Candidates for judge focus on experience

LEWISTOWN – Two candidates for common pleas judge fielded questions Tuesday night during the Measure the Candidates event, sponsored by the Mifflin County Farm Bureau and held at the high school.

Both candidates were given the opportunity to introduce themselves before answering questions submitted by the audience.

Assistant District Attorney Dave Barron, the Republican nominee, said he has 20 years of experience in the court system and sees a need for change.

President Judge Timothy S. Searer, who secured the Democratic nomination in the primary, said this is an important election and he is the best candidate based on his experience and proven track record as a judge.

If elected judge, Barron said he would like to see magisterial district judges handle certain misdemeanor cases.

Searer said the idea to have MDJs adjudicate these types of cases has been explored in the past and will continue to be explored in the future.

The candidates also were asked about their positions on abortion.

Both candidates said the judicial code prevents them from publicly commenting on certain issues, this being one of them.

They were also asked if they felt Mifflin County needed two judges.

Searer said yes, given the case load and the most recent statistical data.

Barron said senior judges, such as retired common pleas judge Rick Williams, as well as visiting judges could fill in when needed.

Barron responded to a question about what experience he has by restating his 20 years of experience in all kinds of different legal matters.

Searer responded to the same question by listing his time as a district attorney and his 20 years on the bench, along with his ability to manage 48 employees throughout the county.

The candidates were somewhat divided on the question of term limits.

Searer said there are already term limits in place for judges because they are required to retire at age 70.

Barron said if elected he would only serve one 10-year term as judge.

Finally, the candidates were asked what motivates them to run for office.

Searer said he enjoys what he does and believes he has served the county well over the years and would like to continue to do so.

Barron cited his late father and his family as the primary reasons he wants to run.

Barron said it was the next logical step for him and he can bring a new temperament and personality to the job.

In his closing remarks, Searer touted his experience, demonstrated ability and legal knowledge as reasons voters should return him to the bench for another term. He also cited cost effective and innovative programs and procedures that were implemented on his watch.

Searer said he would continue to be fair, independent and impartial, without over-burdening the hard working taxpayers.

Searer closed out his comments by stating how important and essential it is that the president judge position be filled by someone who has been “tested and whose record is proven.”

Barron said experience does matter, and he has the necessary experience to be a president judge. He said integrity matters, and following moral and ethical principles is important.

Barron said he has a strong work ethic and he is the candidate of change.