A longtime York County corrections officer will run for an open district judge seat that covers West York, North York and Spring Garden Township.

John Wolfe, 40, of West York is one of three candidates running for the seat, which is open after Judge Walter Groom opted not to run again.

Wolfe, a Northeastern High grad, ran six years ago against Groom, the incumbent, and lost. He said he knew his chances of victory then were low; it's rare for an incumbent district judge to lose.

But Wolfe said he ran in that election to increase his name recognition for this run, as he thought Groom, approaching the mandatory retirement age of 70, was unlikely to run again.

Through his job at York County Prison, Wolfe said, he's seen what works in the system and what doesn't.

Changes: "I see a lot of things I'd like to change," said Wolfe, a Marine Corps veteran.

He said he too often sees people accused of crimes such as child abuse, rape and other sexual offenses in jail on low bail amounts. He said that wouldn't be the case with those cases if they came before him as district judge.

But in less severe cases, he'd like to see more options available for people trying to pay fines. If they can't pay the fine, throwing people in jail helps neither that person nor the public, which has to foot the bill, he said.

"I'm a strong advocate for alternative sentencing," he said, such as community service.

"Let them pay their debt to society the old-fashioned way," Wolfe said.

'Little guy': He said he didn't form a campaign committee, and he's only used his own money to finance his campaign.

"It's really hard to take someone's money without owing someone something," he said.

Getting himself on the ballot has been pretty much a one-man show, he said.

"I'm kind of the little guy in this," he said. "I collected all the signatures myself."

He said he collected "probably a little less than 400," which is fewer than either of has opponents but is well over the 150 needed to get on the ballot.

York City Police Officer Blake McBride and local attorney Jennifer Clancy also are running for the seat, and both have cross-filed, as Wolfe did.

In Pennsylvania, district judges are paid a yearly salary of $88,290.

— Reach Sean Philip Cotter at

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