Random thoughts, ideas and pictures of a multi-tasking, yarn-addicted Lady Lawyer

Yes... I really DO have 5 kids

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

February 2011 -- Moving Forward

For weeks now, I have put my "Birthday Resolution post" on hold and this is not that post although it is related to it.  I wanted to have the chance to speak to MDJ Murray directly before making this announcement and I had that opportunity earlier this morning.  An "official" announcement will be forthcoming along with the formation of a committee and the opening of a facebook page (and a bank account and appointment of managers, etc.), but this is my pseudo-official announcement that I will begin circulating petitions next week for the office of Magisterial District Judge for district 38-1-21.   The district is comprised of Whitpain, Lower Gwynedd, Upper Gwynedd and North Wales so if you live in those areas, I may be asking for your support in getting signatures. The judicial positions are cross-filed: I need Democratic and GOP signatures and if you can help out, please message me and I will get you the forms you need.  That applies to friends and family from both parties... if you live in the district, I need your help !! 

Many of you know that this has been a very difficult decision for me.  I never wanted to run against MDJ Murray as an incumbent and chose not to do so six years ago.  When I first heard last winter that Judge Murray was going to seek re-election despite his inability to complete the term, I stepped back and said I would not run.  However, based on many conversations with people that I trust and whose advice I take to heart, I will be seeking the endorsement of the GOP committee for this district later this month.  Judge Murray cannot fill his term because he will be forced to retire next year.  I don't make the rules, the legislature does.  We lose many great judges to mandatory retirement.  If it was simply a matter of me waiting until Judge Murray retired and seeking first the appointment and then the election to fill the remainder of the time, I would be happy to wait.  I wanted to wait out of respect to Judge Murray and have told him that personally.  Unfortunately, my hand is being forced by a a third person seeking the seat who is planning on running against Judge Murray whether I do so or not.  I am not willing to look back in five years and say "I wish I had run in 2011."

When it comes down to it, my qualifications both personally and professionally are strong.   I have lived in Whitpain Township for almost 40 years.  I have raised (or am raising) five children here. My three older children are hard working good young people -- a clerical worker at the courthouse, an inner city middle school teacher and an American Airman, serving his country.  My husband and I have done a good job balancing the demands of our careers with making sure our kids grow up to be responsible citizens.   I have volunteered with schools and in the community and I have done so constantly -- not just since the Summer of 2007 when one of my opponents moved here.  I have started Mock Trial teams at Wissahickon and at Gwynedd Mercy Academy as an attorney adviser.  I have served as an executive officer for the Wissahickon Band Parents, the Cheerleading parents and the musical theater and drama groups for the high school.  I currently volunteer both at Shady Grove Elementary where my 10 year old is in 4th grade and at Hobbit House pre-school where my youngest daughter attends pre-kindergarten.  I have taught crafts to children, to adults as well as making items for charity.  I am an active member of Woman's Club of Whitpain and have served as a committee person, Whitpain Township and Area 10 GOP secretary for many years.  I have worked the polls in the rain, in the cold and while pregnant (my youngest daughter was almost born AT the polls on May 16, 2006).  My husband is a Chemistry teacher at North Penn High School and he also serves on many committees and does work with children.  Our scheduling skills alone qualify either of us for elected office.  We didn't just move to the district and have me decide to be the Magisterial District Judge --  I have lived here and worked here and volunteered here my entire life.  We are devoted to this community and have shown that devotion for decades.

Professionally, in addition to being a wife and mother, I went back to law school in 1992 when my older children were 7, 4 and 2 1/2.  After school, I opened my own law firm where I work full-time to this day.  I am an experienced lawyer who has devoted her practice to criminal defense and family law for the past fifteen years (17 if you count my two years as a certified legal intern before law school graduation).  I chair the Rules of Criminal Court Committee for the Montgomery Bar Association -- a joint prosecution and defense committee.  I am active in the Women in Law committee as well as in the Criminal Defense committee.  Since last Spring, I have been a part-time Solicitor for the Montgomery County Office of Children & Youth where I assist in keeping the kids of Montgomery County safe once they have been adjudicated as dependent children by the Juvenile Court.  I am also the attorney in charge of child support for that office; which means that if OCY places children, it's my job to try and get the parents to help pay the costs of that placement.  I have served for 14 years as an arbitrator for Montgomery County -- sitting on three lawyer quasi-judicial panels to try and relieve the civil court docket by resolving smaller cases and district court appeals.  My professional experience is such that I am the most qualified person to run for this seat: I can fill out the whole term AND I know the law and the rules.  Magisterial District Judges are not required to be lawyers -- but it is a tremendous advantage that I have such a variety of litigation experience.

On a very personal note, to my friends who have helped me agonize over this decision and to my wonderful husband who has supported me in more ways than I can ever express, thank you.  I may collect hundreds of signatures, go to the mini-endorsement convention that will be held late this month and not receive the endorsement of my party.  If I do not receive that endorsement, I will not run.  Period.  I think any candidate who runs in a race like this without that endorsement should step out of the race and I have held other people to that standard for years; I expect all three candidates for the endorsement to show their respect for the committee's decision.  I may get the endorsement and not win the primary.  I may win the primary and not win the election in November.  But to not try would be a travesty.  I have, for many many years, wanted to run for this seat.  It is a shame that I have to do so against one person I respect tremendously and that has been my dilemma.  But I cannot sit back and let my dream be taken away by someone who has not been here for a fraction of the time that I have devoted to this district.  All of the support that I have received and know that I will continue to receive is appreciated.  It's appreciated a lot.

Thanks for reading.