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Voters’ eyes and ears are focused on what lies in the pipeline for the 2014 elections, where voters will decide on state senators and representatives, a new governor and congressmen to represent the Commonwealth.
But what about the election just a few weeks away?
On the Nov. 5 ballot, voters will have the option to decide on officials to sit on school boards, town councils and other local municipal offices.
However, one race sits at the top of the ballot, and chances are that voters aren’t incredibly invested in the race due to a lack of knowledge and campaigning.
The race is between Jack McVay and Vic Stabile for Superior Court Judge – the only statewide race in 2013.
The Superior Court of Pennsylvania is an appellate court for the state of Pennsylvania. It joins the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania as one of the two intermediate appellate courts in the state.
The Superior Court is the appellate court for general jurisdiction, whereas the Commonwealth Court focuses primarily on decisions of state agencies and cases that involve the state as a party.
Cases heard in the Superior Court come from the Court of Common Pleas, in most cases. The court is located in Harrisburg but hears cases in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.
Judges in the Superior Court are elected to a 10-year term and may only hold their seats if they win a retention vote – another option that appears on the ballot for voters, although in a different form. The court consists of 15 judges that hail from either political party.
In the 2013 race, Jack McVay Jr. is running on the Democratic ticket.
Currently, McVay is a judge on the Pittsburgh-based Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, where he hears cases on familial matters. McVay is also a licensed and practicing pharmacist.
His opponent, Vic Stabile is running on the Republican ticket. Stabile was the deputy attorney general and an appellate judicial clerk. He earned the nomination over the winter of 2011 at the Republican Party’s winter meeting. Currently, Stabile is an attorney from Carlisle.
Over the past two weeks, the Stabile and McVay campaign machines have been revving up.
McVay’s camp released a positive campaign ad reflecting his experience in Pittsburgh and judicial record with the Court of Common Pleas.
“Judge Jack McVay has done a lot of things in life he really likes,” the narrator said at the beginning of the ad.
The ad involves a summary of McVay’s involvement in Pittsburgh athletics, from his college days to when he recently threw out the first pitch at a Pittsburgh Pirates game.
“The commercial is intended to drive home two points,” Marty Marks, McVay’s campaign manager, said.
“First that Judge McVay stands out because of his experience of serving as a trial judge at the Common Pleas level, and second, he is deeply rooted in western Pennsylvania culture and values.”
In response, the Stabile camp went negative, criticizing McVay for using his position in the Allegheny Court of Common Pleas to get jobs for his sister-in-law and his girlfriend.
“After he became a judge, he got his girlfriend a job,” the narrator for Stabile’s ad said. “Then his sister-in-law got a job. And now Jack McVay wants you to give him a promotion.”
Marks defended the attack on his candidate, saying that McVay’s sister brought experience with professional child welfare to the job. Marks also said that the hiring of McVay’s fiancée was done by another judge and complied with the rules of the court.
The 2013 run will be McVay’s first attempt at running for a seat on the court. In 2011, Stabile faced David Wecht, who, like McVay, is from Pittsburgh, and lost.
Although Stabile out-fundraised McVay, according to the most recent financial filings with the Federal Election Commission, McVay is expected to have a chance to beat his Republican opponent due to his strong support in Democratic areas like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.