Democrats on Monday night nominated ward leader Shawn Dillon as their nominee in the 5th Senatorial District special election on May 17.
The seat became vacant when John Sabatina Jr. resigned to become a Common Pleas Court judge.
Republicans have not decided on a candidate.
Sabatina won a special election in 2015 to replace Mike Stack, after he became lieutenant governor. Dillon vied for the Democratic nod then.
After it became likely in late summer that Sabatina would become a judge, Dillon began lobbying fellow ward leaders to gain the special election nomination. He was a top contender, along with state Rep. Mike Driscoll.
Ultimately, Driscoll became the frontrunner for an expected special election in the 6th Councilmanic District.
A couple of other ward leaders, along with Stack and state Rep. Ed Neilson, expressed interest in the seat. But they couldn’t put together the old coalition that gave Sabatina the nomination in 2015 – Stack is no longer a ward leader and Mike McAleer passed away.
In the end, Dillon was endorsed unanimously. The votes came from Dillon, Connie Dougherty, Alan Butkovitz, Pat Parkinson, Jim Donnelly, Bobby Henon, former rival John Del Ricci, Harry Enggasser, Pete McDermott and John Sabatina Sr. Party boss Bob Brady looked on.
“I got out in front and guys like Jim Donnelly never blinked on me,” Dillon said. “I think the Northeast ward leaders are in a good place.”
Dillon, 56, retired last April as Southeast Regional supervisor in the auditor general’s office. He’s been a ward leader for 16 years. His late dad, Frank, held the post before him for about 30 years.
“I want to bring the Northeast together. I’m trying to unite the Northeast. We’re stronger together than apart,” he said. ••