Barb S. Miller/Observer-Reporter

Filing petitions in the Washington County Elections Office before the deadline Tuesday were Benjamin Neil of California Borough and Antonia Pellegrini of Speers Borough, who are running for California Area and Charleroi Area school boards, respectively.

Although open seats on the Washington County bench have, in recent years, attracted a slew of candidates, as the filing deadline approached Tuesday, the field so far includes just two.

Joyce Hatfield Wise of Amwell Township and Traci McDonald-Kemp of McDonald Borough are listed on the Pennsylvania Department of State database as Washington County judicial hopefuls.

Hatfield Wise, 54, former attorney for the Washington County Children and Youth Services agency who now has a private law practice and McDonald-Kemp, 48, a Cecil Township magistrate and a former Washington County deputy district attorney, have filed as candidates in the May 21 Democratic and Republican primary elections.

The database was in error when it recorded a negative response for Hatfield Wise cross-filing, she said Tuesday, noting, “We surpassed the filing requirements on both sides.”

McDonald-Kemp raised a formidable campaign war chest of $41,600 in the final 35 days of 2018, according to a report filed by the Friends of Traci McDonald-Kemp.

“I’m out of my comfort zone to be a candidate,” she said. “I’ve consulted people who have done this before.”

Although she was elected district judge in 2015, the territory encompasses just four municipalities – Cecil, Mt. Pleasant and Robinson townships – in addition to her home community.

Hatfield Wise, announcing her campaign last month, was not a candidate prior to the Dec. 31, 2018, campaign finance reporting deadline.

Asked about her opponent’s fundraising, Hatfield Wise responded, “I don’t feel compelled to match anyone. It’s the electorate who will decide this race. Not money. Not political officials campaigning for others.”

Hatfield Wise is making her second countywide run since campaigning for a Washington County judgeship in 2017.

Since retiring from the county in September 2016 after more than 20 years of service, she accepts Washington County appointments in orphan’s court and juvenile delinquency matters. For half of last year, she also provided part-time legal services to Greene County Children and Youth.

Washington County Offices

Open seats in two Washington County row offices have attracted a host of candidates.

Republicans David Borodaty of Monongahela and Tom Flickinger of South Strabane Township will be vying for the GOP nomination as treasurer, while running for the Democratic nod are Lisa F. Carpenter of East Washington Borough and Joe Manning of Washington. Treasurer Francis King is retiring after six, four-year terms.

In the Register of Wills office, Mary Jo Poknis, who first ran in 2007, is also planning to retire. Running to be her successor on the Democratic ticket are Suzanne Archer and Judith L. Fisher, both of South Strabane Township; and Bob Sabot of North Franklin Township.

Republicans vying for nomination to the office, which includes the title clerk of orphan’s court, are Jerad Cypher of East Washington and James Roman of Canonsburg.

Three candidates are seeking seats on the board of commissioners. Each major party will nominate two candidates.

Democrats include incumbents Larry Maggi of Buffalo Township and Harlan Shober of Chartiers Township, plus Bobby Dellorso of North Strabane Township, a transportation coordinator.

Republican incumbent Diana Irey Vaughan of Nottingham Township will be on the ticket with Nick Sherman of North Strabane Township and Jason White of Canton Township.

Three countywide incumbents will have no opposition in the primary, but those who will be facing contests Nov. 5 are:

Incumbent Prothonotary Joy Schury Ranko of North Strabane Township, a Democrat, who will face Republican challenger Laura Hough of Daisytown, West Pike Run Township;

Incumbent Clerk of Courts Frank Scandale of Canonsburg, a Democrat, who has a Republican opponent, Brenda Davis, former Washington mayor;

And Incumbent District Attorney Gene Vittone of Bentleyville, a Republican, who will face Democrat M. Jacob Mihalov of Canonsburg, an assistant public defender.

Washington County Coroner S. Timothy Warco stands alone among those who chose to file petitions to hold that office.

Warco, a Democrat from Washington, is seeking his eighth, four-year term.

Magisterial District Judge

The retirements of three district judges have resulted in a spate of candidates seeking nominations and eventual election to six-year terms.

In the Mon Valley district that includes Charleroi, Dunlevy, Elco, North Charleroi, Roscoe, Speers, Stockdale and Twilight boroughs, plus Fallowfield Township, two candidates have cross-filed: Charleroi Police Chief Eric Porter and Charleroi attorney Suzanne M. Ruschak.

In the Canonsburg-Houston area, candidates who cross-filed include two Canonsburg police officers, James Saieva Jr. and Chuckie Tenny, and two attorneys, Glenn Alterio and Charles E. Kurowski. The district also includes Canton and Chartiers townships.

In the area that has a vacancy due to the retirement of District Judge Jay Weller, candidates who cross-filed are Jay Banaszak, a judicial liaison; Michael Manfredi, a South Strabane police officer; Clark Mitchell Jr. of South Strabane, an attorney; and Dawn R. Petrosky, a communications professional from East Washington.

Incumbent District Judge Joshua Kanalis of California Borough cross-filed for the district that includes his home community, Centerville, Coal Center, Long Branch and West Brownsville boroughs plus East Bethlehem Township.

Citywide candidates

In Washington, Democratic Mayor Scott Putnam faces a challenge from Republican Mark Kennison, a local pub owner.

The two Democratic city council candidates seeking four-year terms are incumbent Ken Westcott and Washington & Jefferson College student Trent Somes III, while the two Republican council candidates are Joseph DeThomas, who listed his occupation as warehouser, and Dana Hammond, a supervisor.

Incumbent city Controller Nicholas Dubina, a Democrat, is the sole candidate seeking a nomination for that office.

In Monongahela, mayoral candidates are Republican Claudia J. Williams, a business owner and council director of public safety, and Democrat Gregory L. Garry, city treasurer. Democratic incumbent Councilman Kenneth Kulak, director of accounts and finance, filed for his party’s nomination.

Township and borough offices, plus school directorships, are also on the ballot this year.

Staff Writer

Staff Writer Barbara S. Miller is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College. She covers Washington County government, courts and general assignments.

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