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Three candidates for judge discuss their ideas at forum
With just two weeks until the election, the three candidates for judge of the Court of Common Pleas participated in a Tuesday night public forum to push why they might be the best choice for the position.
The forum, moderated by G. Terry Madonna of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, was held at Evelyn and Earle Wolf Hall on the York College campus.
York County solicitor Mike Flannelly and York City-based attorneys Chris Menges and Kathleen Prendergast will appear on the Nov. 3 ballot with hopes of filling two vacant seats on the county bench.
Here is a brief look at what they had to say:
Flannelly: Flannelly, 59, of Spring Garden Township, has been solicitor since 2004 and held a seat on the bench in 2012, when he was appointed to the position after Judge Clarence "Chuck" Patterson died in 2011.
Flannelly said the most pressing issue for the York County court system is the judicial shortage, and the judges elected need to be ones with enough experience to be able to start on day one. He cited his own time on the bench in 2012 as such experience.
Flannelly said that being judge would be a chance to impact people in a meaningful way.
This is Flannelly's fifth time running for judge.
"I'm a really bad politician, but on the positive side, it shows a real commitment," he said.
He brought up a new idea on how to handle custody cases.
"I would like to see a scenario where we develop special days that only deal with custody cases," he said.
He said with that he would be able to give the cases the time they need.
Menges: Menges, 64, of Warrington Township, is a partner with Trinity Law, A Menges & McLaughlin Firm, and has been practicing law for 32 years.
Menges said the most pressing issue was the area of family law. He pushed the idea of "One Family, One Judge," an idea that six judges would be assigned a sixth of the alphabet so they could familiarize themselves with the families they would deal with. He cited Lancaster County's adoption and success with the plan as a reason why it would be useful.
Menges mentioned his desire to help people many times.
"I love doing all the things that are messy. I love helping people," he said.
He cited his more than 30 years of experience dealing with various cases as a reason why he would be able to handle different types of cases if need be.
"Sometimes you have to pinch hit for somebody else. As a hard worker, I'm willing to do that," he said.
Prendergast: Prendergast, 52, of York City, runs her own law firm in York City and ran for a seat in 2009 but came in third to Harry Ness and Chuck Patterson.
Prendergast said the most pressing issue was that judges need to be flexible because there is a shortage and judges are switching assignments. She believes her experience matches that.
"Don't look at what I say I'm going to do, look at what I've done," she said.
She cited her experience as a teacher and in family and orphan court as why she would be flexible.
Prendergast said she has had to train new judges on family court on "numerous occasions" because of her experience with it.
She said judges need to lead by example and should use a sidebar to address attorneys if they are not acting the way the judge would like.
"I'm not a big fan of criticizing attorneys in front of their client," she said.
She said attorneys need to be encouraged to take clients at a lower rate.
She also said she has been endorsed by the York City Police for her work with families.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org.