Both candidates say they intend to go out to meet as many people as possible before the general election.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- A good, clean race.
That's how candidates seeking the post as Lawrence County's fourth judge described the 2001 primary election.
Thomas M. Piccione came out on top for the Democratic nomination with nearly 44 percent of the vote. John W. Hodge won the Republican race with 48 percent of the vote.
However, Piccione received nearly 2,000 more votes than Hodge.
The third person in the primary election race, Susan M. Papa, finished second in the Democratic race with 35 percent and third in the Republican race with 23 percent.
All three sought both the Democratic and Republican nominations. Judicial candidates in Pennsylvania are permitted to file for both parties' nominations.
Pleased: Hodge and Piccione say they were pleased with the campaigning during the primary election campaign.
"I think all three of us conducted ourselves as professionals. There was no negative campaigning," Piccione said.
Hodge described his opponents as respectful.
"Tom and Susan both ran very nice campaigns," he said.
All three focused on their legal experience and their desire to serve as judge. They say state law prohibits them from talking about issues during a campaign.
Hodge and Piccione say they hope there are few campaign changes for the general election.
Both intend to go out to meet as many people as possible before the final race in the fall.
The general election winner will become the county's fourth common pleas court judge.
Newly created: The position was created in November by the Pennsylvania Legislature. Local officials say a fourth judge will help alleviate backlogs in the judicial system and allow the three current judges more time to deliberate.
It will also eliminate the need for court masters. Masters are attorneys appointed by the court to hear matters that the judges do not have time to handle. One master now handles juvenile matters, and another handles property disputes in divorces.