Monday, November 2, 2015

County Courthouse Candidates

Here are some of the rest of the candidates for races in tomorrow's election. In my opinion, some of these shouldn't be elected offices, they should be hired instead--the clerical ones, for instance. They shouldn't have anything to do with party politics. If we have individuals in those posts doing them well, their jobs shouldn't be endangered every few years simply because, as behind-the-scenes workers, voters don't know their names. But our state has an archaic system. So I've at least tried to explain the offices and indicate if one of the candidates is an incumbent and what qualifications, if any, the opponent has.

Clerk of Courts -- This person is the chief clerk of criminal cases. Her office maintains the records of all cases and collects court costs, restitution, bail money, etc.

Ann Thornburg Weiss is the incumbent Clerk of Courts, serving 2 terms so far. She's streamlined the system and collected more than a million dollars in old fees from as far back as 1986.

Jason Showmaker is currently Rockledge Borough Council President and a banking analyst

Controller is the office that oversees all fiscal affairs of the county, including payroll, accounts payable, retirement, and audits. Neither candidate is the incumbent, and neither seems to have any hands-on accounting experience. I think I'm probably more qualified for this office than either of these two.

Karen Geld Sanchez is a business lawyer with an MBA.

Tom Zipfel is an attorney and current President of the Board of Commissioners of Hatfield Township.

Coroner -- This is the office in charge of determining cause of death in cases where the death is unexpected, especially if it's violent, or suspected suicide or homicide, certain hospital deaths, anytime the cause is a mystery, or if the next of kin requests an autopsy. In Pennsylvania, the only requirements for the office of coroner is that you have to be a voter and breathing. It's a shame, really, because forensic science has come so far in the last 50 years, that you'd think the richest county in America would have state-of-the-art requirements for the office. I had the pleasure of meeting our current coroner, Walter Hoffman, last month. Most residents never knew it, but Dr.Hoffman did us proud. He's a board-certified Forensic Pathologist, the only one serving as coroner in the state. He's also consulted as a forensic pathologist for the states of New Jersey and Florida. He's performed over 10,000 autopsies and examined twice as many bodies. He's an amazing man. But he's retiring. Fortunately, both candidates running for Coroner are, at least, doctors, though neither seem to have any pathology experience at all, let alone forensics. I'd hope that, whichever one wins, he'll seek training in the area. Also fortunately, the Coroner's current staff includes, I think, 2 certified forensic pathologists and other experienced personnel.

Michael Millbourne is a Cardiovascular Disease specialist at Chestnut Hill Hospital. Bio at this link.

Phil Mandato is a board-certified anesthesiologist at Grandview hospital. His resume is at this link. Insists on being called "Dr. Phil."

District Attorney
-- This is the office that investigates and prosecutes all criminal activity in the county. Neither is the incumbent but both are qualified.

Kevin Steele is the current First Assistant District Attorney for the county (2nd in command to the DA). He's been with the Montco DA's Office since 1995.

Bruce Castor served as District Attorney in the county from 2000-08. He's currently a Montgomery County Commissioner.

Prothonotary -- Chances are, unless you've had to change your name or gotten a divorce or gone to the courthouse for a passport, you have no idea what a prothonotary does. He's essentially the clerk in charge of civil courts and procedures. He needs to have a love of paperwork.

Mark Levy is the current county Prothonotary and had served since 2007. He's been instrumental in the shift from paper to electronic court records.

Bill Whiteside is currently serving on Horsham Township Council. He's a former special administrator in the Prothonotary's office.

Recorder of Deeds maintains all the county's land ownership records and the monthly accounting of real estate transfers taxes and county/state fees. They currently operate at a profit and so are self-sustaining and don't use other taxpayer dollars.

Jeanne Sorg - Currently the Mayor of Ambler. Couldn't find out much more.

Nancy Becker is the incumbent. She's served as Recorder of Deeds for 3 terms. I personally had dealings with her while settling my dad's estate and I thought she was gracious, professional and efficient.

Sheriff -- This department is the law enforcement arm of the county court system. Basically, the Sheriff is responsible to see that judges' orders are carried out. His office serves supeonas and bench warrants, they go after people who don't show up for hearings or fail to pay family support or other court-administered debts. They escort prisoners to and from the Courthouse. They run Sheriff's Auctions for failure to pay property taxes.

Russell Bono is our current Sheriff. He has served as Norristown Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety. He has a long resume in law enforcement that you can read at his website. He lives in East Norriton.

Sean Kilkenny is a lawyer who served as Norristown borough solicitor (meaning he advised Council and the department heads of the legality of proposed actions). He's currently President of Jenkintown's borough council. He's the son of a police officer and a veteran of the US Army Judge Advocate General's Corps. His website is at this link.

County Treasurer -- The custodian of county funds. Different from the Controller in that he handles investments, etc.

Jason Salus is the current Treasurer for the county and has served in that post since 2011. He has a degree in finance and an MBA. See for his accomplishments while in office.

Chuck Wilson is a CPA with 20 years experience doing corporate accounting and finances. He's currently chairman of the Towamencin Board of Supervisors.

So that's it. Get out and vote so the good people can keep their jobs and the unqualified ones don't get in. If you vote at Eisenhower School, I'll be working at the 3-3 table. Stop by and say hello.

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