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Judge puts candidate back on May 17 ballot

| Saturday, April 30, 2005

HARRISBURG -- A Commonwealth Court judge on Friday put magistrate candidate Constance Rankin back on the May 17 primary ballot.

Senior Judge Barry Feudale reversed an order of Allegheny County Common Pleas Court that removed Rankin from the ballot in the contest to replace Bellevue District Judge Donald Presutti. Presutti, 58, will step down after completing his fifth term on the bench. There are five other candidates.

Rankin had been removed from the ballot on the Democratic and Republican tickets because she listed "attorney/publisher" on some of her nominating petitions.

Common Pleas Judge Joseph James said Rankin had been on inactive status as an attorney since December 2003.

Rankin, who lives in Bellevue, is publisher of The Citizen weekly newspaper.

During the proceeding in Allegheny County, Rankin said she was still an attorney, though she was no longer admitted to practice law.

The challenge to her candidacy had been filed by John T. Connors, Susan Abramowich and Elizabeth Radcliffe.

Feudale said the lower court's finding that Rankin knowingly falsified papers with an intent to deceive was "not supported by substantial evidence" in the record.

The other candidates are:

  • Patricia L. Blais, North Sprague Avenue, Bellevue, attorney

  • Marge Conely, Perrysville Avenue, Bellevue, real estate agent

  • Paul Cusick, North Bryant Avenue, Bellevue, mayor

  • James Hirsch, Broadbent Road, Ohio Township, deputy sheriff

  • Tara Smith, Breading Avenue, Ben Avon, medical lab manager

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