4 candidates seek party nominations for Westmoreland Register of Wills
Westmoreland County voters have to decide between two candidates on each the Republican and Democratic tickets for the Register of Wills office.
Republican incumbent Sherry Magretti Hamilton, 42, of Hempfield is being challenged by former employee Kimberly Horrell, 54, of Greensburg.
The Democratic ticket features Register of Wills deputy clerk Katie Pecarchik, 51, of Hempfield and Susan Vosefski, 58, of Unity, a political newcomer and law office and estate administration coordinator.
The row office handles filing and docketing of actions in Orphans’ Court, including estates, guardianship, marriage licenses and adoptions. The office is the central location for century-old birth and death records.
Voters will nominate a candidate from each party to run in the November election for a four-year term.
Magretti Hamilton is seeking her second term heading the office. Prior to being elected in 2015, she served as the office’s chief deputy and as a Hempfield supervisor. Magretti Hamilton is involved with developing a guardianship tracking system through the state courts administrative office and has taught courses to area lawyers on matters handled through Orphans’ Court.
“My office is consistently under budget, we are self-sustaining and contribute a surplus to the county’s general fund each year,” she said.
Magretti Hamilton was appointed to serve on Elder Abuse Task Force and the Statewide Joint Application Design Committee for the development of the Guardianship Tracking System with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. She also is active in the Register of Wills and Clerk of Orphans’ Court Association of Pennsylvania.
As a lawyer, Magretti Hamilton said she is positioned to apply the law, as needed, to situations her office handles. During her tenure, Magretti Hamilton said marriage records have been digitized from microfilm and estate records are being made available online.
Horrell said she hopes to educate the community on the function of the office and connect with agencies and businesses, such as funeral directors and bridal shops, to better inform those who would use the services. Horrell was a deputy clerk in the office for two years and, if elected, said she would move extended office hours until 6 p.m. from Tuesday to Thursday to align with the prothonotary’s later schedule.
“If elected, I plan on engaging with the staff to acquire the information needed for outreach events as well as cross training, which I feel is very valuable to the office and employees,” she said. “Additionally, I would like to develop contacts with the Westmoreland County Bar Association to obtain feedback and be open to ideas that can be accommodating of the office.”
Horrell said she plans to seek two terms, if elected.
Pecarchik has worked in the register’s office for 16 years and said, if elected, she plans to cross-train employees to be able to perform all duties. Pecarchik said she has gained insight during her experience in the office and plans to combine her experience and knowledge with a strong work ethic to bring about “higher standards and improved accuracy.”
“I will be a full-time Register of Wills, working along with the staff, to ensure consistency, accuracy and organization of the office,” Pecarchik said. “I will also encourage new ideas, making the office more efficient and more user friendly.”
Vosefski said she can be the newcomer the office needs, given the apparent discord with a current and former employee challenging the incumbent. She pointed to her experience at Williams Law Office in Greensburg as evidence she would be able to identify weaknesses in the office and make any necessary changes.
“With my 20 years of experience in management and 15 years of experience in estate administration, combined with my work ethic, common sense, compassion and my desire to serve the county and its citizens to the best of my ability, I believe I am the fresh face that the voters are looking for,” Vosefski said.
The Register of Wills earns about $75,000 a year.
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, [email protected] or via Twitter .