Voters will face contests for school director in West Chester, Oxford, Avon Grove and Coatesville, to name a few.
And finally, at the level of government closest to the people, several races have emerged for township, borough and city officials, with many of those candidates waging write-in campaigns.
Voters in eight Chester County municipalities will hold referendums that would authorize local tax increases to raise money to preserve open space.
Seeking election to the county's Board of Commissioners are Republicans Carol Aichele, 44, of Tredyffrin Township, and Don Mancini, 45, of Willistown Township. Aichele, a former school director for the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District, has been the Chester County controller for the last six years. Mancini, a lawyer in Paoli, is the county's register of wills. He has promised to serve just one term if elected.
The two Democratic candidates are incumbent Andrew Dinniman, 59, a West Chester University professor from West Whiteland Township, and Michele Vaughn, 38, an East Whiteland Township supervisor and project manager for the biotechnology firm, Centacor.
Yesterday, she was named a "recommended" candidate by the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry, an organization that also endorsed Aichele and Mancini. Earlier, Dinniman had received an endorsement from the Sierra Club of Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Incumbent Republican Recorder of Deeds Terence Farrell, 56, faces Democrat Mario Calvarese, 45, in the only other contested county-wide race.
Running unopposed on the Republican ticket are Sheriff Carolyn "Bunny" Welsh, 59, who is seeking a second term; Bryan Walters, 46, for prothonotary, the office that maintains civil court records; Paula Gowen, 50, register of wills; and incumbent District Attorney Joseph Carroll, 54.
County judges Jacqueline Carroll Cody, 49; James P. MacElree 2d, 56; and Howard F. Riley Jr., 61, are seeking retention for another 10-year term. Edward Griffith, 55, and John Hall, 47, are unopposed for two new seats on the county bench.
Coatesville voters today face three ballot measures aimed at killing the city's plan to put a golf course on land seized outside the city limits. Coatesville officials argue that the measures could cripple the city's revitalization effort.
One measure would change the city charter to require voter approval of a golf facility outside the municipal boundary. Another would require voter approval for any condemnation or sale of real estate not in the city.
The third would require voter approval of any city-operated "proprietary or business enterprise" that would compete against a similar privately owned enterprise.
The measures were placed on the ballot by city residents opposed to Coatesville's planned acquisition of part of Dick Saha's horse farm in neighboring Valley Township.
The Saha farm controversy also figures foremost in three races for City Council.
Two incumbent Democrats who favor the golf club and oppose the ballot measures lost their primary bids and are running write-in campaigns. They are Stephon Hines in the Fifth Ward, and Kevin Rolston in the First Ward.
Hines, 34, a salesman for a Philadelphia beverage company and the City Council president, is running against fellow Democrat Mary Eggleston, 36, a Head Start family-service worker.
Rolston, 51, a machinist, is facing Republican Edward Simpson, 43, who transports horses. Both Eggleston and Simpson support passage of the ballot measures.
In the Third Ward, Republican incumbent Winifred Mayo, 67, is challenged by Democrat Stephanie R. Smith, 46. In their race, it is incumbent Mayo who supports the ballot measures, and challenger Smith who opposes them.
In one of the few townships in the county with a Democratic majority, incumbent and county commissioner candidate Michele Vaughn faces Republican challenger John Mott, an engineer. Mott has based his campaign on leading residents opposed to a mixed-use development on Route 30.
Middle ward voters will decide a heated three-way race for Borough Council. The contest includes two write-in candidates.
Democrat James A. Del-Nero, 49, a mental-health worker, is the only name appearing on the ward ballot. But he is opposed by fellow Democrat Henry Wagner, 41, a printing press manager who said the party snubbed his candidacy, and by Republican Richard Breuer, 59, a Malvern lawyer, who jumped into the race to offer voters a GOP option.
Other races pit incumbent Democratic Councilman John A. Messina, 56, owner of a company that conducts clinical drug trials, against Republican Michael F. Conner, 40, shift manager for a trucking company, in the north ward; incumbent Republican Fred Bieler, 35, a painting contractor, against Democrat Letitia "Tish" Jones, 60, a critical-care nurse who served a brief appointment to council but lost the election four years ago, in the east ward; and incumbent Republican Kendrick Buckwalter, owner of a Malvern frame shop, against Alexander Kovach, 76, the borough's Democratic chairman, in the west ward.
The supervisors' race presents voters with a choice between incumbent Georgia Brutscher, a homemaker, and challenger B. Kristin Hoover, an environmental consultant. Like Mott in East Whiteland, Hoover is trying to capitalize on residents opposed to development, in this case the county's prison expansion.
Incumbent Brian Smith, an accountant, is trying to beat Republican primary winner Louis Gagliardi in a rematch of last May's contest. Gagliardi, a pharmaceutical salesman, beat Smith, who organized a write-in campaign, by 24 votes.
The race for an open seat on the Board of Supervisors focuses on the tripling of local real estate taxes this year - which Wallace officials had blamed on a misplaced decimal point.
Robert V. Bock, 73, a retired computer engineer who was appointed as a supervisor subsequent to the tax hike, is challenged by George Machikas, 46, a concrete contractor. Both are Republicans, though Bock appears on the ballot as a Democrat because he won that party's spot through write-in votes in the primary.
Key races include a Borough Council race in the second ward and a district justice campaign where the winner will play a key role in the municipality's crackdown on college student behavior and landlords.
The second ward contest pits Democrat Joe Norley, a merchant, against Republican Stephen Bond, who works for the West Chester Area School District's information technology department. Bond, a lifetime Democrat, changed parties in June after Norley beat him in May's primary.
Bond is trying to become the first African American candidate put into office under West Chester's ward system.
The other campaign is the one for a newly created magisterial district. Democrat Gwenn Knapp, a graphic artist, is trying to fend off real estate consultant and interior designer Nancy Wilkinson, the well-financed replacement Republican candidate.
Voters in eight townships will also decide whether to approve higher taxes to pay for preserving open space.
If approved, those townships - East Nantmeal, East Nottingham, Londonderry, London Grove, Upper Oxford, Lower Oxford, West Brandywine, and West Sadsbury - will join the list of 12 municipalities that have already approved such measures.
Six of nine seats on the Coatesville Area school board are up for election; only two candidates are incumbents. Two seats - in Region 2 - are contested, with three candidates, all newcomers, seeking the posts.
With two non-incumbents running unopposed in the Avon Grove School District, and School Board President JoAnna Stump withdrawing from the election in Region 1, there will be at least three new board members. There could be four, with three candidates, two of them incumbents, running for two seats in Region 3.
The Oxford Area School District also will have at least four new school board members. Two newcomers are running unopposed, and in Region 1, three candidates, none of them incumbents, are running for two seats.
In the West Chester Area School District, which just settled its first-ever teachers' strike, six candidates are vying for five four-year seats, and two are competing for one two-year seat.
Contact staff writer Nancy Petersen at 610-701-7602 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inquirer staff writers Dan Hardy, Reid Kanaley and Benjamin Y. Lowe contributed to this report.
For details on all the races, go to http://inquirer.philly.com/
Chester County Polling Information
Polls in Chester County are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Voters who find a problem at a polling place should call
the county Voter Services Bureau at 610-344-6410.