A public forum will be held on atˆ  Jan. 19 so potential Republican candidates for the special election to fill the 11th Senatorial District can address the Berks County Republican Committee members living in the district.

The forum will start at 6:30 p.m. at Exeter Junior High School, 151 E. 39th St.

A special election will be held on March 15 to fill Senator Michael A. O'Pake's seat. O'Pake passed away on Dec. 27, 2010, in Reading Hospital after complications suffered fromˆ  heart bypass surgery on Nov. 22.

The Republican and Democratic committees have until Jan 24 to file nomination certificates with the state.

Andrew Fick, chairman of the executive committee, said the committee met with Republican candidates in closed session last week.

'The reason we are holding a public forum is so that committee members have several days give the executive board input on who they think should be the candidate,' Fick said.

He said the executive committee is looking for the best candidate.

'Each candidate has a level playing field,' Fick said. '[During the public forum] they will explain why they should be selected.'

There are five Republicans interested in having their names on the ballot, Fick said.

The five people are Michael Rivera, assistant vice president, Small Business Services for the Greater Reading Area Chamber of Commerce; Lawrence J. Medaglia, Register of Wills;ˆ  Barry J. Jozwiak, former sheriff; Kenneth A. Smith, Exeter supervisor and James M. Smith, an attorney.

On the Democratic side, Chair of Exeter Township Board of Supervisors and planning commission member Donald R. Wilson is one of the people interested in being nominated by the county's Democratic executive committee.

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