Voting Information for 2021 Primary
1) CHESTER COUNTY ROW OFFICES
BE SURE TO VOTE BOTH SIDES OF YOUR BALLOT!
Chester County row offices on the ballot in 2021:
• Clerk of Courts
The row officers, so named from the floor plan of their former quarters, are elected officials who are responsible for running the County’s various offices. Their term of office is 4 years; the other 5 row offices (District Attorney, Prothonotary, Recorder of Deeds, Register of Wills, and Sheriff) will be up for election in 2023.
The County Clerk of Courts manages paperwork for criminal court filings and records in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas, handling 6,000 cases each year. The office also staffs all criminal, juvenile and dependency hearings for the Chester County Court of Common Pleas. It assesses fines, costs and restitution and collects fees in conjunction with the Chester County Adult Probation and Parole Department. It collects bail money and returns it upon completion of court action; and it maintains records and dockets for a variety of matters including constables and private detectives.
A native of Massachusetts, with degrees from Hamilton College and the University of Delaware, Yolanda spent 22 years as a bank executive in the Philadelphia region. Her long list of volunteer work includes Board President of Tredyffrin Township Libraries and Assistant Treasurer of West Chester Rotary. She ran successfully for Clerk of Courts in 2017 to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely and to streamline services to ensure that the administration of justice is efficient and accurate. As Clerk of Courts, she has implemented e-filing and other technological improvements. Her overall philosophy is that accurate records provide the basis for fair trials for victims and defendants alike.Working with the DA, the President Judge and Juvenile Probation, she is expunging records for non-violent, low-level juvenile offenders who qualify but have neglected to expunge their records before they turned 18; thus “because of our collaboration on juvenile expungements, a mistake will no longer define a person’s life and limit their opportunities.” As a Board member of the Friends Association, Yolanda has been instrumental in setting up Chester County’s Eviction Prevention Court program.
Yolanda Van de Krol’s Facebook
The County Controller supervises the fiscal affairs of the County, including the accounts, transactions and official acts relating thereto, of all officers and persons entrusted with the public funds of the County. The Controller maintains all fiscal and accounting records, processes, accounts payable and other disbursements, manages payroll and retirement benefits, and is responsible for the internal audit function. The Controller maintains custody and stewardship of all County contracts and monitors all contract, agreement and lease payments to ensure that no payment exceeds the limits or terms of those documents.
Margaret holds a degree in Economics and Finance from the University of Scranton. She was controller for a Malvern-based non-profit, managed a family-owned small business for over 25 years, and worked as investment liaison at Vanguard. She has been a community activist for issues such as maintaining open space and child advocacy. She has provided transparency, accountability and efficiency to the residents of Chester County by bringing a fresh eye to precious taxpayer resource allocation. As Controller, she has found ways to improve and streamline processes within the County leading to significant cost savings for the taxpayers.
Margaret Reif’s Facebook; view her 4:01-minute video here.
The Chester County Coroner heads an independent agency serving the citizens and honoring the deceased of the County by investigating the facts and circumstances concerning jurisdictional deaths which have occurred within Chester County. The office determines the cause and manner of death and the identity of the decedent, and provides notification to the legal next of kin, while exhibiting the highest degree of compassion, professionalism, and integrity.
Sophia Garcia-Jackson, the County’s Chief Deputy Coroner, works closely with incumbent Christina VandePol, who has decided not to seek reelection. Sophia manages and oversees all functions of the office: administration, investigations, transportation and morgue-related duties. She has supervisor-on-duty responsibilities and is the direct supervisor for the investigators. Her achievements include streamlining the budget process and changing how payments are made in order to enhance transparency. She sits on multiple task forces throughout the County, coordinating with local law enforcement and other agencies. With the Coroner she shares duties including signing death certificates by providing cause and manner of death. Previously, she worked for the State of New Jersey as a Death Investigator for 6 years. She holds a master’s degree in Forensic Medicine from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from California State with a certification in Forensic Identification, and has completed several internships and training programs. Sophia is certified with the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators and is working on the next level of fellowship and certified with the Pennsylvania Coroner’s Education Board. She will be prepared to lead the office on day one and will keep pushing for a modern forensic facility that provides the proper safety mechanisms for the office to work in the most important of circumstances, like a pandemic.
Sophia Garcia-Jackson’s Facebook
The Chester County Treasurer collects real estate taxes for the County and 23 municipalities, issues licenses for dogs, hunting, and fishing, collects hotel tax, and maintains mortgage files.
Patricia holds a RN degree from St. Francis School of Nursing and a Doctorate in Health Sciences from Sheffield University. She was sole founder and CIO of IKOR International Inc., providing patient advocacy and professional guardianship services to the profoundly disabled and seniors, a company that from Chester County has grown to more than 70 offices in 20 states. She has served as board member for the YMCA of Brandywine Valley and the Kennett Senior Center. She has the financial experience of successfully running a company and the assets of other individuals for many years. She has conducted her entire business career guided by the core values of integrity, transparency and trust, which she brings to County government. Patricia uses her corporate experience to ensure the Office of the Treasurer maintains tight accounting controls and the ability to innovate to improve services.
Patricia Maisano’s Facebook
2) PENNSYLVANIA AND CHESCO JUDICIAL SEATS
BE SURE TO VOTE BOTH SIDES OF YOUR BALLOT! For the 4 questions on the back of the ballot, see 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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 supervising 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
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 trials. 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.
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.
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 Department of State and at the White Housein 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.
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 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.
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.
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).
3) MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT JUDGES
BE SURE TO VOTE BOTH SIDES OF YOUR BALLOT!
Every odd year, we vote on 1/3 of the 17 Magisterial District Judge seats in the County plus any vacancies that are to be filled. For all Magisterial District Judge territories, see here.
The Magisterial District Judges are part of the unified judicial system of the Pennsylvania court system. Each MDJ is elected to a 6-year term of office and holds hearings on the following:
- Summary cases (both traffic and non-traffic related matters)
- Civil and Landlord/Tenant cases not exceeding $12,000
- Criminal cases
- Preliminary Hearings on misdemeanor and felony cases
For more about MDJ duties, see the County site. See other judicial positions on the ballot here. Info on 2021 candidates will be added to as we receive updates. CCDC endorsements are from the Feb. 16 endorsement convention; candiates do not need to be endorsed to appear on the primary ballot. Judicial candidates are allowed to cross-file, meaning that some candidates appearing on the Dem primary ballot may not be Dems.
MDJ Districts / Municipalities / Dem candidates 2021 (for Dem Zones, see here)
15-1-01 West Chester 3, 6, 7, East Bradford, West Bradford (Dem zones 7, 9)
Marc J. Lieberman, Esq. is an attorney in private practice with over 20 years of experience, handling nearly every type of case dealt with by the District Courts. He is a graduate of Henderson High School, West Chester University and Widener Law School and began his career at the Chester County Public Defender’s office. He is also a former small business owner and founder. He has been the judge of elections for 6 years at his polling place; additionally Marc has volunteered with Access to Justice, Wills for Heroes and at Paradise Farm. As an MDJ, Marc would work to develop addiction recognition training and a program to help identify high-risk individuals and get them into treatment sooner. Marc believes that every problem can be overcome with determination and creative thinking. For the past 17 years, he has lived in East Bradford with his wife and two children.
Daniel is the only lifelong Democrat seeking this position and the only candidate dedicated to public service. As a prosecutor, Daniel has tried cases ranging in severity from DUI to homicide. His trial experience and understanding of rules of procedure will serve him well as District Judge. Daniel believes the District Court can positively influence the community. As a prosecutor, he holds the belief that it is better to teach and treat rather than simply punish and incarcerate. This is why he is a supporter of the expansion of treatment courts. Making our community the kindest and safest place is important to him because he understands that the community will help shape his two little boys. This community focus is what has kept Daniel in public service and why he seeks this position. He is responsible, reasonable and relatable – attributes a District Judge must possess. In addition to his unmatched qualifications, he will bring a type of young energy and positive outlook that our community can be proud of.
15-1-02 East Goshen, Easttown, Malvern, Tredyffrin E1, E2, M1, M5, M6, W3, W4, Willistown (Dem zones 12, 14, 15, 16, 17)
Now more than ever, it is critical that judges at all levels of the judicial system have the qualifications, training and experience to properly evaluate the merits of cases and impartially apply the law. No one should leave a courtroom feeling like they didn’t get a fair shake because the judge was partial to one side or lacked the experience necessary to fully appreciate the legal or practical implications of his or her decision. As an attorney with broad experience in criminal law (as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney) and civil law (representing clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to an infant born into the foster system), I will be able to accurately evaluate all legal issues that will come before me as District Judge. Electing the most qualified judges is good public policy and best serves the community, the taxpayers, and the judicial system.
15-1-03 Coatesville 2, 4, South Coatesville (Dem zones 4, 20)
15-1-04 West Chester 1, 2, 4, 5 (Dem zone 9)
15-2-07 Upper Uwchlan, Uwchlan, West Pikeland (Dem zones 10)
Note: Due to a technicality, Paige did not get on the Dem primary ballot. So if you live in Uwchlan, Upper Uwchlan or West Pikeland, for MDJ do not vote for the one candidate on the ballot (who is a cross-filed R) but fill in the WRITE-IN oval and write in PAIGE SIMMONS. To see what it looks like, download your Dem sample ballot here.
Paige Simmons has handled hundreds of civil cases, including commercial and residential landlord-tenant disputes and small claims disputes. She is Corporate Counsel for a national real estate company and before that founded a firm that provided counsel to local businesses, community associations and property owners. She has handled a wide range of cases such as a veteran get his home back after being scammed, working with an Airbnb owner to remove a guest who refused to vacate, and disputes between homeowners over sewer line issues. She holds an undergraduate degree in business and a law degree from Case Western Reserve and is working on her Master’s in Public Administration at Johns Hopkins. She serves on the boards of the Chester County Women’s Commission (a subcommittee of the County Commissioners’ office), The Barn at Springbrook Farm (serving special needs children), Friends Association (providing emergency shelter and services for families facing homelessness). She and her husband have two adult children and live in West Pikeland.
15-4-01 East Whiteland 3, 4, 5, 6, Tredyffrin M2, M3, M4, M7, W1, W2, W5, E3, E4, E5 (Dem zones 12, 13)
Lauren Holt has dedicated her entire legal career to public interest work. She spent over a decade at the Chester County Public Defender’s Office as a trial attorney, representing indigent defendants during all stages of the criminal process. She litigated complex misdemeanor and felony cases, including drug trafficking and first degree murder. Lauren gained valuable experience working with diverse clients, district attorneys, probation officers, members of law enforcement and Judges at every level the criminal justice system. Prior to joining the Public Defender’s Office, she worked as a Law Clerk to the Honorable Penny L. Blackwell of the York County Court of Common Pleas. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and The Penn State Dickinson School of Law. She currently lives with her husband and their two children in Paoli and previously served as a member of the Tredyffrin Township Libraries Board.
15-4-02 Caln, Downingtown, East Brandywine, East Caln (Dem zones 5, 10)
Ann M. Feldman
Ann has had the privilege and honor of being elected to Downingtown Borough Council for three consecutive terms (2009-present). She has consistently been a vocal advocate for residents and for transparency and lawfulness in local government. Ann cultivated a passion for the law during her nine-year lawsuit to prevent the illegal sale of a public park to developers. That case culminated in a landmark 2017 Pa Supreme Court victory and set a precedent for protecting public park land throughout the state. As an MDJ, Ann will apply the law with impartiality and without bias while ensuring fairness, compassion, and appropriate support for the individual, such as when there are underlying mental health, behavioral, or substance abuse issues. Appropriate steps at this early stage can make a positive difference in a person’s future choices, which then benefits society as a whole.
15-4-04 Avondale, Franklin, London Britain, London Grove, New Garden, West Grove, West Marlborough (Dem zones 3, 8)
Bobby Brown’s family has lived in the West Grove area for over 100 years. For the last 40 years, he has worked for Hewlett Packard (Avondale), Synthes (West Chester), Johnson & Johnson (West Chester), and other manufacturers. He is currently a Manufacturing Supervisor with Bloom Energy, a renewable energy company in Newark DE. Talented team members have enhanced his coaching, mentoring, and leadership skills. As a Pennsylvania State Constable for over 14 years, he saw that many times, people experiencing difficult times need someone to provide guidance and show compassion. He is seeking the position of Magisterial District Justice to champion change and expand diversity. If one person on the bench can influence others to further their education, get involved with their community, and be a part of the solution, this change could help bring a new beginning for many. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We need leaders not in love with money, but in love with justice.”
Bobby Brown’s Facebook