May 17, 2017
Janice Crompton / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Three candidates will square off for two seats on the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court in November.
Lawyer Patrick Connelly of Lawrenceville won Republican and Democratic nominations. He was joined on the Republican side by lawyer Mary McGinley of Squirrel Hill and on the Democratic side by appointed Judge David Lee Spurgeon of Mckeesport, who is seeking a full, 10-year term.
Each party was choosing from among six candidates, all of whom have cross-filed. The nominees will face off in the Nov. 7 general election for two open seats on the bench.
Judge Spurgeon, 46, of McKeesport, was appointed to fill a temporary vacancy on the bench last year and served for 18 years as a prosecutor with the county district attorney’s office. He was the first prosecutor in the county to pursue violators of Protection From Abuse orders. He finished a distant on the Republican side.
Mr. Connelly 49, of Lawrenceville, has his own practice and has served as a trial lawyer for 23 years, primarily in civil litigation. He is a certified mediator, and was appointed by the federal judiciary as a mediator, arbitrator and neutral evaluator.
Mr. Connelly was chairman of the City of Pittsburgh’s Ethics Hearing Board, and currently serves as a hearing officer for the Allegheny Retirement Board.
Ms. McGinley, 39, of Squirrel Hill, is a partner at Meyer Unkovic and Scott LLP specializing in representing families and individuals in estate litigation matters, and companies in contractual and other commercial disputes.
Ms. McGinley comes from a well-known family in legal circles. Her father, John “Jack” McGinley has been a lawyer for nearly 40 years and her uncle, Judge Bernard L. McGinley, has served on the state Commonwealth Court for 30 years.
There are currently 41 judges in the county court split into four divisions: civil, criminal, family and orphan’s.
The salary for a new judge is $180,000, and the term is 10 years, after which judges face retention elections.
Other candidates in the race included Jessica Lynch, 50, of Aspinwall; Pauline M. Calabrese, 54, of Penn Hills; and Rosemary Crawford, 53, of Hampton.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s re-election bid has cleared another hurdle, having secured the endorsement of the Allegheny County Labor Council late last week.
In a statement, Mr. Peduto hailed the result as “a testament to the hard work that we have done for working families over the past few years.”
The council, which includes representatives from the area’s major unions, interviewed candidates Friday. Candidates must earn a two-thirds majority to secure labor’s backing.
Candidates in some other competitive races were unable to clear that bar.
In City Council District 4, the Labor Council made no endorsement in a heated primary between Anthony Coghill and Ashleigh Deemer. The same was true in Allegheny County Council District 12, where Jim Ellenbogen faces a challenge from Robert Palmosina.
Getting the endorsement is “difficult especially in a contested race, where the candidates may all have supporters in the room,” said Labor Council executive vice-president Darrin Kelly.
Mr. Peduto’s rivals, City Councilwoman Darlene Harris and Homewood minister John Welch, downplayed his win.
On Monday, Mrs. Harris attributed the outcome to Mr. Peduto’s fundraising advantages. But she said, “I’m very confident where the union votes will go” on the May 16 primary.
At a Saturday campaign event, Rev. Welch said, “We operate in a spirit of fear in this city. They’re afraid not to [back] the incumbent.”
Labor leaders also backed incumbent Sheriff Bill Mullen over challenger George Satler, while endorsing Patrick Connelly and David Spurgeon for Common Pleas Court.
Mr. Peduto has been consolidating support from traditional Democratic power bases. The Allegheny County Democratic Committee endorsed him earlier this month. Neither it nor the labor council backed his 2013 election (he did not seek the party endorsement in 2013).
The council also recommended statewide judicial candidates for endorsement by the state’s AFL-CIO.
For state Supreme Court, it backed the lone Democrat, Allegheny Common Pleas Judge Dwayne Woodruff. For the four seats on Superior Court, it supported Allegheny County attorney Bill Caye, Beaver County Common Pleas Judge Debbie Kunselman, Philadelphia County Common Pleas Judge Maria McLaughlin, and Geoff Moulton, who is serving on the court in an interim capacity.
For Commonwealth Court, local labor leaders recommended Philadelphia County Common Pleas Judge Ellen Ceisler and currently serving Judge Joe Cosgrove.
Chris Potter: email@example.com.
Dems endorse incumbents …Peduto faces two challengers
Though he beat city Councilwoman Darlene Harris by more than 100 votes in the race to win the Allegheny County Democratic endorsement, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto will still face her in the May 16 Primary Election—but not alone.
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Dean of Students Rev. John Welch is remaining in the race despite not seeking the endorsement.
“It’s time for someone new who isn’t tied to the political machinery,” said Welch.
Harris, who has served as District 1 Councilwoman since Luke Ravenstahl was appointed mayor in 2006, took an early shot at Peduto’s frequent travel saying she’ll be a “full-time” mayor.
“I won’t be flying around all over the place,” she said.
The County Democratic Committee also endorsed Sheriff Bill Mullen who faces a primary challenge from retired city police Det. George Satler. It also endorsed three incumbent—and unopposed—city council members: Dan Gilman, Danny Lavelle and Theresa Kail-Smith.
In the contested race for retiring Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak’s District 4 seat, the committee endorsed Anthony Coghill. He will face off against Mark Johnson, Gary McBurney and Ashleigh Deemer, Rudiak’s chief of staff. Cletus Cibrone-Abate is the lone Republican seeking the seat.
As with city council, the committee endorsed incumbents Sylvia Wilson, Terry Kennedy and Carolyn Klug, as well as former city Councilman Sala Udin, who is seeking the seat being vacated by Thomas Sumpter.
To fill the two vacancies on Common Pleas Court, the committee gave the nod to attorneys Patrick Connelly and David Spurgeon.
To vote in the Primary you must register with either the Republican or Democratic Party. The last day to register is April 17. Absentee ballots will be mailed beginning May 2 and must be returned May 12.
Connelly for Judge
For Immediate Release
Contact Marty Marks 412.352.0317
PITTSBURGH ATTORNEY PATRICK CONNELLY BECOMES FIRST DEMOCRAT TO OFFICIALLY SEEK PARTY NOMINATION FOR 2017 COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OPENINGS
“Highly Recommended” attorney tells Democrats he is running to make a difference
Pittsburgh (January 10, 2017) – Pittsburgh attorney Patrick Connelly last week became the first Democrat to file paperwork seeking the Allegheny County Democratic Committee’s endorsement for one of the two open seats for Common Pleas Judge in the May 16, 2017 Primary Election.
Connelly, who is rated “highly recommended” for judge by the Allegheny County Bar Association, has focused his practice on civil law throughout western and central Pennsylvania for more than 20 years. He narrowly missed winning the Democratic endorsement in 2015 for one of three Common Pleas openings in the last cycle. Opting not to run in 2015, Connelly supported the endorsed Democratic candidates and has used the intervening time to prepare for an all-out effort to win the Democratic nomination in 2017.
In a letter sent to Democratic Committee members today, Connelly said, “I enter this race, not because I think it is my turn or that I am owed something, but rather, because I believe I can make a difference. Most of the progress we have made on issues important to Democrats in recent history hasn’t been the result of legislative process but due to actions taken by judges in courts at every level.”
Connelly, formerly a partner with Summers, McDonnell, Hudock & Guthrie, has been working as a sole practitioner since 2016, expanding his practice to include civil, family and criminal law. He is active in civic, community and Irish fraternal organizations and has served on Pittsburgh’s Ethics Hearings Board and as solicitor for the annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Committee for the past decade.
Connelly resides in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood with his wife, Lauren Byrne Connelly.