Voters selected a candidate for Common Pleas judge in Westmoreland County in Tuesday's primary.
Attorney Meagan Bilik DeFazio won the Republican and Democratic nominations for a vacant seat on the Court of Common Pleas. She received nearly 45 percent of the vote for the Republican nod and just edged out attorney Bill McCabe for the Democratic nomination, garnering 41 percent of the vote. Mr. McCabe won 39 percent of the vote.
Mrs. DeFazio, Mr. McCabe and Harry F. Smail Jr. were all cross-filed on both party ballots.
Mrs. DeFazio, 38, of North Huntingdon, and Mr. Smail, 47, of Hempfield, are Republicans. Mr. McCabe, 57, of North Huntingdon is a Democrat.
Mrs. DeFazio has five years of criminal experience in the public defender's office, and a total of 12 years of trial experience. In the last couple of years, she has focused on representing land owners in oil and gas litigation. She ran unsuccessfully for judge in 2009.
She said on Wednesday she hopes to work in Family Court.
"I'm really hoping to be part of the Family Court most involved with the children's cases," she said. "That's really where my heart is."
Mrs. DeFazio is board vice president of Court Appointed Special Advocates, who protect the rights of abused and neglected children. She is married with three children, ages 7, 5 and 2.
"I'm just so honored to have the support of my county, and I'm so thankful that the voters believed in me and believed in my message, and I think that they understood that my passion for the Family Court was genuine," she said on Wednesday.
The vacancy on the 11-member court was created when Judge John Driscoll, of the family division, was forced to retire at age 70 last year under an amendment to the state's constitution.
Mr. Driscoll and several other judges in the state, however, are challenging that mandatory retirement age as discriminatory in both state and federal courts. The state's Commonwealth Court heard arguments on three lawsuits earlier this month.
The only other contested countywide race was the Republican nomination for prothonotary, the county office that keeps civil court records.
Incumbent prothonotary Christina O'Brien is running unopposed on the Democratic ballot for another four-year term. Carl Stepanovich, 68, of Murrysville and Mike Powers, 25, of Hempfield ran for the GOP nomination.
Mr. Powers, a supervisor for UPS in New Stanton, won Tuesday's primary with nearly 63 percent of the vote.