom O’Brien and Carol Gifford, and real estate investor Stella Sexton — are all seeking four-year seats on the board. They will face Republican nominees John Bear, Stacey Morgan Brubaker and Mary Jo Huyard.

The township — the county’s largest municipality outside of Lancaster city — sat firmly in Republican control for many years. But in 2019 Democrats took control of the five-member board, where they now hold a 4-1 majority.

Republicans still have a voter-registration advantage, but Democrats are hoping to overcome that to win at least two of the four seats up for election and keep control of the board. Republicans need to win three of the four seats to take back the board majority.

What to Read Next