By Andrew McCue
The Birdsboro Rotary Club and the League of Women Voters of Berks County held a forum where the public could meet and ask questions of the candidates for Magisterial District Justice for district 23-3-01. Held at the hall of Friendship Fire Company #1 of Birdsboro on Thursday, May 5, the discussion was moderated by Renee Dietrich.
After opening statements, residents from the district, which includes Brecknock, Caernarvon, Robeson and Union townships, and Birdsboro and New Morgan boroughs, wrote questions on cards which were then answered by all of the candidates present.
The candidates are Tim Bitler, John Chernesky, David Glass, Bill Handforth, Mark Pellicciotti, Anne Anne Perrige and Peter Uhniat.
In the opening statement portion Bitler said, "As an attorney I have handled most types of cases that come before a district justice." He added that he has had good relations with district justices in his 19 years as a lawyer.
Glass said, "I feel I can balance the scales of justice." He noted as some of his qualifications his experience as a constable and as a police officer.
Handforth said with his 25 years as a police officer, "There is not too much I haven't seen." "I've been there," he added, "and done that."
Pellicciotti noted his contributions to the community and his more than 21 years in law enforcement. "I started the block parent program in Boone," he said. He described his candidacy saying, "It is more than experience, it's dedication to the community."
The other attorney on the panel, Perrige, said, "Justice, in my opinion, begins with the knowledge of the law." She added that she moved to Berks county after 10 years practicing law in Philadelphia. "I love Berks county, the people and the place," she added.
"This campaign is not about me," said Uhniat in his opening statement, "it is about you."
Uhniat added, "The job is much more than law."
Candidate John Chernesky was absent.
A reoccurring theme of the event was each candidates experiences, with Bitler and Perrige being attorneys, Uhniat being a bussness person and the remainder of the candidates present being from some aspect of law enforcement.
Bitler said that he would be a full time Magisterial District Justice but that he would keep his law practice open. He said the rules that govern the office allow for that. Perrige said, if elected, she would give up her practice.
Uhniat said that his 40 years of business experience has taught him how to deal with people. He said it is important to have the ability to make people believe that the office works for them.
Pellicciotti, recently retired from the Birdsboro Police Department so he could run for the Magisterial District Justice position.
Handforth spoke about his experience, "I've made homicide arrests, I've made rape arrests, I've made juvenile arrests."
Jonathan Hoster, a sixth grade teacher at Immaculate Conception Academy, who attended the event along with students from the school said, "We were excited that the students took advantage of this."
"It makes you an educated voter." he added.
At the close of the event Moderator Renee Dietrich said, "Remember your vote is your voice."