Some elections really are this simple, and the choices that clear. For all of us who are sick and tired of politics, promises and pettiness, this Election Day we can vote for a team of proven professionals for key Westmoreland County row offices.
The county offices on this year’s ballot play an important role in our lives – ensuring justice for crime victims, protecting your rights and privacy, helping families, and managing millions of dollars of your tax money. These jobs require experience and temperance. The professionals who currently hold the office of District Attorney, Prothonotary and Coroner have earned re-election.
District Attorney John Peck has been the county’s chief prosecutor since 1994. He has locked up thousands of murderers, drug dealers, thieves and rapists. This includes his successful death sentence convictions for members of the notorious “Greensburg Six”, who tortured and murdered a woman with an intellectual disability in 2010. He recently earned induction into the Pennsylvania Police Hall of Fame, and his reputation is beyond reproach with local law enforcement, victims’ advocates and fellow attorneys. He knows how to keep the bad guys off our streets. His work ethic is impeccable. He has dedicated his career to ensuring justice for victims and their families. As noted by the Tribune-Review in endorsing him, “…residents have a champion for justice whose case for re-election couldn’t be more clear. Case closed.”
John Peck’s opponent works for a Pittsburgh law firm specializing in “business transactions and planning, real estate and banking law, bankruptcy law, tax and estate planning”. He has never tired a criminal case. He has never stared down a murderer. He has never consoled a victim of violent crime. He has never done any of the things a DA needs to do. He should not be given the chance now. We can’t afford on-the-job training.
In only her first term in office, Prothonotary Christina O’Brien has made her operations more modern and more accessible. She has expanded her office hours, and begun mobile passport services. She has improved on-line access and instituted on-line credit card payment services. She is also fighting to make sure your sensitive personal information remains private. For all her efforts, she has earned the respect and admiration of her statewide Prothonotary peers of both parties. It is worth nothing, too, that of all the elected countywide officeholders, Christina is the only woman – and the only female candidate. We need to have more women involved in government, not fewer. That she is eminently qualified and has a track record of success makes her reelection even more critical.
Christina O’Brien’s opponent likes politics. He likes campaigns. His experience is working with candidates and the local Republican Committee. I’m sure he’s a good kid, who’s worked hard for Republican politicians, but that doesn’t mean you automatically deserve to be elected yourself.
Coroner Ken Bacha has handled his difficult position with dignified compassion. He has conducted more than 18,000 death investigations in his 12 years as coroner. He has also overseen a number of high profile coroner inquests, with an unwavering commitment to truth and justice for victims. His background with his family funeral home business combined with his strong character and conviction make him uniquely qualified to be coroner. Ken has taken the job to new levels too — using his experience investigating drug overdose deaths to institute a community and school awareness campaign about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and heroin. He has been a driving force behind the county’s new Drug Task Force.
Ken Bacha’s opponent once worked for him – until he was fired for a long history of disciplinary problems. There are many reasons one seeks office – a personal vendetta against your old boss should never be among them.
These three incumbents deserve to be reelected. They are professionals in their fields. They are community leaders. They are the type of people we need at our courthouse working hard for us all every day. I have had the honor of serving with them, and can personally attest to their passion for their jobs, their seriousness of purpose and their strong fiscal management.
The onslaught of political advertising is underway, and there will be all sorts of ridiculous attempts to link these candidates to everything wrong – or perceived to be wrong – in Washington D.C. This is what weak campaigns do – distract you from what matters, like experience and trust. It’s nonsense, and really shows that their opponents have nothing negative to say about the fine work these officeholders are doing.
This Election Day, we have the opportunity to reject the outside influences and stay with a proven professional team that has served Westmoreland County well. Remember to vote Tuesday, November 5.