Editorial

The Observer-Reporter building in Washington

It took only 239 years, but Washington County will finally have its first black female judge on the Court of Common Pleas.

Traci McDonald-Kemp on Tuesday defeated former Washington County Children and Youth Services attorney Joyce Hatfield Wise on both the Democratic and Republican sides of the ballot to clinch her spot on the county’s top court.

“I’m proud to be the first female African-American judge on the Court of Common Pleas,” McDonald-Kemp said Tuesday night at her victory party. “But I want people to vote for me not just based on that, but because I’m a qualified candidate. And the bonus is (that I’m the first), right?”

And McDonald-Kemp was, indeed, a qualified candidate. She formerly was a Washington County deputy district attorney and now serves as a magisterial district judge.

In 2015, the year she was elected district judge for the Cecil area, McDonald-Kemp attended the “Ready to Run” campaign training program offered by Chatham University’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics.

Reacting to McDonald-Kemp’s win, Dana Brown, executive director of the Chatham program, said becoming “the first woman of color on the bench, that is to be acknowledged.”

“Diverse experience may inform how a judge may rule or how a representative would legislate,” added Brown. “We’re always advocating for diversity across our governments. Gender diversity is at the top of mind here at the Center for Women in Politics, because there’s such a great gender gap in the state of Pennsylvania in public service.”

So, kudos to McDonald-Kemp for her victory, and for bringing a fresh perspective to the county’s top court.

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