Westmoreland Judicial Candidates Blast Party Politics

Article excerpt

Westmoreland County's judicial candidates on Monday criticized both parties for playing politics with the upcoming campaign for what is supposed to be a nonpolitical office.

County Democrats will not allow the two Republican judicial candidates to speak and seek a party endorsement on Saturday morning. The GOP has barred the six Democratic judicial candidates from speaking at the Republican spring dinner in April.

All eight judicial candidates have filed to run as both Democrats and Republicans. Judicial races in Pennsylvania are considered to be nonpolitical elections.

"The parties have made it political," said Chris Scherer, the county's Democratic sheriff, who is running for judge in both party primaries on May 19.

Along with Scherer, Democrats Meagan Bilik DeFazio, Mike Pacek, Chris Huffman, J. Eric Barchiesi and J. Russell McGregor Jr. filed to run in the GOP primary. Republicans Harry Smail Jr. and Michele Bononi also will run in the Democratic primary.

"It's supposed to be a nonpartisan election, and politics shouldn't play into it," Bononi said.

Several of the Democratic candidates said they were rebuffed in attempts to speak at Republican events earlier this month.

Democratic Party Chairman Dante Bertani said yesterday only Democratic candidates will be permitted to speak and seek an endorsement should the committee take such a vote at its annual convention on March 21.

Bertani said the decision to exclude the GOP candidates from the convention is one of tradition, although in 1999 Republican judicial candidates were permitted to address the convention. …