Blog Archives

2011 Voter Guide

My blogs on the various midterm races seem to have gotten a bit spread out, so I’ll attempt to consolidate a bit. Follow the links to each of the blogs.

Also, if you’re not sure of your polling place or your district (and the officials that currently represent you), take a trip over to the Online Citizen’s Guide at the Committee of Seventy’s website. It is incredibly easy and quick. If you would like to see which candidates will be on the ballot in your area (and a basic profile on these candidates), visit SmartVoter and search by your address.

Want to know why you should vote at all this election? Read this.

Most of my focus has been on Lower Merion/Montgomery County races. For more information on Philadelphia/New Jersey races, visit SmartVoter or your local newspaper’s website.

Local news source voter guides include (with endorsements):

Other news sources do not have specific voter guides, but contain a lot of good information on the candidates and the election. Peruse your local newspaper’s website, if it is not listed here.


Think Off-Year Elections are Unimportant? Think Again.

(Also blogged on the Narberth-Bala Cynwyd Patch)

For a state that considers itself the birthplace of the United States, Pennsylvania’s attitude towards democracy is decidedly blasé. Pennsylvanians just do not like to vote. Or, more precisely, they just do not like to vote in elections where they have a greatest chance of affecting the outcome.

A solitary vote matters incredibly little in presidential elections, both because millions of other people are casting their ballots simultaneously and because the Electoral College ultimately decides the outcome. Yet these are the elections that have the highest voter turnout numbers.

In contrast, state and local elections – which have a much smaller voting base and, arguably, a much larger impact on a citizen’s everyday life – are determined by a small minority of voters.

Consider this: in 2009, only 21 percent of registered Pennsylvanians cast their ballots. The majority of those select few chose Republican candidate Joan Orie Melvin as the next justice of the PA Supreme Court, solidifying a 4-3 Republican majority on the bench.

This year, as in the past, the Supreme Court was called upon to choose the tie-breaking member of the commission that redraws the legislative districts in the state every decade. The resulting map was a patchwork of gerrymandering and political protection submitted on a party-line vote in the Republicans’ favor. By carefully designating which group of voters elects which representative, this map will likely dictate the outcome of Pennsylvania’s elections for years.

So if you’re thinking about skipping the polls this Tuesday, reconsider. Off-year elections are neither trivial nor meaningless. To the contrary, they have far-reaching consequences that will directly affect your life and your community for years to come.


Thornburg Weiss vs. Ahn for Montco Clerk of Courts 2011

This November, Moon Ahn will challenge incumbent Ann Thornburg Weiss for Montgomery County Clerk of Courts. Overviews of the candidates’ education,  credentials and priorities are below.

What does the Clerk of Courts do? Check of this description, from Patch.comv:

 The role of the clerk is to manage custody of all original court case records. This position also has to collect bail money in criminal cases and return it to the “surety” (for example, a bail bondsman) upon completion of court action.

The Clerk of Courts maintains records relating to the division of election districts as well as the appointment of election officials, constables and private detectives, according to the department’s website.

For the Montgomery County Clerk of Courts’ website, click here.

Note: Sources for the information are in parentheses. Where no source is indicated, the information was pulled from the candidates’ own website.

For Thornburg Weiss’ campaign site, click here.
For Ahn’s campaign site, click here.

- Ann Thornburg Weiss

  • 1977 Gettysburg College Graduate (magna cum laude)
  • 1980 Temple University Graduate
  • Served as law clerk to a PA Superior Court judge
  • Partner, Timoney Knox, LLP
  • Township Commissioner, Upper Dublin (2002-2007)

    • Chair, Commissioners Planning Committee
    • Chair, Public Activities, Lands and Contracts Committee
    • Commissioner representative to the Fire Services Strategic Planning Committee and the Township—School District Planning Committee”
  • Board of Directors, Community Ambulance Association of Ambler
  • Coordinator, Upper Dublin Lutheran Church’s Interfaith Hospitality Network
  • Council President, Upper Dublin Lutheran Church’s Congregational Council
  • “Implemented RFID technology for file tracking, eliminating hours of time spent searching for files”
  • “Made the internal information processing paperless”
  • “Streamlined the ARD process by allowing program participants to pay in advance”
  • “Worked with the Administrative Office of the PA Courts to reduce the cost for on-line payments”
  • Made online services more user-friendly
  • No new hires are permitted to serve as committee people for either political party”
  • Will not accept political contributions greater than $250 in the aggregate from vendors doing business with her office”

- Moon Ahn

  • 1985 University of California at Berkeley Graduate, BA in Political Science
  • 1987 Michigan State University Graduate, Masters in Political Science
  • 1993 The University of Akron School of Law Grade, JD
  • Private attorney
  • Board Member, Ramsey Educational Development Institute (REDI)
  • Conduct “a ground-up review of all expenditures and procedures” to increase efficiency
  • “Focus on improving the County’s bail-collection system”
  • Vice Chair, Montgomery County Bar Association’s Diversity Committee
  • Assistant District Attorney, Montgomery County


Hofman vs. Clement for Montco Coroner 2011

This November, Dr. Gordon Clement will challenge incumbent Dr. Walter Hofman for Montgomery County Coroner. Overviews of the candidates’ education,  credentials and priorities are below.

What does the Coroner do? Check out this description from the Montgomery County Coroner’s website:

The Coroner is charged by law with many responsibilities, the foremost of which is the investigation and certification of a variety of deaths including all deaths of other than natural causes, and any apparently natural deaths in which no physician can reasonably state the cause. The Coroner can utilize any and all medico­legal investigative techniques, including an autopsy, to establish both the medical cause of death, and mode or manner of death (natural, accident, homicide, suicide, or undetermined).

Note: Sources for the information are in parentheses. Where no source is indicated, the information was pulled from the candidates’ own website.

For Hofman’s campaign site, click here.
For Clement’s campaign site, click here.

- Walter Hofman

  • “Board certified in Anatomic, Clinical and Forensic Pathology”
  • “Pathology internship and residency at the Boston University and Harvard Medical School hospitals”
  • “Fellowship in Forensic Pathology at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Baltimore”
  • “Practiced pathology at Roxborough Memorial Hospital for over 20 years”
  • Medical Staff President, Roborough Memorial Hospital
  • Chairman of Laboratory Medicine, Roxborough Hospital
  • “Full clinical professor of pathology at Temple University Medical School”
  • “Associate clinical professor of pathology at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School”
  • Member, Departments of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP)
  • Lieutenant Colonel, US Air Force Reserve
  • Chairperson, Montgomery County Medical Legal Committee
  • “Personally performed over 10,000 (ten thousand) autopsies, examined over 16000 (sixteen thousand) bodies and issued more than  17,000 (seventeen thousand) death certificates. “
  • “Reviewer for the peer reviewed monthly publication ‘Military Medicine’”
  • “Upgrade the existing computerized record system in order to track cases more efficiently, share information with other agencies, and provide information to the public.” (PhillyBurbs)

- Gordon Clement

  • University of Pennsylvania Graduate, BS
  • Hahnemann Medical School Graduate, MD
  • US Navy Officer’s Candidate School
  • Residency/Instructor in Surgery, University of Pennsylvania
  • Navy Captain (retired)
    • Military surgeon
  • Co-Founder/Medical Director, Montgomery County Emergency Medical Services
  • Faculty, Thomas Jefferson University
  • Medical Coordinator, Emergency Medical Technicians’ Training Course (Montgomery County)
  • Lecturer at Sacred Heart Hospital
  • Director, Center for Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine, Mercy Suburban HospitalMercy
  • Staff, Montgomery Hospital
  • Staff, Mercy Suburban Hospital
  • Board Member, Plymouth Community Ambulance Association
  • “Instrumental in establishing the first walking and exercise trail in Montgomery County”
  • Implement his “Live Safely Initiative”
    • “Personally visiting each Montgomery County High School, Dr. Clement will talk to students about the negative effects of drinking and drugs”
  • Make forms/other services more available online (PhillyBurbs)


Morgan vs. Greenleaf for Montco Controller 2011

This November, Stewart Greenleaf Jr. will challenge incumbent Diane Morgan for Montgomery County Controller. Overviews of the candidates’ education,  credentials and priorities are below.

The County Controller is the watchdog that supervises the county’s fiscal affairs.

To visit the Montgomery County Controller’s website, click here.

Note: Sources for the information are in parentheses. Where no source is indicated, the information was pulled from the candidates’ own website.

For Morgan’s campaign site, click here.
For Greenleaf’s campaign site, click here.

- Diane Morgan

  • Education
  • Experience/Background

    • Founder/CEO of the rehabilitation agency DM&A.
    • Worked with Citizens for Better Ambler
    • “[F]ounding member of the Community Advisory Group that works with the Environmental Protection Agency to find viable solutions to the 32 acre Bo-Rit asbestos site in Ambler”
  • Priorities
    • “[D]emanded that all County contracts be sent to her office since County Code mandates the Controller’s office as the custodian of all valuable documents.”
    • “[I]dentified $15 million dollars in accounting errors in the Employees Retirement Fund accounts in 2008.”
    • Sued county, saying the Controller’s Office was underfunded and understaffed (Philly.com)
    • Started process of converting Controller’s office “from manual processing into an efficient, computerized, county-wide accounts payable system.”
    • Bring the County Employees’ Handbook into line with accepted business practices
      • For example, “County employees should not be rewarded with total annual vacation pay and personal time after working only five days in the beginning of each new calendar year.”

- Stewart Greenleaf Jr.

  • Education
    • 2000 Graduate of University of Maryland, BA
    • 2004 Graduate of American University’s Washington College of Law, JD
      • President, American University Chapter of the Federalist Society of Law and Public Policy Studies (ElliotGreenleaf.com)
  • Experience/Background
    • Commercial Litigator, Elliott Greenleaf & Siedzikowski, P.C.
    • Treasurer of the Montgomery Bar Association’s Trial Lawyer’s Section, 2011
    • Volunteer, Montgomery Child Advocacy Project
    • Hearing Committee Member, Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Board
    • Trustee, Upper Moreland Free Public Library
    • Member, Upper Moreland Township Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission
    • Named a Pennsylvania SuperLawyers “Rising Star” in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
    • Clerk at PA Superior Court
  • Priorities
    • “[A]s funding permits, phase in the posting of all County disbursements online, while maintaining an appropriate level of privacy for individuals and security measures.”
    • “[E]nsure that the County government’s financial information is accessible and easily understood.”
    • Believes Morgan’s lawsuit against the county for allegedly underfunding/understaffing the Controller’s Office is a “waste” (TimesHerald)


Judge of the Montco Court of Common Pleas Election 2011

This November, voters will elect two of four candidates to 10-year terms on the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. Overviews of the candidates’ careers and credentials are below.

What is the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas? Check out this description, from PACourts.us:

The Courts of Common Pleas are the trial courts of Pennsylvania. Major civil and criminal cases are heard in these courts. Judges also decide cases involving adoption, divorce, child custody, abuse, juvenile delinquency, estates, guardianships, charitable organizations and many other matters.

To visit the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas’ website, click here.

Note: Sources for the information are in parentheses. Where no source is indicated, the information was pulled from the candidates’ own website.

For Austin’s website, click here.
For Clifford’s website, click here.
For Coggins’ website, click here.
For Haaz’s website, click here.

- Cheryl Austin

  • Capital University Law School, JD (CherylAustin.com)
  • Northwestern University School of Speech, BA in Speech (CherylAustin.com)
  • University of Cincinnati, AD in Computer Systems (CherylAustin.com)
  • Navy Captain in the U.S. Navy
  • Assistant District Attorney in Montgomery County
  • Assistant County Solicitor
  • Staff Attorney for Ohio Supreme Court
  • Public Affairs Officer at the Pentagon
  • Public School Administrator
    • Specialized in labor relations
  • Served on the Cable Television Advisory Board in her home municipality
  • Chaired the Cincinnati Women’s Political Caucus
  • Human Resources Director for the Ohio Secretary of State
  • “[F]ounding member of the C.A.L.M. (Committed Activists Leading Many) Society, devoted to bridging the achievement gap of African-American students in the Abington, PA school district.”
  • “[W]as a volunteer mediator in a community program designed to reduce a municipal court case backlog”
  • “[A]warded a Public Interest Law Fellowship that funded a six-week internship with the South Florida Poverty Law Center in Miami, where she assisted Haitian refugees seeking asylum.”
  • Chair, Montgomery County Commission on Women and Families
  • Chair, Diversity Committee of the Montgomery County Bar Association
  • Board member of the Willow Grove, PA NAACP chapter
  • Trustee of the Montgomery County Community College
    • Chairs the Curriculum Committee
  • “[N]amed a “Rising Star” among Elder Law attorneys by Philadelphia Magazine” (CherylAustin.com)
  • Recommendations/Endorsements:
    • “Recommended” by the Montgomery Bar Association (PhillyBurbs)

- Dan Clifford

  • 1984 University of Baltimore School of Law Graduate, JD
  • 1981 Indiana University of PA Graduate, BA
  • Law Clerk, Governor’s Office of General Counsel
  • Norristown Attorney (25 years)
  • Chair, Springfield Township Zoning Hearing Board (14 years)
  • PA and Montgomery County Bar Association Leader
  • Child Custody, Adoption and Diversity Advocate
  • Partner, Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires & Newby LLP
  • Director, Adoptions From the Heart Board of Directors
  • Member, Advisory Board, Office of Children and Youth
  • Board of Directors, Equality Forum
  • Authored various scholarly articles (for list, click here)
  • Believes the Family Court system should be more “user-friendly” and responsive
  • “[I]nitiate a case management system on assigned cases—taking control of the cases from the very beginning, being “pro-active” on resolution of issues and ensuring cases move through the system expeditiously.”
  • “[O]rganize a “Custody Action Team” of Family Court Judges to step in immediately to hear those cases where the children are being withheld from the other parent or otherwise being used as bargaining chips in the early days of a party’s divorce.”
  • “[I]mplement a Family Court Motion Court where issues of emergent nature, which require a “referee” to step in quickly, will be heard bi-weekly instead of waiting 6-8 weeks under the current system.”
  • “[M]andate a training program” for attorneys and judges on custody issues “where proven techniques and training are provided to ensure the welfare of the child.”
  • “[I]mplement a “Kids First Program” for children going through the custody process for the first time. A Judge, lawyer and therapist will meet with the children in a seminar setting, in the Courtroom, to explain the process and answer questions in an effort to ease their discomfort.”
  • For a list of awards, click here.
  • Recommendations/Endorsements:
    • “Highly Recommended” by the Montgomery Bar Association (PhillyBurbs)

- Maureen Coggins

  • Widener University School of Law (SmartVoter)
  • Franklin and Marshall College, BS (SmartVoter)
  • Prosecutor, Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office (8 years)
    • Chief of Special Prosecutions Unit
    • Chief of the Major Crimes Unit
  • Special Prosecutor for the PA SPCA
  • Montgomery County Deputy Solicitor
  • Chief Public Defender of Lehigh County
  • Child Advocate for Montgomery County’s Child Advocacy program
  • Advocate for the mentally ill
  • “[H]elped develop and oversee a county task force geared toward the revitalization of Norristown.” (TheReporterOnline)
  • Associate with Black and Gerngross (TheReporterOnline)
  • Recommendations/Endorsements:
    • “Recommended” by the Montgomery County Bar Association Committee on the Judiciary
    • Endorsed by PA State Policy Lodge 37
    • Endorsed by Lower Merion FOP Lodge 28
    • Endorsed by Norristown FOP Lodge 31
    • Endorsed by PA Narcotic Officers’ Association
    • Endorsed by County Detectives’ Association of PA

- Richard Haaz

  • 1975 Graduate of Penn State (with honors)
  • 1978 Graduate of University of New Hampshire School of Law
  • Hearing Committee Chairman, Disciplinary Board of the PA Supreme Court
  • Trial Lawyer (over 32 years)
  • “[I]mprove the system of managing cases so that they are efficiently supervised and brought to trial far more quickly.”
  • Named as a 2011 Pennsylvania “Super Lawyer”
  • Big Brothers/Big Sisters Solicitor and Board Member
  • Lecturer for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute
  • Montgomery County Office of Children and Youth Citizens Advisory Committee
  • Judicial Law Clerk at the Court of Common Pleas
  • Recommendations/Endorsements:
    • “Highly Recommended” by the Montgomery County Bar Association (PhillyBurbs)
    • Endorsed by the Southeastern PA National Organization for Women
    • Endorsed by UFCW Local 1776


Boockvar vs. Covey for Commonwealth Court of PA

This election voters will elect either Kathryn Boockvar or Anne Covey to a 10-year term on the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. Overviews of the candidates’ careers and credentials are below.

What is the Commonwealth Court? Check out this brief description, from a PoliticsPA article:

The Commonwealth Court is a court unique to Pennsylvania that deals with legal matters involving the state, local governments and regulatory agencies. It hears lawsuits against the state and typically focuses on issues such as taxation, right-to-know, elections, banking, insurance, utility regulation, labor practices and workers compensation. Their decisions can be appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Note: Sources for the information are in parentheses. Where no source is indicated, the information was pulled from the candidates’ own website.

To view Boockvar’s website, click here.
To view Covey’s website, click here.

- Kathryn Boockvar

  • 1993 American University Graduate
    • Washington College of Law, JD
  • 1990 University of Pennsylvania Graduate, BA
  • 1996, Lancaster Mediation Center
    • Mediation Training
  • 1995, Intensive Spanish Language Program
  • Managing partner at Boockvar and Yeager
  • Senior Attorney at the Advancement Project
    • “Boockvar worked as a statewide voters’ rights attorney for the group” (PennLive)
  • Staff Attorney at Lehigh Valley Legal Services, Inc.
  • Staff Attorney at Northern PA Legal Services, Inc.
  • Founding member of the American University Journal of Gender and the Law (1991-1993)
  • Member of various community organizations and professional associations (view list here)
  • Worked on voting rights issues (for list of activities/organizations, click here)
  • Recommendations/Endorsements:
    • “Recommended” by the PA Bar Association (PBA)
    • Endorsed by the PA Chapter of the Sierra Club (PoliticsPA)
    • Endorsed by the Association of State College and University Faculties (APSCUF)

-Anne Covey

  • Assistant Counsel with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board
  • Law Clerk with the Commonwealth Court of PA
  • “[S]he practiced with national law firms until founding her own law firm 14 years ago which concentrates on Employment and Labor Law matters.”
  • Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (first female member)
  • Author, The Workplace Law Advisor: From Harassment and Discrimination Policies to Hiring and Firing Guidelines – What Every Manager and Employee Needs to Know
  • “[P]rolific writer and speaker with national organizations such as the Society for Human Resource Management… as well as the American Compensation Association”
  • Author of various scholarly articles (view list here)
  • Recommendations/Endorsements:
    • “Recommended” by the PA Bar Association (PBA)
    • Endorsed by the Pennsylvania Medical Political Action Committee (PAMPAC)


Stabile vs. Wecht for PA Superior Court

This election voters will elect either Vic Stabile or David Wecht to a 10-year term on the Pennsylvania Superior Court. Overviews of the candidates’ careers and credentials are below.

Note: Sources for the information are in parentheses. Where no source is indicated, the information was pulled from the candidates’ own website.

To view Stabile’s website, click here.
To view Wecht’s website, click here.

-Vic Stabile

  • 1982 Dickinson School of Law Graduate
    • President of the Student Bar Association
    • Member of the Law Review
  • Appellate Court Clerk in the Commonwealth Court of PA
  • Served as a Deputy Attorney General
  • Dilworth-Paxson LLP
  • Named one of PA’s “Super Lawyers” by Philadelphia Magazine in 2004
  • Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Middlesex Township, Cumberland County
  • Handled a case “as a deputy attorney general that protected the state from lawsuits for accidents on state forest land” (Morning Call)
  • Won a case that “invalidated the mandatory retirement age of 60 for state troopers.” (Morning Call)
  • Strict constructionalist (Morning Call)
  • Recommendations/Endorsements:
    • “Recommended” by the PA Bar Association (PA Bar Association)
    • Endorsed by the Pennsylvania Medical Political Action Committee (PAMPAC)

-David Wecht

  • 1984 Yale University Graduate
    • History Major
    • Political Science Major (Concentration in International Relations)
  • 1987 Yale School of Law Graduate
    • Notes Editor for the Yale Law Journal
    • Editor for the Yale Journal of International Law
    • Editor for the Yale Law and Policy Review
  • Judge, Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division (5th District)
  • Administrative Judge, Court of Common Pleas, Family Division (5th District)
  • Authored numerous scholarly articles (view list here)
  • Adjunct at University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne
  • Extensive teaching/lecturing experience (view list here)
  • Heavily involved in civic/community activities (view list here)
  • Established “a Unified Family Court, which assigns one judge to a family who follows that family through the judicial system” according to The Times Leader.
  • “[C]reated a free will consultation program for seniors and he authored a state law that prevents accused murderers from controlling their victims’ estates” during his time as Allegheny County’s Register of Wills and Clerk of Orphan’s Court (The Times Leader)
  • Clerk to U.S. Circuit Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals (in Washington, D.C) (The Times Leader)
  • Will “push to end the practice of publishing only precedential opinions” (Morning Call)
  • Recommendations/Endorsements: