This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.
WEST CHESTER — In a close race, Republican candidate Marian Thayer Vito defeated Democrat Jon Long for the magisterial district judge seat that cover’s West Chester’s east side.
Vito’s come-from-behind victory was by a mere margin of 45 votes, with the registered Democrat receiving an unofficial 597 votes to Long’s 552.
“Several aspects of the job (inspired) me to run,” Vito said before the election. “As a (former) prosecutor, I always appreciated the time I spent in the District Courts of Chester County because it’s in these courts that the judge interacts one-on-one with people and has a real influence on the regular, daily life of the community. I like working with people and I like being able to solve concrete, real-life problems.”
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After a bitter primary between the two attorneys over the Democratic ticket in May, the results were also close, that time by 52 votes in Long’s favor with a tally of 245 to 193.
However, the turnout wasn’t as low in some wards of West Chester as the voters came out to show their support for one or the other candidate.
In Ward 1 at the Mary Taylor House polling center, it saw an influx of voters.
Compared to the 2013 election, which had 513 voters, according to Jim Salvas of the West Chester Borough Democrats, this year exceeded that number over an hour before the polls closed.
Long held a slight lead in three of the district’s five precincts, but Ward 5 gave Vito the boost she needed with a 38-vote spread — the largest in any of the precincts — and Ward 1’s 32-vote spread from the large showing sealed the win.
Long’s loss was announced via his campaign’s Facebook page before all the precincts reported in.
“Congrats to his opponent on a hard fought campaign,” the page said. “Thank you to all of our volunteers for your help. We can’t thank you enough for all of your time and effort.”
It also went on to say that even though Long didn’t win, the work to make West Chester a better place to live will continue.
Vito will assume her new position in January. Current Magisterial District Judge Gwenn Knapp is retiring.
“Having served as a prosecutor, I understand that the job of Magisterial District Judge is very different from that of an attorney,” she said before the election. “Taking the course is the only way to be fully prepared for the Magisterial District Judge’s wide-ranging responsibilities, which include handling many types of cases, supervising six employees and managing about $1 million in annual revenue.”
A major theme in Vito’s campaign was the experience — both in the courts and in life — and the maturity she could bring as a district judge.
“To do the best job, a Magisterial District Judge must have the maturity and life experience that allows them to apply the law sensibly,” she said. “They must be able to effectively administrate the court, and to work well with people to solve problems.”
All results are unofficial until certified.