Two more join race in Northamp­ton

The Morning Call - - FRONT PAGE - By Ri­ley Yates

Repub­li­can Vic­tor Scomil­lio and Demo­crat Abe Kas­sis will face off against John Mor­ganelli for two Northamp­ton County judge slots.

Two fa­mil­iar fig­ures in the Northamp­ton County le­gal world will face off in Novem­ber for an un­ex­pected open­ing for county judge.

Repub­li­can Vic­tor Scomil­lio and Demo­crat Abe Kas­sis won the nom­i­na­tion of their par­ties last week, set­ting the stage for a trun­cated race be­tween two lawyers who have run against each other be­fore for the county’s bench.

Kas­sis and Scomil­lio are seek­ing to re­place Judge F.P. Kimberly McFad­den, who sur­prised the court­house in Eas­ton last month when she an­nounced plans to step down af­ter 31 years. Be­cause of the tim­ing, that threw nom­i­na­tions for her seat into the hands of each party’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, which se­lected Kas­sis and Scomil­lio on Aug. 29 dur­ing sep­a­rate meet­ings.

Kas­sis, a long­time as­sis­tant district at­tor­ney, won lo­cal Democrats’ nod over four other hope­fuls: Eas­ton at­tor­ney Joshua Ful­mer, Al­len­town lawyer Con­stance Nel­son, District Judge Richard Yet­ter of Wil­son and District Judge Vi­vian Zu­mas of Hanover Town­ship. The vote was held at a Demo­cratic or­ga­niz­ing meet­ing at Northamp­ton Com­mu­nity Col­lege.

Matthew Mun­sey, the chair­man of the Northamp­ton County Demo­cratic Com­mit­tee wouldn’t give a break­down of the vote, but said Kas­sis col­lected a “clear ma­jor­ity” on the first bal­lot. Un­der the party’s rules, state Demo­cratic lead­ers must sign off on the nom­i­na­tion, a for­mal­ity ex­pected to be com­pleted this week, Mun­sey said.

Scomil­lio, a part­ner at the Beth­le­hem law firm Holzinger, Harak & Scomil­lio, was the only can­di­date for the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion. He was se­lected at a GOP com­mit­tee meet­ing at the Le­high Town­ship Vol­un­teer Fire Co. hall, ac­cord­ing to county Repub­li­can Chair­woman Lee Snover.

There are two open judge seats be­fore county vot­ers on Nov. 5. District At­tor­ney John Mor­ganelli, a Demo­crat, was run­ning un­op­posed to suc­ceed for­mer Judge Emil Gior­dano, and cap­tured the nom­i­na­tions of both par­ties dur­ing May’s pri­mary.

McFad­den’s re­tire­ment added a wrin­kle to the bal­lot. Ac­cord­ing to the Depart­ment of State, the two va­can­cies will be com­bined into one race, with vot­ers asked to pick their top two can­di­dates. That means Mor­ganelli must now com­pete against Kas­sis and Scomil­lio, though he’ll en­joy an ad­van­tage be­cause he has both par­ties’ nom­i­na­tions.

Scomil­lio and Kas­sis have been op­po­nents be­fore. Both ran for judge in 2015, when Kas­sis lost in the pri­mary and Scomil­lio was de­feated in the gen­eral elec­tion, when now-Judge Samuel Mur­ray cap­tured the seat.

On Wed­nes­day, the two men sought to high­light their con­trasts, while not­ing the tight time frame they have to rein­tro­duce them­selves to vot­ers.

“I be­lieve that I have a great deal of ex­pe­ri­ence as a trial at­tor­ney,” said Kas­sis, 52, of Beth­le­hem Town­ship, who has worked in the district at­tor­ney’s of­fice since 1999. “I be­lieve my ex­pe­ri­ence, es­pe­cially as a pros­e­cu­tor and the num­ber of jury tri­als I’ve had over the years, dis­tin­guishes me from Mr. Scomil­lio.”

Scomil­lio touted breadth of re­sume, say­ing he has prac­ticed in civil, fam­ily and crim­i­nal law. He served as a court-ap­pointed de­fense lawyer, as a law clerk and as the county’s chief so­lic­i­tor.

“I haven’t put my­self into one sub­ject mat­ter,” said Scomil­lio, 47, of Palmer Town­ship.

Judges are elected for 10-year terms and earned $183,184 this year. Northamp­ton County has a nine-mem­ber bench.

Morn­ing Call re­porter Ri­ley Yates can be reached at 610-2535751 or ri­[email protected]



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