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A southern York County attorney running to be the Shrewsbury area's new district judge said he views presiding over that magisterial court as another way of serving the community where he grew up.

Mike Caum was born and raised in Shrewsbury and said that, following in the footsteps of his parents, he has long been active in the borough. His father volunteered with the borough fire company and served on borough council in the 1970s.

Caum followed suit as a young adult.

He was elected to council in 1995 at age 20 and took office in '96, later resigning to attend law school. He was elected again in 2003 and served from 2004 to 2009 before moving outside borough limits, he said.

Caum, 42, lives in Shrewsbury Township with his wife, Samantha, and their two children, Mike, 10, and Natasha, 5.

He joined the Shrewsbury Volunteer Fire Co. at age 17 and has remained an active member since, he said. Whether battling house fires or helping to free a neighbor trapped in the wreckage of a car crash, Caum said it's rewarding work.

"You're helping people in their time of need, and that means a lot to me," he said. "That's why I got on borough council as well — to do good in people's lives. ... I wish more people would volunteer for the fire company."

He also teaches firefighting classes for various community colleges, he said.

In the borough: Caum's law office is across the street from the fire station, so he's often able to run on calls during regular business hours, as long as he's not scheduled in court, he said.

He opened his general law practice in the borough right after graduating from Dickinson School of Law in 2001, he said. Caum received his bachelor's degree in paralegal pre-law from Stevenson University in 1997.

"I've litigated hundreds of civil and criminal cases, and I've prepared hundreds of contracts," he said. "I've litigated pretty much all the different kinds of cases that come before district justices — the kind of stuff a typical family in southern York County would encounter."

Caum said his legal experience makes him the best candidate for the job.

"There are a lot of good nonlawyer district justices," he said, but he added he believes an attorney's legal training better prepares him or her for the job than the state-required six-week course all district judges must take and pass to serve.

'One shot at justice': Caum noted that district judges don't merely deal with summary offenses, traffic tickets and deciding whether criminal cases should be heard in county court. District courts also handle landlord-tenant disputes and serve as Pennsylvania's small-claims court for matters up to $12,000.

"This is your one shot at justice," he said. "Don't you want the (judge) who's drafted hundreds of contracts?"

Caum described himself as an avid sportsman and said he's a member of Seitzland Rifle Club outside New Freedom.

"I enjoy hunting and the outdoors," he said, adding he primarily hunts waterfowl now.

The magisterial district Caum is running for covers the boroughs of Jacobus, Loganville, Glen Rock, Shrewsbury, New Freedom and Railroad, as well as Springfield and Shrewsbury townships. Senior District Judge Nancy Edie currently presides over the office.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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