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2 candidates for Common Pleas seats kick off campaigns

| Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, 9:19 p.m.

Two candidates for Allegheny County Common Pleas judge formally announced their election campaigns on Sunday, touching off what is expected to be a crowded race for four seats on the bench.

William F. Caye II, 45, of South Fayette, a senior deputy state attorney general assigned to the child predator unit, kicked off his campaign at the Boilermakers Local Union 154 hall on Banksville Road.

Downtown attorney Richard J. Schubert, 57, of Crafton Heights announced his campaign via email.

“I think it will be very competitive,” said Allegheny County Democratic Committee Chairwoman Nancy Mills. “If you go from announcement to announcement, you'll find all of the candidates are all very competent and competitive.”

The field has at least 11 other potential candidates, including Judges Bill Ward, a Republican, and Paul Cozza, a Democrat, who were appointed last year by Gov. Tom Corbett to fill vacancies. Both have to run if they want to keep their seats.

Mark Tranquilli, 45, an assistant Allegheny County district attorney from the South Hills, said he intends to run but won't make it official until after labor and county Democratic Party endorsements in March. District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. requires office employees to resign or take leave when they become candidates.

“ Depending on how I do with those endorsements, I fully intend to run for common pleas judge,” Tranquilli said.

Other potential candidates include lawyers Eleanor Bush, Marc Daffner, Jennifer Satler, Craig C. Stephens, P.J. Murray, Patrick Connelly, Joe Luvara and former Allegheny County solicitor Mike Wojcik.

In addition to deciding candidates for the four open seats, voters will determine whether five sitting judges will be retained: Lawrence J. O'Toole, Christine A. Ward, Ronald W. Folino, Kathleen R. Mulligan and John A. Zottola.

Common pleas judges serve 10-year terms and will be paid $173,271 in 2013. Candidates may run for both Democratic and Republican nominations in the May 21 primary. The top four finishers from each party advance to the November general election.

Caye and Schubert, both Democrats, said they would carry their courtroom experience onto the bench.

“I've been trying cases for 32 years,” Schubert said. “I have a lot of recognition and respect from my peers. A lot of the younger lawyers don't seem to demonstrate the camaraderie and civility that I experienced when I first went into practice. With my experience, I believe I can help to educate younger lawyers.”

Caye said he took a leave of absence from the Attorney General's Office in December. He promised about 150 friends, relatives and supporters at the Boilermakers hall that he would be a fair and responsible judge and “make sound decisions all the time.”

On hand were local elected officials, including Allegheny County Sheriff William P. Mullen and state Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil. Caye's father-in-law, former U.S. Rep. Joseph Gaydos, a Democrat, also attended.

“I believe in advocating for working families and judges make decisions that impact working families daily,” Caye said.

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312or bbauder@tribweb.com. Staff writerJeremy Boren contributed to this report.

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