Washington County judge candidates

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Here's a list of the judicial candidates in Washington County and their responses to questions posed by the Post-Gazette. The names appear in the same order as they will on the May 17 primary election ballot.

The term for a Common Pleas Court judge is 10 years. The annual salary is $164,602; the president judge is paid $166,036.


Democrat; crossfiled

AGE: 48

OCCUPATION: Master and hearing officer for Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas

HOME: North Strabane

FAMILY: Married; 15-year-old son

EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree, Washington and Jefferson College; law degree, American University Law School

BACKGROUND: "An attorney for 23 years having practiced in a wide variety of areas, but having a focus in family law. I have been a Master and Hearing Officer for the Court of Common Pleas for 11 years, a job very similar to that of a judge."

WHAT MADE YOU RUN? "It is a calling to serve my community. Most of my legal career has been in public service (law clerk, assistance county solicitor for Washington County, attorney for the Court Domestic Relations Section and Master and Hearing Officer). I find that I have a greater impact on more people's lives when working in the public sector, which is very gratifying."

WHY VOTE FOR YOU? "I possess honesty, integrity, a judicial demeanor and extensive experience. My colleagues agree. In 2008, I was awarded the prestigious 'Exemplary Service' award from the Bar Association."


Republican; crossfiled

AGE: 38


HOME: South Strabane

FAMILY: Married; three children ages 10 to 2

EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree, Washington and Jefferson College; law degree, University of Pittsburgh

BACKGROUND: Past assistant district attorney for Washington County; past assistant county solicitor for Washington County; private practice for over 10 years in the general practice of law (criminal, family law, civil litigation, trial lawyer, corporate, real estate and tax issues, juvenile law); municipal solicitor and trial lawyer; coach for Washington youth baseball, Trinity East youth football; deacon in Washington Alliance Church

WHAT MADE YOU RUN? "This vacancy on the bench was created due to the untimely death of my friend and colleague, Judge Mark Mascara. It is important that [he] is replaced by someone who espouses the same values.

"Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille and Gov. Ed Rendell stated that no judicial appointments would be made across the state to save money in the judicial budget unless there was an emergency and the county president judge requested that the seat be filled. President Judge Debbie O'Dell Seneca never requested that the vacancy be filled with an appointment.

"Three weeks before the November 2010 election, Gov. Rendell appointed Allegheny County lawyer Phil Melograne to the vacancy.

"This appointment violated the public's trust in the system, as well as local tradition. Typically, vacancies on the Washington County bench have always been filled by caretakers. This did not happen.

"I was offended, Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille and the Washington County Bar Association were offended and stated so publicly. So much so, that Chief Justice Castille and the Washington County Bar Association urged the Senate Judiciary Committee not to confirm Melograne.

"I decided to run to help put an end to politics as usual. My aim is to work every day to earn the respect of the citizens and the lawyers."

WHY VOTE FOR ME? "I feel compelled since Ed Rendell usurped the power of the voters.

"I want to put an end to politics as usual in the courthouse. I have personal and professional integrity and the right temperament.

"My experience as a prosecutor, county solicitor, municipal solicitor, trial attorney gives me the broadest base of legal experience."


Democrat, crossfiled

AGE: 59


HOME: Canton Township

FAMILY: Married

EDUCATION: Master's degree and law degree, Duquesne University

BACKGROUND: "In 31 years I have a multifaceted case load history, verifiable by courthouse computer records, larger than all three candidates combined. I have reversed more wrong judicial decisions than all three candidates combined."

WHAT MADE YOU RUN? "Always liked public service and helping people. I feel I can do a better job than one candidate practicing ten years and two that practice in Allegheny County. Keep Washington judges from Washington."

WHY VOTE FOR YOU? "I have tried more cases and have reversed more judge's bad decisions than all three candidates combined. This shows I have the experience, temperament, and compassion needed to be a judge."


Democrat, crossfiled

AGE: 50

OCCUPATION: Washington County Court of Common Pleas judge

HOME: Peters

FAMILY: Married; two sons, ages 10 and 7

EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree, University of Pittsburgh; law degree, Duquesne University

BACKGROUND: Served eight years as a prosecutor in the Allegheny County district attorney's office and 15 years in private practice as a litigator

WHAT MADE YOU RUN? "Becoming a judge is something that I've aspired to since I was a young man. I believe I can make a difference in people's lives and I look forward to serving the people."

WHY VOTE FOR YOU? "I believe that my work ethic, experience, judicial temperament and dedication to the law make me the best candidate."


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