Two recognizable York County names are competing for an open seat on the Common Pleas bench Nov. 5, with a retired U.S. congressman and a sitting judge vying for the position.

While both are Republicans, they cross-filed for the primary. Both made it to the November race because retired 19th Congressional District Rep. Todd Platts won the Republican slot on the ballot and Judge Michael Flannelly took the Democratic position.

Flannelly: Flannelly said he has been in the practice of law for more than 30 years, much of that time spent doing trial work and litigation.

He was York County's solicitor for more than seven years, doing litigation and working on issues related to children and youth services, the York County Prison and the various other areas

Flannelly
Flannelly

that make up county government, he said.

Flannelly has held the position for which he's running since July 2012, having been appointed after Judge Chuck Patterson died unexpectedly.

He has spent more than a year already handling the cases and doing the job, he said, which makes him uniquely qualified for the position, he said.

A poll of members of the York County Bar Association showed 82 percent, or 261 members, saying Flannelly is "highly qualified," and an additional 13 percent, or 40 members, saying he is "qualified" for the position.

The candidate said being judge has been an aspiration of his for several years, and it requires a combination of fairness, integrity and legal skills. The job suits his temperament and abilities, he said.

Flannelly said he has also always had an interest in working with children, teaching Sunday school and working with youth at his church, in youth sports and in Scouting organizations.

He said he's "interested in helping kids have a better life" and, as a juvenile delinquencies judge, he has tailored case dispositions to meet the needs of the child.

With the input of other offices in the judicial system, he said, a judge "can effectuate an outcome for the kid that hopefully holds the kid accountable but steers the kid in the right direction."

Platts
Platts

Platts: Platts has spent 20 years as a lawmaker, serving eight years in the state House and 12 years in Congress.

He said he was the first person tapped to be appointed to fill Patterson's seat in 2011, but he declined because he wanted to seek election to the bench, not be appointed, and he wanted to finish his congressional term.

Congress was also in the middle of the reapportionment process, and leaving the district open during that time could have meant his district would be "carved up for the benefit of other districts, and I wanted York County to remain a base for the congressional district," he said.

Platts said being the incumbent might carry certain advantages, but he has been exercising the same skill sets as a judge over his decades as a legislator.

Judges must be the decision-makers in the courtroom, hearing the facts presented and ensuring the law is applied in a fair and impartial manner, he said.

As a legislator, he was called upon to make informed decisions about everything from medical issues to the nation's defense, he said.

"I have used my legal education every day for the past 20 years, in a different way," he said. If elected, he'll be helping to adjudicate the laws he helped write, he said.

While Flannelly scored higher with the Bar Association, Platts was endorsed by both the White Rose Lodge 15, made of York City officers, and York County Lodge 73, which includes officers from numerous departments across the county, he said.

If elected, Platts would be very active in the community, using his networks for judicial purposes such as building the volunteer staff of court-appointed special advocates for children who are abused or neglected, he said. There aren't currently enough of them, so some children have to go without, he said.

Platts said he would also like to be involved in the county's treatment courts, diversionary programs that place an emphasis on treatment for addictions and other afflictions to reduce the recidivism rates and save taxpayers money by helping participants avoid jail time.

He served on the county's treatment court advisory board this year, he said.

-- Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.

Get to know the candidates

MICHAEL FLANNELLY

Age: 57

Home: Spring Garden Township

Education: Undergraduate from College of Wooster, 1978, Wake Forest School of Law, 1982

Profession: Common Pleas judge

TODD PLATTS

Age: 51

Home: Spring Garden Township

Education: York Suburban 1980; Shippensburg 1984 BS in public administration; Pepperdine Univesrsity School of Law 1991

Profession: Attorney, retired U.S. representative in the 19th House District