By: Dennis Whitaker
Join us tonight as we live tweet from the Commonwealth Court Candidates Forum at Widener Commonwealth Law School in Harrisburg beginning at 7:00 p.m., and then check back tomorrow for our summary of the Forum.
By way of background, there are four candidates, two Democrats and two Republicans, running for two open seats on Commonwealth Court. The seats opened when Judge Dan Pellegrini (D) and Judge Bonnie Brigance Leadbetter (R) took senior judge status at the end of 2016. Governor Wolf appointed Joseph Cosgrove (D) and Julia Hearthway (R) to fill the vacancies. Judge Cosgrove was unsuccessful in seeking his party’s nomination for a full term in the May primary elections and Judge Hearthway elected not to run for a full term. The candidates at tonight’s forum are: Christine Fizzano Cannon (R), currently a judge on the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas; Ellen Ceisler (D), currently a judge on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas; Irene Clark (D), a former Pittsburgh Municipal Court Judge who most recently concentrated on blight revitalization; and, Paul Lally (R), an attorney in private practice who focuses on labor and employment issues for municipalities and public school clients. The composition of commissioned judges on Commonwealth Court currently stands at six Republicans and one Democrat, with the two vacant seats to be filled on November 7. The Republicans still will hold a majority of the commissioned judgeships regardless of the outcome of the election, with the final composition being 6-3, 7-2 or 8-1 Republicans to Democrats depending on the results.