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Judicial candidates

Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas Judge candidates from left to right are Derek Clepper, Lisa Grayson, Matt Smith and Ronald Tomasko.

Five candidates are looking to fill two open seats on the Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas.

Four of the candidates are cross-filed and will appear on both ballots. One candidate will only appear on the Republican ballot.

Here are the other candidates for county judge:

Derek Clepper

Clepper

Derek Clepper

Age: 43

Political Party: Republican (on Republican ballot only)

Residence: South Middleton

Education: Boiling Springs High School; bachelor’s in government from Shippensburg University; juris doctor from Dickinson School of Law of Penn State University

Occupation: Lawyer and professor

What would you bring as a judge to the Court of Common Pleas?

“In one word, experience.

“I have the most experience of all of the candidates running for this office. For more than 15 years, I have personally handled over 10,000 civil cases and tried over 50 criminal jury trials.

“My experience has taught me that a successful judge must treat every case individually. The decisions made by the court have an impact not only on the parties involved, but also the community at large.

“I am not a politician. I have not sought any endorsements, received any financial contributions, or used any political benefits like cross-filing. My goal is to serve the citizens of Cumberland County as the next judge of the Court of Common Pleas.”

Lisa Grayson

Grayson

Lisa Grayson

Age: 52

Political Party: Republican

Residence: North Middleton Township

Education: Penn State University (1993); Dickinson School of Law (1996); U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General (JAG) School (2000); Air War College (2015)

Occupation: Attorney for 23 years; county Register of Wills & Clerk of Orphans Court for six years; JAG in the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard for 19 years

Endorsements: Cumberland County Bar Association, Firearms Owners Against Crime, Carlisle Area Democratic Committee, RJ Harris

What would you bring as a judge to the Court of Common Pleas?

“I have spent my adult life serving our nation and those in need. Being elected judge will allow me to continue to serve my community and bring together my experience and passion to help those most vulnerable.

“As a proud mom of three amazing children, I know how important families are. It’s time we elect a judge who will focus on families dealing with divorce, custody, abuse and adoption, as well as the ever-growing population of aging and disabled adults who are facing the need for guardianship.

“I have witnessed first-hand the devastating effects of combat on our veterans, and some end up in the criminal justice system. Veterans courts provide veterans with services and support they need and have a 75% success rate.

“We owe it to our most vulnerable, our families, and our veterans to bring these tools to Cumberland County. In my courtroom, they will come first!”

Matt Smith

Smith

Matt Smith

Age: 46

Political Party: Republican

Residence: Camp Hill Borough

Education: Bachelor’s in policy studies at Dickinson College; juris doctor from Dickinson School of Law

Occupation: First district attorney in the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office

Endorsements: Fraternal Order of Police, Pennsylvania State Police, Keystone Lodge #41; Fraternal Order of Police, Municipal Law Enforcement, Tri-County Lodge #76; Cumberland County Republican Committee

What would you bring as a judge to the Court of Common Pleas?

“I would bring a sense of service to the bench. My campaign is not about personal aspirations, but rather a logical continuation of my commitment to serve. I have served 23 years in the military and 17 years in the district attorney’s office. I have always been focused on serving my community and my country.

“I have conducted over 640 trials of all types, to include jury, non-jury, civil and military hearings, handling everything from misdemeanors to homicide. I have briefed and/or argued in front of Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth, Superior and Supreme Courts, and in the U.S. Middle District and Third Circuit Court of Appeals. My extensive courtroom experience has given me a thorough understanding of how a courtroom should be managed and what all parties need from a judge. I’ve made the most difficult decisions, in the most challenging cases; my judgment and sound application of the law are proven.”

Kirk Sohonage

Kirk Sohonage

Kirk Sohonage

Age: 50

Political Party: Republican

Residence: Camp Hill Borough

Education: JD, University of Denver Sturm College of Law. BA, Washington and Lee University.

Occupation: Owner of private practice law firm representing seniors and ensuring their healthcare right; former prosecutor; Chairman of Camp Hill Zoning Board; Solicitor to Orphans’ Court and Prothonotary

Endorsements: Cumberland County Republican Committee, Senator Mike Regan, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 41, State Rep. Greg Rothman, Attorney General LeRoy Zimmerman

What would you bring as a judge to the Court of Common Pleas?

"If I’ve learned on thing in my career, it’s that experience matters. I will bring the most experience to our county court. First, as a former prosecutor, I have tried violent criminals to verdicts and protected our community. As a domestic violence prosecutor, I focused on protecting women and children.

"Now, as a private attorney, I protect the interests of seniors and ensures coverage for their long-term health care. With more than 18 collective years as solicitor to the Cumberland County Orphans' Court and Civil Court, I have written opinions and rules of court, as well as having provided legal advice to elected officials. I have the experience, integrity and character that our next judge needs. I’d be honored to have your vote on May 21."

Ronald Tomasko

Tomasko

Ronald Thomas Tomasko

Age: 54

Political Party: Republican

Residence: Upper Allen Township

Education: Bachelor’s in pre-law from Penn State; juris doctor from University of Pittsburgh School of Law

Endorsements: Jason E. Kelso, Esquire (Carlisle); Edward H. Jordan Jr., Esquire (Mechanicsburg); Brian P. Downey, Esquire (Mechanicsburg); Brian C. Kennedy (Camp Hill); Ernie Zimmerman (Mechanicsburg).

What would you bring as a judge to the court of Common Pleas?

“My experience sets me apart as it relates directly to the work performed by Court of Common Pleas judges each day. I have substantial trial experience in the types of cases that impact our lives: insurance disputes for home and auto, and small business and employment-related disputes. My work as a municipal solicitor has allowed me to become well versed in zoning and land use matters. These types of cases are of great importance to our county, which is the fastest growing county in the Commonwealth. Finally, my trial work has earned me the position of being a specially appointed prosecutor for certain criminal matters. No other candidate in this race has this broad legal experience.

“I strongly believe that a practical and fresh perspective from the bench would benefit our county. I will be a judge that all our county can be proud of, and I will serve with honestly, excellence and integrity.”

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