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York County judges ceremonially sworn in
Kathleen Prendergast has waited a long time to be sworn in as a York County judge in front of friends and family, and, thanks to a coin toss, she had to wait just a little longer Wednesday morning.
Longtime attorney Prendergast and federal prosecutor Christy Fawcett were ceremonially sworn in as the county's two newest Court of Common Pleas judges in front of a full room of onlookers in the York County Judicial Center that included friends, family, commissioners and colleagues.
Fawcett went first after winning a coin toss, President Judge Joseph C. Adams explained to those in attendance.
Both women officially took the oath of office during a private ceremony on July 5 and have been presiding over cases since that time.
Prendergast has stood for election to the bench three times; the most recent was last year, when she lost to former county solicitor Michael W. Flannelly and Warrington Township attorney N. Christopher Menges.
"It's been a long journey," she said, before thanking friends, family, colleagues and Gov. Tom Wolf and state Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, who both supported appointing her and Fawcett. "This is the end of a journey in the sense that I get the job I wanted, but the beginning in that it's now about what I can do in this position."
Prendergast said she's been enjoying her first couple of weeks presiding over cases and that her 22 years serving as an attorney have helped her avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Wednesday's ceremony was "perfect," Prendergast said, pointing out the importance of having her friends and family present.
"At the end of the election, I felt like I had disappointed them because they put in so much effort," she said. "This accomplishment is as much for them as it is for me."
Fawcett echoed Prendergast's sentiment in her post-swearing-in speech, saying that none of the honor would be possible or have meaning without her friends and family.
Adams, in his closing remarks, noted that the appointments were needed to fill the "well-documented number of vacancies" that have put stress on the county's judicial system.
York County's vacancies occurred when former judges Thomas H. Kelley VI and John W. Thompson Jr. retired from the bench last year. Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh intends to retire in the near future. Another temporary vacancy exists because Judge Craig T. Trebilcock is on active duty with the U.S. Army this year.
Nikki Suchanic, head of the York County election office, previously confirmed that Prendergast and Fawcett will serve through 2017. That's the year the two seats previously held by Kelley and Thompson will appear on the ballot.
Prendergast said she intends to run for a full 10-year term, but Fawcett said she hasn't decided if she'd seek a full term.
The appointments immediately double the number of women serving on the 15-seat bench, as Prendergast and Fawcett join Judges Maria Musti Cook and Andrea Marceca Strong.