I was dressed up to go to court with my mommy. I usually waited outside on a hard wooden bench. Today was different. Mommy took me into a big room with a big desk, where a man in a black asked me who I liked better, my mommy or my daddy?. Without hesitation, I said, “My daddy.” The man asked me why. “Because he buys me dolls and gives me candy.”
Custody cases are presided over by the 13 judges on the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas, 11 of whom are Republicans and 11, men, some with little to no background in family law, making decisions that can have significant, life-long ramifications.
With a three-month backlog in family court, we as citizens must show up and vote for judges with the knowledge, experience, and compassion to make wise choices for our families and, most especially, our children in need of legal care and protection. Here’s what you need to know to make your own informed decisions on these vital issues:
What’s at Stake for the Court of Common Pleas?
- Two new seats on the Judiciary, plus one resignation. In hopes of addressing our overburdened court system, in 2017, the legislature created two new openings in Bucks County plus a slot made available by one Republican woman’s resignation.
- Significant backlog of family and criminal cases. The Bucks County Court of Common Pleas hears Civil Cases. As examples: based on the latest comprehensive data from 2017, of the 1,896 cases involving child custody/partial custody/visitation, only 727 or 42.1% were handled by a judge; of the 416 cases of child abuse or neglect, a total of 262 were adjudicated, with 57 still pending at year end.
- Judges serve for ten years. These lengthy terms give the Court stability and allow judges to fully develop. But, it also represents a significant commitment to a set of values that may or may not reflect our communities. It’s vital that we show up and vote for those judges who best uphold the values we embrace.
Who’s Running? From the Bucks County Unofficial Candidate List, several of the candidates for open seats are listed here with links to their pages.
- Court of Common Pleas – For the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas, several candidates are running, three of whom have received Democratic Party endorsements:
Charissa Liller Allen Toadvine
Diane McGee Gary Gambardella
Who else? In addition to the open seats on the Court of Common Pleas, the following races include:
- Bucks County Commissioner – four year terms
Diane Ellis-Marseglia Gene DiGirolamo
- Bucks County Treasurer – four year term
- Bucks County Coroner – four year term
Meredith Buck Joseph P. Campbell
2019 Key Election Dates for Pennsylvania
- April 22 — Last day to REGISTER before the primary
- May 14 — Last day to apply for a civilian absentee ballot.
- May 17 — Last day for County Board of Elections to receive civilian absentee ballots
- May 21 — MUNICIPAL PRIMARY
- Nov. 5 — MUNICIPAL ELECTION
For more information, additional resources, and ways to get involved:*
- Bucks County Blue: Great source for info on all races and candidates in Bucks, including upcoming events and voter registration.
- Solebury Democrats: Lively, up-to-date site, with excellent content.
- Indivisible: Provides a wealth of information and ready-made materials, ranging from Elections 101, Voting Rights, and Voting Suppression, Voter Registration, Endorsement Guides, and more.
- SwingLeft: Nationwide organization dedicated to flipping Congressional districts like ours.
- Flippable: Mounting a Blue Wave Tsunami across the states.
Special thanks to Charissa Liller and her team for their time.