I n 1992, when Todd Platts first ran for public office -- the state House of Representatives -- I voted for him.
Same thing in 1994, 1996 and 1998, to complete his four terms in the state General Assembly.
In fact, midway through those four terms, Platts also ran for York County commissioner (1995). I voted for him then, too, though he lost.
Then Platts ran for the U.S. Congress in 1999. I voted for him again. Likewise the next five times he ran for re-election to Congress. Every time a winner.
They were fairly easy votes, to be honest, because I thought he was a good candidate -- the best candidate -- in each of those elections.
But I'm not going to vote for Platts this year, when he runs for election to the York County Court of Common Pleas.
Platts, as you almost surely know by now, retired from Congress last month after serving six terms. But at age 50, he's too young to retire to a life of leisure and coaching Little League baseball.
Like the rest of us, he's got a family and he's got bills to pay. So he's looking for another job, something closer to home, and a way to continue his career in public service.
Apparently he's decided he'd like to spend the rest of his professional life working as a judge on the local court.
And given Platts' ability to secure the York County vote nearly every time he's run for office -- the Republican vote in particular -- I have no doubt he will be a viable candidate for the only opening on the Court of Common Pleas next year.
But this time around, I have concerns.
I'd like to think the York County Court of Common Pleas will be filled with men and women not only learned in the law, but experienced in the practice of it.
In my mind that's a requirement. Maybe the most important requirement.
I want judges who have been up and down the road a few times, judges who have won cases and lost cases and spent some time in the practice of law, rubbing elbows with lawyers, not politicians, enforcing the law, not casting votes in favor of or against legislation that might eventually become law.
In other words, I want practicing lawyers for judges, not politicians for judges.
Especially, as is the case with Platts, a lawyer who's only worked one year -- and that back in 1991-92 -- in the practice of law, and that as a rank beginner just out of law school.
The truth is, and I've heard Platts say this any number of times over the years, his career goals from the very beginning were focused on politics. And he did it well.
That's not to say that Platts might not become a good judge, maybe even the best judge York County's ever had, but the learning curve for someone without much practical experience as a lawyer and very little experience in the courtroom is a big one.
And York County's court these days is packed. Busy. Overflowing with cases. We need judges who can hit the ground running, not someone who's going to stumble through the first year or two trying to find his/her way.
I'd be more impressed if Platts hired on with a local law firm, worked as a lawyer for half a dozen years or so, and then ran for judge.
But he's striking while the iron is hot -- he's walking a straight line from a seat in Congress to a seat on the county bench and no stops in between.
Why? Because he can. Because he knows he's a popular candidate in York County. He knows there are a lot of people who will vote for him for no better reason than he's Todd Platts.
That's not good enough for me.
When I think of Platts, I think of a politician, not a jurist.
When I think of Mike Flannelly, the judge who's sitting in the seat Platts aspires to, I think of a jurist, a longtime and hard-working lawyer in York County, not a politician.
Flannelly is someone who has earned the respect of his peers as a practicing lawyer.
This year, York County voters will be electing a judge who will be serving for the next 10 years. We need to get this right the first time around.
It's not that Flannelly is a nicer guy than Platts, or smarter, or a better public servant.
But he is an experienced lawyer, and a good one.
And by the time the general election is over in November, Flannelly will have served almost 18 months on the York County Court of Common Pleas as a fill-in for Judge Chuck Patterson, who died of a heart attack in 2011.
That's what we need on the county bench -- someone with experience as a lawyer and a judge.
If Flannelly runs, I'm voting for him.
Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.