This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.
WEST CHESTER — With just a week left until the 2015 primaries, Marian Vito, D/R, and Jon Long, D, participated in a candidates’ forum at The Hickman to answer the burning questions anyone in the audience had.
The two candidates are running for the open position of Magisterial District Judge in District Court 15-1-04, which has been vacated by Gwenn Knapp.
Sponsored by the League of Women Voters, the candidates’ forum allows those seeking public office the ability to express their views openly to public gathered to inform the community of their positions.
It also allowed those in attendance the chance to ask the questions they want answered.
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“The questions were good,” Vito said after the event. “I thought maybe they would be too general and hard for either of us to answer, but I thought they gave both candidates a chance to answer the question. It was good.”
The forum was setup to allow the audience to participate through written questions, which were then asked by the moderator.
Both candidates were allowed a minute and 30 seconds to respond to each question.
And the audience didn’t hold back at times, showing they’ve kept up with all the current news surrounding both candidates.
As was recent news in late March, the West Chester Democrats endorsed Long, and a question from one community member asked if either were endorsed.
“I am endorsed by the Democratic party,” Long said. “I’m not going to hide the fact that I’ve been active with the Democratic party in the borough for years.”
Vito, who is running on both tickets, did not seek an endorsement.
“The reason I am not endorsed by the Democratic or Republican party is because … I take very seriously that a judge — and I believe a judge’s candidacy needs to be nonpolitical.”
Though Vito did not pursue one, Joseph Carroll, former district attorney, and Tom Hogan, current DA, both recently endorsed Vito.
While both candidates have never sat in a judge’s chair, both have spent time in front of them in their legal careers, though at different times.
“I’m the only current assistant district attorney in this race,” Long said. “In that role, for the last three and a half years, I’ve appeared in front of district judges all over this county and all over Bucks County. … I’m the only person in this race that has current legal knowledge working as an assistant district attorney.
“I’ve handled these cases on a daily basis, day in and day out. I’ve worked on the issues. A lot of these quality of life issues are going to be things that this district judge is going to be working directly on. I have experience working in those areas and dealing with those issues.”
Long is referencing to the fact that Vito has taken time away from her legal career.
During the time away, she raised her two children and also took care of extended family on both her and her husband’s side.
“Jon has the most recent prosecutorial experience, but I just want to point out I have more than three times the length of service in a prosecutor’s office,” Vito said. “Yes, I did take time off to care for my family. I don’t see that as a negative. I see that as contributing to my qualifications for district judge.
“I took the district judge course. Although I’m not a current prosecutor, I did attend the month-long course in Harrisburg, which is specifically put on and offered to attorneys so that they are up-to-date on the law that is specific to that position.”
The questions continued to flow from the crowd, allowing the forum to last for 45 minutes.
When all was said and done, both candidates spent some time to speak individually with community members who had any lingering questions or concerns.
The primaries will be held Tuesday, May 19.