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Hopefuls for Pa. Supreme, Superior, Commonwealth courts to take debate stages

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Adams County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael George
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Sidney Davis | Trib Total Media
Superior Court Judge David Wecht of Indiana Township.
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Sidney Davis | Trib Total Media
Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Kevin Dougherty
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Superior Court Judge Christine Donohue of Point Breeze
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Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey of Bucks County
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Superior Court Judge Judy Olson of Wexford.
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Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Paul Panepinto is running as an independent.

Pennsylvania voters will have a chance to watch the candidates for the state’s appellate courts face off in debates Wednesday and Thursday.

The Pennsylvania Cable Network will air a debate held at Widener College with the seven Supreme Court candidates beginning at 5 p.m.

Republican candidates include Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey of Bucks County, Adams County Common Pleas Judge Michael George of Gettysburg and Superior Court Judge Judy Olson of Wexford.

Democrats include Superior Court Judge Christine Donohue of Point Breeze, Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Kevin Dougherty and Superior Court Judge David Wecht of Indiana Township.

The seventh candidate, Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Paul Panepinto, is running as an independent.

The forum will last 90 minutes. Three panelists will pose the questions.

Each candidate is vying for one of three open seats on the seven-member court, which come with a 10-year term and a starting salary of about $203,000.

Those who do not have PCN in their cable packages can choose to watch the debate live, via the for-purchase PCN Select mobile app.

On Thursday at noon, a similar debate will occur for the intermediate courts. Debate organizers invited the Superior Court candidates, Democratic Judge Alice Beck Dubow and Republican Judge Emil Giordano, and Commonwealth Court candidates, Republican Paul Lalley and Democrat Michael Wojcik. Organizers said Wojcik will be unable to attend.

Superior and Commonwealth court jurists have 10-year terms and starting salaries of about $191,000.

Lynn Marks, executive director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, which advocates for merit selection of judges, will moderate Thursday’s event. PCN will broadcast the 90-minute forum live.

In addition to Marks’ group, organizers and sponsors for the debates are the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania Citizen Education Fund; Pennsylvania Women’s Forum; Widener University Commonwealth Law School Law and Government Institute; Common Cause; Committee of Seventy; and the Pennsylvania State Conference of the NAACP.

Melissa Daniels is a staff writer forTrib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8511 or [email protected].

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