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Marielle Bricker

Marielle Bricker is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Voters to decide Lackawanna City (N.Y.) School District elections on May 18

The general election for Lackawanna City School District in New York is May 18. The filing deadline to run passed on April 29. 

Five candidates will be on the nonpartisan ballot. Incumbents Kimberly Bukaty, Leonard Kowalski, and Mohamed Munassar face challengers Raymond Braxton and Azaldeen Mohamed. Bukaty was appointed to the board in March to replace Nicholas Trifilo. Incumbent Mark Kowalski did not file for re-election.

Candidates are competing for four of seven seats on the board. The three trustees with the highest number of votes will be elected to three-year terms, and the trustee with the fourth-highest number of votes will be elected to a two-year term.

Lackawanna City School District served 1,944 students during the 2018-2019 school year and comprised four schools.

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SCOTUS concludes April sitting

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) concluded its April sitting for its 2020-2021 term on April 28. This sitting ran from April 19 through April 28, during which time the court heard 12 hours of oral argument. The cases argued before SCOTUS during its April sitting included:

• April 19: Yellen v. Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation (Consolidated with Alaska Native Village Corporation Association v. Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation) and Sanchez v. Mayorkas

• April 20: Greer v. United States and United States v. Gary

• April 21: City of San Antonio, Texas v. Hotels.com, L.P. and Minerva Surgical Inc. v. Hologic Inc.

• April 26: Americans for Prosperity v. Becerra (Consolidated with Thomas More Law Center v. Becerra) and Guam v. United States

• April 27: HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining, LLC v. Renewable Fuels Association and United States v. Palomar-Santiago

• April 28: Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. and PennEast Pipeline Co. v. New Jersey

The court is currently slated to hear one hour of oral argument during its May sitting scheduled for May 4. The case was originally scheduled to be heard in April. SCOTUS began hearing cases for the 2020-2021 term on Oct. 5. Its yearly term begins on the first Monday in October and lasts until the first Monday in October the following year. The court generally releases the majority of its decisions in mid-June.

As of April 22, the court had agreed to hear 62 cases during its 2020-2021 term. Of those, 12 were originally scheduled for the 2019-2020 term but were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Five cases were removed from the argument calendar. The court had also issued opinions in 30 cases this term. Six cases were decided without argument.

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Ballotpedia covering elections across 22 counties and 70 cities in 2021

Ballotpedia covers local elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and in the counties that overlap those cities. Our coverage also includes mayors, city councils, and district attorneys in the 32 state capitals that are not already part of our largest cities coverage. 

In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering municipal elections in 22 counties and 70 cities, including 43 mayoral elections. Click here for more information!



SCOTUS issues opinion, accepts case

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on April 5 issued an opinion in the case Google LLC v. Oracle America Inc. and accepted Brown v. Davenport for argument in October 2021.

In Google LLC v. Oracle America Inc., the court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings by a 6-2 vote. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion. Justice Clarence Thomas filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Samuel Alito. Justice Amy Coney Barrett took no part in the consideration or decision of the case since she had not joined the court at the time of the case’s oral argument in October 2020. 

The case was brought because Google copied verbatim portions of copyrighted code from 37 Java API packages and the packages’ structure, sequence, and organization, and wrote its own, customized implementing code for use with mobile devices. In its ruling, SCOTUS held that Google’s use of the programming code constituted a fair use of that material under copyright law.

With the Google ruling, all cases that were argued during the 2020 term’s October sitting have been decided. To date, the court has issued opinions in 26 cases this term. Five cases were decided without argument.

SCOTUS accepted the case Brown v. Davenport for argument during its upcoming term. The case concerns the standard necessary to grant federal habeas relief to a person held in state custody. 

The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Throughout his 2008 trial for first-degree murder, Ervine Davenport was visibly shackled. Davenport was found guilty. Davenport challenged his conviction, arguing that being in shackles contributed to his conviction. The state of Michigan found that the shackling did not affect the verdict. Davenport filed a federal habeas corpus petition with the 6th Circuit. The court granted a conditional habeas writ, concluding that Michigan was not able to show that Davenport’s shackling did not have a “substantial and injurious effect or influence in determining the jury’s verdict.” Mike Brown, as the acting warden of the prison where Davenport is being held, petitioned for an en banc review by the entire 16-judge 6th Circuit. The request was denied, and he appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court will begin hearing cases for the 2021-2022 term on Oct. 4. The court’s yearly term begins on the first Monday in October and lasts until the first Monday in October the following year. The court generally releases the majority of its decisions in mid-June. As of April 5, the court had agreed to hear 10 cases during its 2021-2022 term.

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Special election results for Louisiana state education board, appeals court

Louisiana held special state-level primary elections on March 20. A general election is scheduled for April 24. Louisiana elections use the majority-vote system. All candidates compete in the same primary, and a candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate wins outright, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election, regardless of their partisan affiliation.

On the ballot at the state level were special elections for Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) District 4, Louisiana Circuit Courts of Appeal District 1, and Louisiana House of Representatives District 82. Ballotpedia also covered special elections in Louisiana’s 2nd and 5th Congressional Districts. Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District was the only race decided outright in the primary; the rest advanced to the April general election.

The BESE special election was called after Tony Davis (R) left office in January. He served from 2016 to 2021. Five candidates were on the ballot, including one Democrat, two Republicans, and two independents. Cassie Williams (D) and Michael Melerine (R) advanced to the general election. Williams received 29.3% of the vote, and Melerine received 28.2% of the vote.

Louisiana Circuit Courts of Appeal District 1 became vacant in October when Judge Felicia Toney Williams (D) retired. Williams served on the court from 1993 to 2020. Three candidates competed to replace her, all Democrats. Marcus Hunter (D) received 43.7% of the vote. He faces J. Garland Smith (D), who received 31.9% of the vote, in the general election.

The Louisiana House of Representatives District 82 seat became vacant in January when Charles Henry (R) resigned. Henry served from 2020 to 2021. Three candidates competed to replace him—one Democrat and two Republicans. Edwin Connick (R) faces Laurie Schlegel (R) in the general. Connick received 39.7% of the vote and Schlegel received 35.7% of the vote.

Louisiana has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. The governor is a member of the Democratic Party and both chambers in the Louisiana State Legislature have Republican majorities.

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Election preview: special Louisiana elections scheduled for March 20

Louisiana is holding primary elections on March 20, 2021. A general election, if needed, is set for April 24. Louisiana elections use the majority-vote system. All candidates compete in the same primary, and a candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50 percent of the vote. If no candidate does, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election, regardless of their partisan affiliation.

On the ballot at the state level are special elections for Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) District 4, Louisiana Circuit Courts of Appeal District 1, and Louisiana House of Representatives District 82. Ballotpedia is also covering special elections for Louisiana’s 2nd and 5th Congressional Districts.

The BESE special election was called after Tony Davis (R) left office to devote more time to his job as a senior director at the National Association of Manufacturers on January 20, 2021. Davis served from 2016 to 2021. Five candidates are on the ballot, including one Democrat, two Republicans, and two independents.

Louisiana Circuit Courts of Appeal District 1 became vacant on October 1, 2020, when Judge Felicia Toney Williams (D) retired. Williams served on the court from 1993 to 2020. Three candidates are on the ballot to replace her, all Democrats. 

Louisiana Circuit Courts of Appeal District 2 was also scheduled to be on the ballot after Judge Jay McCallum (R) was elected to the Louisiana Supreme Court on November 3, 2020. McCallum served on the appellate court from 2018 to 2021. The special election to replace him was canceled after Jeff Robinson (R) was the only candidate to file and was automatically elected.

The Louisiana House of Representatives District 82 seat became vacant on January 12, 2021, when Charles Henry (R) resigned. Henry served from 2020 to 2021. Three candidates are competing to replace him—one Democrat and two Republicans.

Louisiana has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. The governor is a member of the Democratic Party and both chambers in the Louisiana State Legislature have Republican majorities.

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Candidate field for Pittsburgh mayoral race takes shape

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto faces three challengers in the Democratic primary on May 18, 2021, according to the unofficial list published by Allegheny County on March 9. No Republican candidates were listed. Peduto’s challengers include current state Rep. Edward Gainey, Tony Moreno, and Michael Thompson. 

The winner of the Democratic primary will advance to the general election on Nov. 2. Independent candidates have until Aug. 2 to file for the seat. Unless an independent candidate files, the May 18 Democratic primary winner will be unopposed in the general election.

The city of Pittsburgh utilizes a strong mayor and city council system. In this form of municipal government, the city council serves as the city’s primary legislative body while the mayor serves as the city’s chief executive.

Ballotpedia is covering 43 mayoral elections in 2021. Between 2014 and 2020, 68.2% of incumbent mayors sought re-election; of these, 17.6% were defeated in their bids for re-election.

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Governor sets special election in Texas’ 6th Congressional District for May 1

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called a special election for Texas’ 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House. The special election will fill the vacancy left by Ronald Wright (R), who died from complications related to COVID-19 on February 7, 2021. The general election will be held May 1, 2021. The filing deadline is March 3, 2021.

Two other special elections have been scheduled for vacant seats in the 117th United States Congress, both U.S. House seats in Louisiana. Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District became vacant after Rep. Cedric Richmond (D) joined the Biden administration as senior adviser to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District became vacant when Rep.-elect Luke Letlow (R) died on December 29, 2020, from complications related to COVID-19 before he was sworn into office.

Fifty special elections to the United States Congress were held during the 113th through 116th Congresses. During that time, special elections were called for 16 seats vacated by Democrats and 34 vacated by Republicans.

As of February 23, Texas’ U.S. House delegation has 13 Democrats, 22 Republicans, and one vacancy. The U.S. House has 221 Democrats, 211 Republicans, and three vacancies. A majority in the chamber requires 218 seats.

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Jill Underly, Deborah Kerr advance from Wisconsin superintendent of public instruction primary

The statewide spring primary for Wisconsin was held on Feb. 16, 2021. If two or fewer candidates filed for each seat on the ballot, the primary was canceled and the candidates automatically advanced to the general election on April 6.

The primary for the Wisconsin superintendent of public instruction was the only statewide nonpartisan race on the ballot. Incumbent Carolyn Stanford Taylor did not file to run for election. Taylor was first appointed to the position in January 2019 by Gov. Tony Evers (D), who resigned the seat after being elected governor in 2018. Seven candidates filed to run in the race. According to unofficial results, the highest number of votes went to Jill Underly (27.3%) and Deborah Kerr (26.5%). Both candidates advanced to the general election.

Two partisan state legislative special elections were on the otherwise nonpartisan ballot. 

Wisconsin state Senate District 13 became vacant on Jan. 1 after Scott Fitzgerald (R) was elected to the U.S. House. One Democrat, three Republicans, and two independent candidates filed for the seat. John Jagler defeated Todd Menzel and Don Pridemore in the Republican primary, receiving 57.1% of the unofficial vote. He faces Melissa Winker (D), Ben Schmitz (American Solidarity Party), and Spencer Zimmerman (Trump Conservative Party) in the general election.

State Assembly District 89 became vacant on Dec. 2, 2020, after John Nygren (R) resigned his seat to work in the private sector. One Democrat and five Republicans filed for the seat. Elijah Behnke won the Republican primary with 44.5% of the unofficial vote. He faces Karl Jaeger (D) in the general election.

The general election ballot will feature more offices, including three state appellate court seats and local nonpartisan seats.

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Previewing Wisconsin’s spring primary elections on Feb. 16

The statewide spring primary for Wisconsin is on February 16, 2021. The filing deadline to run passed on January 5. If two or fewer candidates filed for each seat on the ballot, the primary was canceled and the candidates automatically advanced to the general election scheduled for April 6.

Wisconsin’s spring elections feature nonpartisan offices, and the fall elections feature partisan offices. However, two partisan state legislative special elections are on the otherwise-nonpartisan ballot. Wisconsin State Senate District 13 became vacant on January 1 after Scott Fitzgerald (R) was elected to the U.S. House. State Assembly District 89 became vacant on December 2, 2020, after John Nygren (R) resigned his seat to work in the private sector.

Candidates are also running in the nonpartisan election for the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Ballotpedia is also covering local primaries in the following areas: 

• Dane County (1 seats)

• Milwaukee County (2 seats)

• Madison (3 seats)

• Middleton-Cross Plains Board of Education (1 seat)

• Milwaukee Board of School Directors (2 seats)

The general election ballot will feature more offices, including three state appellate court seats.

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