I've started checking out the ballots for next Tuesday's primary election. You can view a sample at this link--just choose Norristown from the list and click "submit," then choose where you vote. But I warn you, you'll have to zoom in to read it. It's huge this time around.
Today, I'm going to take a look at the Magisterial District Judge Candidates for the new district court opening in Norristown. These candidates ONLY appear on the ballots for all of ward 3 and 2-2. If you're in ward 1 or 2-1, you'll see the incumbent, Fran Lawrence, running unopposed on your ballot (though, remember, you can always write in a candidate if you want. Instructions in the second to last paragraph below). For ward 4 and 2-3, you won't see the office on your ballots at all.
I checked the candidates' websites and Facebook pages, looking specifically for this information: relationship to Norristown, college degrees, experience directly related to law, courts, criminals, etc. Here's what I found.
Valerie Scott Cooper is listed on the Democratic Primary Ballot only.
- Born and raised in Norristown. Graduated from Norristown High School.
- B.A. in Organizational Management.
- MBA with concentration in HR Management.
- Member Norristown Town Watch.
- On her list of positions and volunteer posts (on her Facebook page), I could find no direct law or judge-related experience.
Bernard Murray is listed on both the Republican and Democratic Primary Ballot.
- Has made Norristown his home for the last 23 years.
- No college degrees listed on his website or Facebook page that I could find.
- Received his certification from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania for the position of Magisterial District Judge (I assume this means he took the Board Class and Exam, though he didn't say so).
- Attended the Jurist Academy at Widener University Law School. Jurist Academy is a 2 week, tuition-free law-school prep seminar. (The way it was worded on Murray's website, it sounded as if he'd attended Widener Law School. He didn't as far as I could tell--Just the Jurist Academy.)
- Norristown homeowner and lifelong resident.
- Bachelors degree in Business Communications.
- Masters of Science in Psychology.
- Served on various commissions and committees with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
- Intern in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.
- Clerk with the Magisterial District Judge.
- Took the Minor Judiciary Education Board Class and Examination, and received his certification from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania for the position of Magisterial District Judge.
It should be pointed out that anyone elected to the position MUST take the above mentioned exam before they can serve as district judge. Only two of the candidates seem to have done that so far. Should the third candidate win, she'll have to take the exam and pass before being allowed to serve.
WRITE-IN INSTRUCTIONS: You can, of course, add a write-in of your own by clicking the box next to WRITE-IN and typing the name on the keyboard at the bottom. The person must live within the district and be a voter in good standing. Spell the name correctly or it may not count. (This procedure goes for any office on the ballot.) If you're still not sure how to do it, you can ask the machine operator how.
To meet these and candidates for Municipal Council and NASD School Board, come to the Human Services Building (Dekalb and Fornance) on Thursday from 6-7:30 pm.