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Voter Registration Deadline Approaches, Judicial Races Dominate Ballot

Sarah Schneider
90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania voters have one week left to register to vote in the Nov. 3 election, and for the first time, they’ll be able to register online

Secretary of State Pedro Cortes said Monday that people who do not have a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation driver's license or PennDOT identification card should apply before the Oct. 5 deadline if they use the new electronic system. Residents also can still register by mail or in-person at many state and county offices.

Most Pittsburgh and Allegheny County races were decided during the May primary.

In the county, Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Controller Chelsa Wagner and Treasurer John Weinstein are all running unopposed for re-election.

City Council representatives Darlene Harris, Bruce Kraus, Corey O’Connor, Deborah Gross and Ricky Burgess are also running unopposed, as is Controller Michael Lamb.

Voters will likely make the biggest impact in the race for an unprecedented three open seats on the state Supreme Court.

Democrats David Wecht, Kevin Dougherty and Christine Donohue, Republicans Judith Olsen, Michael George and Anne Covey and Independent Paul P. Panepinto are all vying for a seat on the state’s highest court. With two Democrats and two Republicans remaining on the bench, the outcome of the election could shift the partisan makeup of the court, which is currently dominated by conservatives.

Democrat Alice Dubow faces Republican Emil Giordano for one open seat on the Superior Court, which hears the bulk of appeals from county Courts of Common Pleas.

Appeals in trials involving state and local government and regulatory agencies go through the Commonwealth Court, which also has one open seat. Democrat Michael Wojcik is facing Republican Paul Lalley in that race.

In Allegheny County, four people are vying for three open seats on the Court of Common Pleas, which hears most major criminal and civil cases. Democrat Hugh McGough and Republican PJ Murray are facing off against Jennifer Staley McCrady and Dan Regan. McCrady and Regan ran in both the Republican and Democratic primaries, nabbing one of the top three spots in both.

Twenty different magisterial districts will hold elections for new judges, but only two of them offer voters a choice this fall. Magisterial district judges are the first judges most people encounter when they become involved in the legal system. Those in the Brackenridge area can choose either Democrat Anthony L. DeLuca or Republican John Petrucci. Voters in Gibsonia can vote for either Democrat Tom Swam or Republican Doug Austin.

Four City of Pittsburgh School Director seats are on the November ballot, but only one will have two candidates. Kevin L. Carter is facing Republican Rosemary Moriarty to represent region 8, which includes parts of the North Side, Downtown and South Side. Moriarty nabbed the Republican nomination, but also ran as a Democrat in the primary to increase her chances of appearing on the general election ballot.  

Moriarty is a retired teacher and administrator with Pittsburgh Public Schools, while Carter is the chief executive officer for Adonai Center for Black Males.

Lynda Wrenn and Moira B. Kaleda are running unopposed for the region 4 and region 6 seats, respectively. Wrenn has a masters in teaching from Chatham University, has most recently worked in marketing and has served on the district’s Summer Dreamers Academy and the gifted education task forces. Kaleda is a lifelong Pittsburgher with a degree in secondary education and serves as a mentor for new mothers with NurturePA.

Allegheny County Council will also see a handful of new faces next year. Republican Cindy Kirk and Democrats Paul Klein, DeWitt Walton and Denise Ranalli-Russell are all running unopposed for districts 2, 10, 11 and 13, respectively. Kirk is a nurse and Republican state committeewoman. Klein is a professor of law and ethics at Duquesne University. Walton works for United Steelworkers. Ranalli-Russell is a small business owner and former Democratic state committeewoman.

Liz Reid began working at WESA in 2013 as a general assignment reporter and weekend host. Since then, she’s worked as the Morning Edition producer, health & science reporter and as an editor.