Westmoreland Register of Wills race pits office holder against longtime office worker | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Westmoreland Register of Wills race pits office holder against longtime office worker

Renatta Signorini
1855781_web1_gtr-Magretti-Hamilton
Submitted
Sherry Magretti Hamilton
1855781_web1_Katie-Pecarchik
Submitted
Katie Pecarchik

The race for Westmoreland County register of wills pits the incumbent against one of the office’s longtime staff members.

Democrat Katie Pecarchik, 51, is challenging Sherry Magretti Hamilton, 42, a Republican who is in her first four-year term.

Pecarchik, a Hempfield resident, questions how much time Magretti Hamilton spends at the courthouse row office. Workers there handle the 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.

Pecarchik filed a Right-to-Know request in September with Westmoreland County seeking “daily entry time logs” for Magretti Hamilton, also of Hempfield, during the last four years. Those records don’t exist.

“I believe that the row officers, they are elected to do a job and paid to do a job, they should be there full time,” Pecarchik said. “She is not there every day.”

Magretti Hamilton said employees who are paid a salary don’t have to file a time log. She has come into the courthouse on off hours to help get records for residents and last-minute marriage licenses. The register of wills earns about $75,000 annually.

“Being an elected official is not a 9-to-5 job,” she said. “It’s a job that you’re on the job 365 days a year, all day.”

Magretti Hamilton touted her improvements to the office and pointed to her expertise as a lawyer as reasons she should be reelected.

“The register of wills is actually a quasi-judicial position,” she said.

Magretti Hamilton sometimes has to preside over hearings or make a decision about a will or estate. She thinks it’s important to have the post filled by someone who understands the legal process.

During her first term, estate records were put online and marriage records on microfilm were digitized, making them easily searchable. Those improvements have made it easier for office staff to take some services outside of the courthouse into the community, for example to help residents obtain a Real ID, she said.

Magretti Hamilton, who previously worked as the office’s chief deputy, was involved with creating a statewide system for judges to track guardianship cases.

Pecarchik, who has worked in the office for 16 years, thinks there are still improvements that can be made. She wants to make certain public records available online in their entirety for free. Pecarchik said there should be enough income through $10 automation fees that are already charged to people filing documents with the office to offset any losses.

“There’s not a whole lot online that people can see right now,” she said.

Pecarchik is qualified to perform every function of the office, she said.

“At some point in your life, you will need our office,” she said. “You need a register of wills who is going to be there for you, and I am that person.”

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Westmoreland
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.