The January meeting of the Democrat Women of Mercer County was all about the Pennsylvania Judiciary. Five candidates for Pa.'s appellate courts introduced themselves, and an alarm was raised about HB 38, an effort by legislators to introduce gerrymandering into how we elect judges.

Pennsylvania's appellate judges preside over appeals brought from all over the state, and they are chosen in statewide elections. Republicans in the state legislature are trying to change the constitution to create voting districts for the appellate courts. If they succeed in gerrymandering the judiciary, whichever party is in power would draw district lines to favor their chosen candidates.

A bill to put the issue on the May 18th primary ballot, HB 38, will be voted on soon, and many organizations, including the non-partisan League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and Fair Districts PA, are working to oppose it. The Women's Law Project produced a video that explains what HB 38 would do and how it would undermine constitutional checks and balances among our branches of state government:

DWMC members were asked to contact their state representatives to oppose HB 38.

This November, voters will elect four judges to the Commonwealth Court, three judges to the Superior Court, and one judge to the Supreme Court. The candidates for those seats will be chosen in the primary election on May 18. A few of them spoke via Zoom to plead their cases.

Amanda Green Hawkins, running for Commonwealth Court, is a lawyer with United Steelworkers. She was twice elected to Allegheny County Council and focused her legal career defending working families. Visit to learn more.

Judge David Spurgeon, another candidate for Commonwealth Court, has served on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas since 2016. In the Family Division, he handles matters involving children and families and is recognized as a national expert on domestic violence. Learn more at

Jill Beck, an experienced lawyer running for Superior Court Judge, has built her career advocating for children in Allegheny County. Go to to learn about her accomplishments and qualifications.

Common Pleas Court Judge Tamika Lake is also running for Superior Court. She presides over the Major Trials program in the Criminal Division, chairs various committees, and still finds time to visit high schools to teach civics. Get to know her at

Judge Maria McLaughlin visited all 67 Pennsylvania counties when she successfully ran for Superior Court in 2017, and she will do the same this year in her run for Supreme Court. Learn about her career at

There will be an important local election this year, as well. Hermitage voters will elect a new Commissioner. Brian Skibo, a Hermitage native with deep roots in the small business community, announced his candidacy. Learn about his vision for Hermitage at

The next DWMC meeting is 10 a.m. on Feb. 13. Email to get a link to the Zoom session.

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