Doyle weighs candidates’ challenges
Attorneys clash over validity of materials submitted by candidate for judge
HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County Judge Elizabeth Doyle is expected to rule by Wednesday on candidate challenges that have surfaced in connection with the spring primary.
In court Monday, attorneys clashed over the validity of the materials submitted by Troy Wright, a candidate for magisterial district judge in southern Blair County.
Wright’s rival candidate, Andrew Blattenberger, represented by Pittsburgh attorney Matthew Logue, told Doyle that Wright should be removed from the ballot for any of three reasons: an incomplete and/or incorrect financial interest statement, a notarization issue with nomination petitions and improper signatures on those petitions.
Attorney Carl Beard disagreed on Wright’s behalf and countered that Wright shouldn’t be removed from the ballot because someone signed his petition and forgot to use a middle initial or signed a nickname.
“Let the Democratic and electoral process continue,” Beard said.
Wright testified Monday that he prepared an updated version of his financial interest statement after challenges surfaced in the court hearing that started Friday.
But Logue took issue with the updated form and asked Wright, who works full time for the Altoona Police Department, about his failure to note self-employment income based on campaign information identifying him as a Food and Drug Administration inspector.
“The instructions require you to disclose self-employment income,” Logue said.
“I thought that would be in block 10, direct income,” Wright answered.
Wright also explained that his form lists American Lung Association as a source of income because that group holds a contract with the FDA to provide inspectors. Wright said he has the training and holds the credentials to work as an inspector for the FDA.
That wasn’t presented on the original document and the updated version has the information in the wrong box, Logue pointed out to the judge.
Logue also challenged Wright’s candidacy by putting notary Cristi Lynne Waltz on the witness stand.
Waltz said she notarized several nomination petitions circulated for Wright, including one that Wright failed to sign.
“That was an error on my part,” Waltz said.
Logue also questioned Waltz about her absence from Friday’s hearing when she was subpoenaed to be in court. Waltz explained that she had fallen that morning and headed to the hospital. She said she spoke with Wright that morning and advised him to let the court know what happened.
Logue said Wright never offered that information on Friday.
“I questioned him under oath about where she was,” Logue said after Monday’s hearing.
“The burden is on them to bring in their witnesses,” Wright said in response.
While the attorneys reviewed and reached agreement on some of the challenged signatures on the petition, the ones they could not agree upon will be up for Doyle to review.
Of 109 names on Wright’s Democratic petition, Beard said he thought about 20 remain contested.
Wright’s Republican petitions included more than 200 names, Beard said. So if 30 to 40 names are struck for various reasons, including the page with his missing signature, he should still have more than the minimum 100, Beard said.
Besides Wright and Blattenberger, Derek Elensky of Claysburg is also seeking the magisterial district judge seat currently held by Craig Ormsby.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.