To the editor:
I have been a resident of, and a practicing attorney in, Jefferson County for the past 37 years. For the past eight years, I have shared office space with judicial candidate Craig Allen. On May 6, you, the voters of Jefferson County, have a very important decision to make in electing the next common pleas court judge.
The position of common pleas court judge is an important position that affects all facets of the community, handling criminal and civil caseloads, divorces, dissolutions, child custody, personal injuries and property rights. A common pleas judge must be astute, perceptive, compassionate, fair, honorable and possess community awareness.
Jefferson County has always been extremely fortunate in electing common pleas judges, past and present, who possessed these attributes. This has resulted in the election of individuals who were and are extremely qualified and possessed great integrity.
Past judges such as the honorable Dominick Olivito and John J. Mascio were longtime, or lifelong, residents of Jefferson County who were deeply involved for many years in community affairs. Prior to being elected, they served in positions such as law director, solicitors for townships, prosecuting attorney and county court judgeships. Their lives were dedicated to public service.
Two present judges - the honorable Samuel W. Kerr and Joseph J. Bruzzese Jr. -had extensive civil practices and had been county court judges before becoming common pleas court judges. The honorable David E. Henderson was an assistant prosecutor and assistant law director before being elected common pleas court judge.
All three judicial candidates on the current ballot are Jefferson County residents, however, only one, Craig Allen, has lived in, and practiced law in, Jefferson County for the past 22 years. Candidate Michelle Garcia-Miller, a former nurse, was commended by her former associate Bruce Clark in his letter of April 20 for her service as a Girl Scout leader and Bible school instructor ("Miller rooted in our area.") Candidate Lydia Spragin is not only a lawyer, but also a pharmacist and ordained minister. While these are all commendable qualities and accomplishments, they are not qualifications for being a common pleas court judge. Candidate Miller has stated in her television commercials that she is the only candidate with experience "behind the bench." While her employment as a domestic relations magistrate for the past 10 months in commendable, it is not the equivalent to being a common pleas court judge.
The only candidate who possesses the same qualifications as our past and current judges is Craig Allen. Allen has served as law director for the city of Toronto, as village solicitor for towns and townships in Jefferson County and as an assistant prosecuting attorney for more than 10 years under two prior county prosecutors. Allen has extensive trial and courtroom experience in the prosecution and defense of criminal matters as well as civil and domestic litigation.
On May 6, your vote should be cast for Craig Allen, as he has stood the test of time in Jefferson County.
David A. Vukelic