MERCER County judges interview commissioner candidates
The judges plan to make their appointment immediately after completing the last interview Friday.
By HAROLD GWIN
VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU
MERCER, Pa. -- Mercer County's common pleas judges spent part of Wednesday and were to spend much of today and Friday interviewing county commissioner candidates.
The court is looking for a successor to Republican Brian Shipley, who resigned last week after being accused of improper use of his county cellular telephone to make numerous calls to escort services, massage parlors and similar businesses.
The resignation leaves two years and two months in Shipley's unexpired term and has attracted 42 candidates.
The only criteria is that they must have been living in the county and registered as a Republican at the time of Shipley's election two years ago.
Francis J. Fornelli, president judge, said he was surprised by the amount of interest and promised all those who submitted a letter and r & eacute;sum & eacute; to the court by the deadline will get a 15-minute interview with the three judges.
On the list: There are some current elected municipal officials on the list, including Hermitage City Commissioner Joseph Augustine and Jamestown Councilwoman Michele Brooks, and some former local officials including former West Middlesex Mayor Jack Thompson and former Greenville Councilman Michael D'Alfonso.
The list includes some who have unsuccessfully sought political office in the past, including Thomas Flynn of Hermitage and William Klumph of South Pymatuning Township -- both have sought county offices -- and the Rev. Bruce Richael of Farrell, an unsuccessful candidate for Farrell City Council.
There are also some with connections to the courthouse, including James Bennington of Mercer, director of voter registrations and elections, and Richard Boggs of Stoneboro, the county's chief clerk.
The list also includes a retiring fire chief, Walter "Chad" Sankey of Greenville, and a reporter, Laurie Galentine of Stoneboro, from the Record-Argus newspaper in Greenville.
Fornelli said the last interview is scheduled to be over at 3:30 p.m. Friday, and the judges will immediately go into a closed-door session in an attempt to pick a successor.
If necessary, the court may meet over the weekend to wrap up deliberations, he said.
Dr. David King, Mercer County Republican Committee chairman, said 35 people also submitted letters to the party, seeking support for their appearance before the court.
King said that list, which is duplicated on the court list, was to be narrowed by the committee Wednesday to three names to be sent to the court.
The court isn't bound by that recommendation, however.
The others on the court's list are:
Raymond Allison, Sharpsville.
David Bailey, Mercer.
Ronald Bequeath, Mercer.
Gregory Beshero, Sharpsville.
James Campbell III, Transfer.
Michael Cooney, Grove City.
David Croyle, Grove City.
John Hubicz, Sharpsville.
Steven Jewell, Greenville.
Dorothy Joyce, Mercer.
Roy Kingery, New Wilmington.
Richard Krueger Jr., Greenville.
Edward Lancaster, Mercer.
Jeffrey Landfried, Greenville.
James Leas, West Middlesex.
Elliot Lengel, Mercer.
John Maynard, Hermitage.
Thomas Meyer, Mercer.
Vivian Moon, Mercer.
Catherine Mott, Mercer.
Frank O'Stafy, Hermitage.
Mark Ostheimer, Sharon.
Joan Oswald, Greenville.
James Owens, Greenville.
Jefferis Peterson, Grove City.
Joseph Phillips Jr., Mercer.
Lorraine Rutter, Mercer.
Kenneth Seamans, New Wilmington.
Eric Squires, Sharon.
James Williams, Mercer.
James Zawacki, Hermitage.