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Ex-Commissioner Beam switches parties

Longtime Democrat felt he was treated unfairly

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Former Blair County Commissioner Ted Beam Jr. is now a Republican.

The longtime Democrat who lost his bid in November for a third term as commissioner said Friday that he changed parties, an action he started considering before the November election.

“I received a door hanger … with the Democratic symbol, and under the commissioners vote for two section, my name was crossed out and someone had written vote for one,” Beam said. “That sorta showed me there were people in the Democratic Party who were campaigning against me.”

Blair County Democratic Party Chairwoman Gillian Kratzer said Friday that Beam contacted her about the door hanger, which she believes was altered by an individual.

“It is absolutely not something that the party advocated,” Kratzer said. “All our of literature handed out had both Ted’s name and Laura’s name.”

Laura Burke of Hollidayburg, the other Democratic candidate running for commissioner, won the election by receiving 7,139 votes to Beam’s 6,185 votes. She was elected along with Republican candidates Amy Webster of Hollidaysburg, who received 14,920 votes, and Bruce Erb of Hollidaysburg, who received 14,287 votes, based on the county’s official tally.

On election night when the votes showed Beam finishing last, he named reassessment as the reason. He had been supportive of the pursuit. The process generated some anger over newly assigned property values and real estate tax bills.

Nevertheless, Beam said he and his campaign committee Chairman John Bollinger considered the alteration of the door hanger to be “unfortunate and unfair.”

“If that’s the way I’m going to be treated by the Democratic Party, then I don’t need that,” Beam said.

Beam said he didn’t know how many of the hangers were circulated or in what area or areas they were circulaulated.

He said the one presented to him came from somebody he knows and trusts.

Beam, a former Altoona city councilman, said he has been a lifelong Democrat, with a short exception, when he temporarily registered as a Republican to support Barry Wright’s pursuit of a county commissioner seat.

Kratzer said she was aware of Beam’s decision to register as a Republican.

“I’m certainly disappointed,” she said. “But if that’s where he feels like he fits in ideologically, that’s entirely up to him.”

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.

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