HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Eight candidates for four vacant Pennsylvania appellate court seats are scheduled to participate in an online forum on Monday, Sept. 20, six weeks before the November election.
The format will be question-and-answer, with most candidates’ responses limited to 30 seconds, according to Debbie Gross, president of Pennsylvanians for Moderns Courts, the good government advocacy group that helps sponsor the event with the Free Library of Philadelphia.
“I call it speed dating because they really have to have a short, sweet response,” Gross said.
Those interested in watching the event should register on the Pennsylvanians for Moderns Courts website. It starts at 7 p.m. and should last about an hour.
The moderator is Maureen McBride, who co-chairs the appeals department of a major law firm outside of Philadelphia and co-chairs the appeals defense committee of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
Voters typically have very little information when voting in Pennsylvania court elections, and there are no other high-profile statewide races this year to draw attention to the general election of November 2.
“This is why getting the word out is so important,” Gross said. “We elect judges, so we should know who we elect and they should not be elected by a few people. “
The Supreme Court competition pits Republican Commonwealth Court Judge Kevin Brobson against Democratic Superior Court Judge Maria McLaughlin over a vacant post created by the retirement of GOP Judge Thomas Saylor. The High Court is currently in the hands of the Democrats, 5-2, so the race will not change the partisan majority.
The opening on the Superior Court is from the retirement of Republican Judge Susan Gantman. It is an intermediate court of appeal that deals with civil and criminal matters in counties.
The Democrat is Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Timika Lane, and longtime prosecutor Megan Sullivan is the Republican.
The candidates for two openings at the Commonwealth Court are Philadelphia Judge Lori Dumas and Allegheny County Judge David Spurgeon, Democrats, and Bradford lawyer Stacy Wallace and Commonwealth Court judge appointed Drew Crompton, the republicans.
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