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2021 Dem Candidates: PA and CHESCO judicial seats

For Magisterial District Judges, see here. For Chesco row offices, see here. For other offices, see individual zones’ info here.

CCDC endorsements below are from the Feb. 16 endorsement convention; those from State Committee carry over to CCDC. Candidates do not need to be endorsed to appear on the ballot. Judicial candidates are allowed to cross-file, meaning that some candidates appearing on the Dem primary ballot may not be Democrats.



PA Supreme Court (one vacancy; the state’s court of last resort, with seven justices for whom a full term is 10 years, with retention thereafter subject to voters; currently 5 D’s and 2 R’s, of whom one reaches mandatory retirement age of 75 during 2021)

Maria McLaughlin (endorsed by State Committee and CCDC) 

A lifelong resident of Pennsylvania, first in her family to attend college, Maria McLaughlin personifies hard work. She grew up in the Overbrook section of West Philadelphia and graduated from Penn State and Delaware Law School-Widener University. During her final year of law school, she clerked for the President Judge of the Superior Court, where she is now a member. For 19 years after law school, she worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia and Chief of the Child Support Enforcement Unit. Of utmost importance to her was safeguarding the rights of children. In 2017, she led the ticket statewide for a seat on the Superior Court. She has dedicated numerous hours to anti-violence, anti-drug, and re-entry programs, youth organizations, and helping women in prisons prepare for success outside the prison system. She has often been an instructor or guest speaker on a variety of topics for bar associations, schools, universities and law schools. Giving back to the community was instilled in her from an early age. She and her husband, Jonathan Saidel, treasure their blended family of six adult children and four grandchildren.

Maria McLaughlin‘s web site, Facebook



PA Superior Court (one vacancy and 2 judges running for retention): 15 ten-year judge positions; one of two statewide intermediate appellate courts, PA Superior Court reviews most of the civil and criminal cases appealed from Courts of Common Pleas; the 14 current non-senior judges are split evenly between D’s and R’s.

Timika Lane (endorsed by CCDC) 

Judge Timika Lane was born and raised in West Philadelphia. After graduating from Howard University, she took on the challenge of teaching social studies to middle school students in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Following a successful teaching career, she decided to pursue a career in law and in 2002 received her Juris Doctor degree from Rutgers-Camden School of Law. She has represented clients in family law, from support to custody issues, and represented indigent families. She went on to work as a major trial attorney for the Defender Association of Philadelphia and then as Chief Legal Counsel for State Senator Anthony H. Williams and as the Democratic Executive Director for the Pennsylvania State Senate State Government Committee, where she challenged Pennsylvania’s restrictive Photo ID law, assessed the constitutionality of proposed and existing legislation, and provided legal advice and guidance regarding the legal implications of legislation, regulations, and administrative policies. In 2013, she decided to pursue a seat on the Court of Common Pleas and despite seemingly insurmountable odds was elected. She handles cases in human trafficking, domestic/family violence, sexual assault, attempted murder, aggravated assault, arson, robbery and burglary. She is a member of many professional and civic boards and committees, and is active in ministries and relief programs.

Timika Lane’s web site, Facebook

Jill Beck 

Raised in Pittsburgh, Jill received a degree in criminal justice from George Washington University and served in various capacities with underprivileged populations like delinquent girls and adolescents on probation. After graduating at the top of her class from Duquesne University School of Law, she worked for the nonprofit KidsVoice, representing abused and neglected children in court. She spent the next 10 years as a law clerk under the Honorable Christine Donohue on Pennsylvania’s Superior and Supreme Courts, drafting decisions for criminal, civil, family, juvenile, and orphans’ court cases. In 2019 she became a civil litigator at Blank Rome, representing victims of domestic violence, assisting those experiencing housing insecurity, supporting low-income criminal defendants and litigants who represent themselves in court, and aiding in voter protection efforts. As a member of Blank Rome’s Pro Bono Coordinating Committee, she has addressed criminal justice reforms, civil rights, voter protection and the right to protest. She resides with her husband in Pittsburgh, where she is an active volunteer in her children’s classrooms and in her community. Jill knows that justice is served only when every person – regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or income – has fair and equal access to the courts.

Jill Beck’s web site, Facebook. See her 1:33-minute video here.

Bryan Neft

Bryan was born and raised in Pittsburgh. The son of a small businessman and a lawyer, he attended UPenn and graduated from Boston University School of Law in 1989. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife and their children. He began his career as a clerk for the Pennsylvania Superior Court and has a first-hand understanding of the Court’s caseload. He served for nearly 15 years in a leadership role, including as president, on the Allegheny County Bar Association’s Board of Governors, where he championed issues affecting women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ members of the legal profession, promoted changes to the rules of professional conduct to prohibit bias, and chaired the committee responsible for drafting the Bar Association’s Code of Professionalism, still in use today. That work led the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to appoint him as a member, and later chair, of its charitable arm, the IOLTA Board, which oversees funding of agencies that provide legal services to those who cannot afford them. The values of hard work, fairness and access to justice continue to guide him every day.

Bryan Neft’s web site, Facebook



PA Commonwealth Court (two seats will be open, and 2 judges are running for retention): judges serve a full term of 10 years, with retention thereafter subject to voters; one of two statewide intermediate appellate courts; decides most cases in three-judge panels in Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh; current non-senior judges are 7 R’s, 2 D’s, and 1 nonpartisan).

David Spurgeon (endorsed by State Committee and CCDC) 

Judge David Spurgeon earned his B.A. from Duquesne University in 1993) and J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law in 1996, when he began his career in private practice. He joined the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office as an Assistant DA in 1998, and in 2009 was promoted to Deputy District Attorney, maintaining a full trial calendar and superviseing a large group of attorneys. An advocate of diversionary courts, he helped create Veterans’ Court and supervised the attorneys assigned to Mental Health Court. He was integral in the development of the first specialized accountability docket in Pennsylvania to address repeat batterers and implemented the first Intimate Partner Violence Homicide Review Team to identify systematic breakdowns. Since 2016 he has served in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, handling all matters involving children and families. A nationally recognized expert on domestic violence, he regularly participates in various local, state, and national forums, including recently discussing the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on family violence. He has taught at Point Park University and currently at Duquesne University School of Law. He serves on many boards and committees: for the Allegheny County Bar Association, in support of domestic violence victims and children, and within his family church.

David Spurgeon’s Facebook

Lori Dumas

The Honorable Lori A. Dumas is an impactful voice in the City of Philadelphia. As a Common Pleas Court Judge in the Philadelphia Family Court’s Juvenile Division, she has fought for fair and equal justice for Philadelphia’s most vulnerable children and families and presided over thousands of trialsy. She guided the City of Philadelphia in its creation of the First Judicial District’s Juvenile Human Trafficking Court to provide services to young victims of commercial exploitation. She led many initiatives to lead system children to success. She serves as the local Chair of a national anti-violence program which uses literacy as a therapeutic tool to assist youth traumatized by violence. She has worked tirelessly with a number of boards and organizations, served on several committees of the First Judicial District and taught legal courses at local institutions. A native Philadelphian, she received her BA in Sociology from Duke University and her JD from North Carolina Central University School of Law; she graduated from UPenn’s Fels Institute of Government, holds a Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University and is licensed as a Personal Care Home Administrator. She is the mother of two adult children and a middle school student.

Lori Dumas’s web site; social media: Facebook. View her 1:25-minute video here.

Amanda Green-Hawkins

Amanda, a product of the public school system, earned her BA from Duke University, then worked three jobs while attending Northeastern University School of Law. Her mother, a factory worker, and her father, a truck driver and member of the Carpenters Union, inspired her passion for defending workers’ rights. Her first civil rights victory came in helping craft the legal argument that saved jobs in a California factory and guaranteed workers fair and equal treatment. After clerking for a demanding appellate judge in New Jersey, rather join a high-powered firm she chose to defend the rights of citizens whose voices are often marginalized. At the United Steelworkers, she fights for blue collar families and the underprivileged. She ran and won twice as a member of the Allegheny County Council and has served on many community boards. She worked on election protection teams in three presidential election cycles, was a member of the Electoral College in 2012 and has taken many pro-bono cases. She will bring well-formulated, reasoned arguments to the court. Active members of their community, Amanda and her husband live and work in the City of Pittsburgh with their two children.

Amanda Green-Hawkins’s web site, Facebook; download her 4:22-minute CCDC presentation here

Sierra Thomas Street 

Raised by a single mother in a working-class family, Judge Street graduated from Howard University, majoring in Political Science and English, and from Temple University School of Law, where she served as President of the Black Law Students Association. While in college she interned at the US Department of State and at the White House in law school. She worked as a law clerk and then Hearing Officer in Philadelphia Family Court while representing members of a local union. She then became a Trial Attorney at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, representing indigent juveniles and adults. Then as Chief Counsel at Friends Rehabilitation Program, a non-profit providing affordable housing and social services to families, she prepared development applications, supervised development projects, handled zoning issues, and represented the agency in legal matters. In 2013, she was elected to the Court of Common Pleas in the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, where she has conducted trials in serious felony matters and statutory appeals involving government entities. She has served on many boards and committees. A member of the Historic Bright Hope Baptist Church in North Philadelphia for over 15 years, Judge Street has two children and one grandchild.

Sierra Thomas Street’s web site, Facebook



Chester County Court of Common Pleas

The Court of Common Pleas of Chester County is a general jurisdiction trial court located in West Chester. There are currently 13 full-time Judges (including 3 D’s and 10 R’s) and 1 Senior Judge, and 2 expected openings. The Judges hear a wide spectrum of cases, including adult and juvenile criminal prosecutions, lawsuits involving money or property, divorce, custody disputes, child support issues, adoptions, and estates.

Alita Rovito (endorsed by CCDC) 

Alita Rovito believes that a good judge must possess impeccable personal integrity, a love of service, and the experience and compassion to apply the law with fairness and respect. Alita has 33 years legal expertise serving the citizens of Chester County. She is the only candidate for Judge on the Court of Common Pleas with 15 years of judicial experience as a hearing officer in the Family Court Masters Unit. She has served as an educator for other attorneys through continuing legal education, as a Mock Trial coach for high school and college students, as a Moot Court judge for college students, as a leader for the Girl Scouts, as a board member for the Crime Victims Center, and as a volunteer for the Access to Justice Program. Alita is a graduate of Penn State University and Dickinson School of Law. She served as an Assistant District Attorney in Chester County and was the first managing attorney of the Chester County’s Child Abuse Unit. She is the founding member of Rovito Law LLC, where she represents men and women in all aspects of family law. She has served as an advocate, mediator, and private arbitrator. Alita’s experience, both personal and professional, makes her uniquely qualified to be a compassionate and fair Judge on the Court of Common Pleas.

Alita Rovito’s web site, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. See her 5:01-minute video here.

Carlos Barraza   

Carlos is a career public servant who will bring to the Court of Common Pleas his dedication, experience, and integrity, and his unique perspective for protecting the most vulnerable members of our society, fighting for those who have no champion and bringing justice to those who have been denied it. His experience as a prosecutor over the past 18 years includes handling cases from DUI cases to domestic violence to sexual assault to murder. He has prosecuted over 20 homicide cases and served as lead counsel in over 80 jury trials, 15 bench trials and thousands of other matters. He has been recognized with such prestigious awards as the Prosecutor of the Year and earned promotions from Assistant District Attorney to Deputy District Attorney to now Senior Deputy District Attorney. Since 2013, he has trained all new Assistant District Attorneys. He also has extensive experience using computer forensic techniques to retrieve, analyze and utilize electronic data in investigations and prosecutions. He graduated from the University of Connecticut and University of Wisconsin Law School A native Spanish speaker born in Mexico, he became a US citizen in 2011 and lives in Kennett Square.

Carlos Barraza’s Web site, Facebook. See his 5:42-minute video here.

Tony Verwey 

Tony has over 30 years of diverse legal experience and a proven track record of public service. Since 2017 at Gawthrop Greenwood in West Chester, he has worked with elected officials at the county and municipal level, appointed boards and commissions, and private clients on a wide range of legal matters including government, ethics, taxation, prevailing wage, education law, real estate development, zoning and land use. In 2006-2017 he was at Unruh, Turner, Burke and Frees, and in 2004-2006 was sole proprietor of a law practice representing clients in a variety of matters including legal ethics, professional discipline defense, litigation and wills and estates. In 1993-2004, for the Office of Disciplinary Counsel of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, District II, he directed investigations of alleged attorney misconduct. He received his J.D., 1989, from Widener University School of Law after graduating in 1986 from Penn State University. He has made many professional presentations and most recently earned recognition as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer – 2020 (Land Use/Zoning) and as a Main Line Today – 2020 Top Lawyer (Municipal Law).

Tony Verwey’s Facebook. See his 5:41-minute video here.

37 South High St.
    West Chester, PA 19382


(610) 692-5811

email CCDC

    

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