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Local voters vary on knowledge of state judges

November 7, 2007
By Jessica VanderKolk,
Bundled in hats, gloves and winter coats as a few snowflakes fell Tuesday afternoon, voters varied on how much information they collected on judges running for retention.

Pennsylvanians voted whether to retain seven statewide judges seeking additional terms, as well as judges in each county.

Some state activist groups urged voters to say “no” to all judges running for retention who did not return the 2005 pay raise, which motivated voters to oust some legislators in last year’s election.

Kathy Forr did research on some of the judges before casting her vote at the Geeseytown Community Fire Company.

“A few I didn’t vote on because I wasn’t familiar with them,” she said. “The pay raise was in my mind with some of the judges.”

Forr used the Internet and looked through newspaper articles to gather information.

“Just listening to their commercials is not the way to go,” she said.

When it came time to vote on Blair County Judge Jolene Kopriva, listed last on the ballot, Forr said, “it wasn’t a question.”

“I love the drug court she’s put in,” Forr said.

Some voters were confused by the large list of statewide judges, followed by the one local judge. Forr said she wondered where Kopriva’s name was as she worked through the ballot.

“One lady said because of the way [the ballot] was, it would be the last time she votes,” incumbent Frankstown Township supervisor James Grove said.

He said many elderly voters also still were confused about how to use the electronic voting machines.

Eric Feagley said he didn’t hear the ads urging voters not to retain judges this year.

He didn’t do much research before voting at DuBois Business College in Huntingdon.

“I’m pretty much Republican, so I vote straight ticket,” he said.

Shauna Hess, who ran for Huntingdon County commissioner in the spring and lost, handed out literature about candidate R. Dean Fluke at the Oneida Township Municipal Building.

She said people either seemed to know nothing about the judges or had heard the advertisements.

“I haven’t really heard anything except people are frustrated because they don’t know anything about them,” she said. “They want to know how they can find out.”

Steve Harbaugh said he respects the judges and however they want to do things.

“They’re the ones that rule [on] the laws and know what’s going on,” he said after voting in Oneida Township.

Mirror Staff Writer Jessica VanderKolk is at 946-7465.

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