LIMERICK >> An open seat for district judge in Limerick Township has two opponents ready and willing to fill it.
Richard Welsh, 48, and James Crawford, 52, both have their eyes on a seat as a district justice that will become vacant following current judge Walter F. Gadzicki’s retirement.
District court 38-1-19, located in Limerick Township, includes Limerick, part of Upper Providence and Royersford borough.
Welsh said Wednesday that the main reason he decided to run was that he felt someone with law experience should hold the seat.
“Whenever possible, an attorney should hold the seat of district justice in a community,” said Welsh. “I’m running because from past experience, when I was practicing law, I found that it was easier to present a case before a judge that was an attorney just because of their knowledge of the law. It allows for the hearings to go smoother. The experience you get from law school better prepares someone to do the job.”
Originally from Philadelphia, Welsh attended high school at William Penn Charter School and continued his education at American University in Washington, D.C., where he graduated with a bachelor of science degree in finance in 1990. Welsh later obtained his law degree from Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pa and went on to serve as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia under Lynne Abraham. In 2000 he joined the law firm Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin in Blue Bell, practicing real estate and municipal law. He then worked for the law offices of Robert A . Stutman in Fort Washington and left in 2009 to open Barrister’s Bagel Company in Royersford.
“When I was approached and asked to run, I seized the opportunity because my experience and education would lend itself to that performance,” Welsh added.
Crawford, who has spent 32 years as a law enforcement officer, believes his experience will also be useful if elected and says he ran so that he can continue to be a public servant.
“The judge job is a common man’s position. It’s the one where you do not have to be a lawyer. Our legislators designed the judge position to be the only position where you don’t have to have a law degree. It’s a community position,” said Crawford.
Crawford, a 20-year resident of the Limerick and Spring-Ford area, started his law enforcement career at the age of 18, working for West Conshohocken Police and began working as an officer for Lower Providence Police in 1985. Throughout his career he also attended the State Police Academy where he was given the American Legion Award. Additionally, Crawford says he has held every position available within a police department.
“I am a decorated, common sense law enforcement veteran,” said Crawford. “I have 32 years experience in and out of the courtroom. I’ve never turned away from law enforcement from all that time. I think I’m up to date on all the case laws, whereas someone who hasn’t practiced would not be up to date on those issues.”
Crawford added on Thursday that he hopes to implement a night court if elected to the position.
“I’m looking to introduce night court, which I think will help our citizens which will save them time and money. I’m also committed to being a full time judge with no other obligations such as businesses etc.,” said Crawford.
In order to run for a position as district justice, a candidate must be a local resident for at least one year, be no younger than 21 and no older than 70. Candidates must be a state bar member or complete a training course and pass an exam upon election if they are not a bar member.