Flannelly, Platts
Flannelly, Platts

Former U.S. Rep. Todd Platts on Thursday announced plans to run for Common Pleas judge in York County.

Platts, who for 12 years represented the 19th District as a Republican, said he plans to cross-file in the May 21 primary. Cross-filing as a Republican and a Democrat is common practice for judge seats.

The former state and federal legislator, who officially retired last month, had previously said he was considering running for judge or taking an educational leadership role.

He and his wife, Leslie Platts, settled on a run for judge because it continues his career of public service without taking him far from his Spring Garden Township home, he said Thursday morning.

"It's public service in my own community," he said.

Platts only practiced law for a year, at York firm Barley, Snyder, Senft & Cohen, between law school and his run for the state's 196th District, which started his political career more than 20 years ago.

Acknowledging the lapse, Platts said he continued to be "engaged in legal matters" during his political tenure.

"I haven't practiced law for most of my career, in the traditional sense...but I kept my license active for all but one or two yeas and took continuing education classes," he said. "I have been engaged in drafting and helping to enact law."

The seats of judges Thomas H. Kelly and Michael E. Bortner are up for retention, and there's only one open seat on the bench this year, according to the York County Court Administrator's office.

The seat was left vacant when Judge Chuck Patterson died of a heart attack in 2011.

Last summer, Gov. Tom Corbett nominated then-York County Solictor Mike Flannelly to fill the seat. Flannelly was sworn in last July.

At that time, Flannelly said he intended to seek the seat in this year's election.

But the judge on Thursday didn't commit to any direction. He declined to comment on Platts' announcement and said he will issue a statement Tuesday announcing his own plans, whether or not he plans to run for the seat.

Flannelly, 56, had run unsuccessfully for the bench three times, most recently in 2011. He must run and win the election if he wants to secure the seat for a full 10-year term.

When Flannelly took the bench seat, county commissioners appointed Flannelly's assistant, Don Reihart, to "acting solicitor." Commissioners said Reihart would fill in until commissioners decide what to do with the vacant position. They still haven't decided, as Reihart is still "acting solicitor" and Flannelly's position is still vacant.

President County Commissioner Steve Chronister said Thursday that Flannelly, who was hired with the county in 2004, was given a leave of absence to become judge. He could return to the solicitor position if he chose to do so, Chronister said.

Platts declined to comment about Flannelly as a potential competitor, saying he runs for an office, not against an opponent.

Platts graduated from Pepperdine University School of Law in 1991, and Summa Cum Laude from Shippensburg University in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration.

He's a York native and 1980 graduate of York Suburban High School.