By Alexandra Fabian, PICPA manager of government relations
Every two years, Pennsylvania voters elect judges at every level of the court system, from municipal courts to the state Supreme Court. Such is the case in this odd-numbered year, when judges and magisterial district judges are the primary focus of the Nov. 2 general election. These elections are typically referred to as “municipal elections” because there are no federal or state offices on the ballot. (For municipal election results please visit www.electionreturns.pa.gov.)
It’s no secret that municipal election years tend to lack the luster of general election years, resulting in low voter turnout. But don’t fall into that sense of complacency. The decisions made during these elections will have resounding public policy impacts for years to come. Judges carry a hefty load of responsibilities that can affect the CPA profession and your community, such as ensuring that laws are followed fairly, setting legal precedents, and maintaining equal justice under the law.
Preparing to vote in judicial elections can be overwhelming, particularly in sorting out what each court does, what the endorsements mean, and the sheer number of names that appear on the ballot. The good news is PICPA’s government relations team is here to help. The PICPA team and members of Certified Public Accountant Political Action Committee (CPA-PAC), the political arm of the PICPA, interviewed Pennsylvania judicial candidates up for election in November. A series of well-thought-out, unbiased questions provides you with a high-level overview of the candidates competing for a seat on the bench.
Meet the Candidates
The state Supreme Court is the highest court in Pennsylvania and the oldest appellate court in the nation. Seven justices serve on the court, and their job is to make final judgment in interpreting Pennsylvania’s laws and constitution. One seat is open because Chief Justice Thomas Saylor, a Republican, has hit the court’s mandatory retirement age of 75. The candidates are:
Pennsylvania is one of only a handful of states that has two separate intermediate-level appeals courts: Commonwealth Court and Superior Court. The nine-judge Commonwealth Court decides civil disputes involving the state itself and hears appeals against decisions made by state agencies, including the Department of Revenue. Four candidates are seeking two Commonwealth Court openings.
Superior Court has one vacancy this year due to Republican Judge Susan Gantman retiring. The intermediate appeals court handles civil and criminal cases from counties, and it is said to be among the nation’s busiest state appeals courts.
Important election details, such as how to register to vote, where to locate your polling location, and much more, are available on the Department of State website.
For more insight on the candidates, check out the 2021 PA Judicial Voter Guide from the Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform, of which the PICPA is a member.
Judicial elections are very important in Pennsylvania, particularly those for the state Supreme and Commonwealth courts. Both courts rule on issues impacting individuals, business taxpayers, and tax policy.
We encourage you to educate yourself on the candidates so you can make an informed decision about who to cast your vote for on Nov. 2. Your vote matters!
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