Choose Proven Professionals (Again)

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.

I wrote the following prior to the 2013 election. While some of the opponents have changed (and the original article has been edited to reflect that), the quality of the Democratic incumbents certainly has not. In fact, their records have only gotten better.

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’s 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. His office has been key to the success of our county Drug Treatment Court. 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.”

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. She is eminently qualified and has a track record of success.

Like four years ago, the local Republican Party seemingly has targeted her. But her opponent’s flashy billboards can’t mask that she has no real case for voters to make a change in that office. O’Brien is a dedicated public servant, has been frugal with county dollars, and has hired a quality staff to ensure top-notch customer service.

Coroner Ken Bacha has handled his difficult position with dignified compassion. He has conducted more than 25,000 death investigations in his 16 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, 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 saved county taxpayers money, too, bringing autopsies back to Westmoreland County in our state-of-the-art Forensics Center.

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.

This Election Day, we have the opportunity to stay with a proven team that has served Westmoreland County well. Remember to vote Tuesday, November 7.