Magistrate candidates vie for nomination

Campaign statements from the magisterial hopefuls

Posted 5/5/21

WAYNE COUNTY, PA — In Pennsylvania, magisterial district judges are considered “the frontline” of the commonwealth’s judicial system, the type of judge that residents are most …

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Magistrate candidates vie for nomination

Campaign statements from the magisterial hopefuls


WAYNE COUNTY, PA — In Pennsylvania, magisterial district judges are considered “the frontline” of the commonwealth’s judicial system, the type of judge that residents are most likely to come into contact with.

All three magistrate seats in Wayne County are up for election this year. Pennsylvania election law allows magisterial candidates to run on both the Republican and Democrat ballots in the May 18 primary. A candidate only needs to win the nomination from one party to advance to the General Election in November. However, it is possible for a candidate to win on both the Republican and Democratic lines.

River Reporter asked each candidate to submit the main message they want to send to voters ahead of the election:

District 22-3-01

Dreher, Hawley, Lake, Lehigh, Palmyra, Paupack, Salem and Sterling

Bonnie L. Carney (incumbent): Judge Bonnie L. Carney is seeking re-election to magisterial district court 22-3-01, serving Wayne County and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Judge Carney’s venue includes Hawley Borough and the townships of Palmyra, Paupack, Salem, Lake, Sterling, Dreher and Lehigh. 

In 2004, a life-long resident from her district, Carney brought her business experience, work ethic and genuine interest in serving her community to public service. Judge Carney pledges competent, courteous service and fair, impartial decisions. 

Carney serves on three Wayne County advisory boards, two special court judges association committees, is an active community volunteer and serves her church.

Carney and her husband, John, appreciate the interest that others have in Wayne County. They know first-hand what a great place it is to live, work, raise children, play and invest. 

Carney humbly requests that you consider her record of dedication and service worthy of your support on May 18.

John Langton: I’ve had two great passions in life, working with animals and working within the legal system. I’ve worked in Wayne County for over 21 years fulfilling those dreams. I started working at local farms at age 13, eventually becoming an accredited horse trainer and certified equine dentist. I’ve even “robbed” a train or two to help support the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce with my fellow Cowboys and Cowgirls. 

After graduation from Wallenpaupack High School, I attained legal degrees, including paralegal studies and elder law. I’ve put these to use in the Wayne County District Attorney’s Office, where I’ve served as a clerk, victim-witness coordinator and interim chief clerk.

I have a strong desire to work for the people of Wayne County and to make a difference in my community—to be fair and just, yet understanding and compassionate. I have the experience, drive and passion to make Wayne County a better place, both now and well into the future.

District 22-3-02

Canaan, Cherry Ridge, Honesdale, Prompton, South Canaan, Texas, Waymart

Kay Bates: Kay Bates is running for district magistrate. Her district includes Canaan, Cherry Ridge, Honesdale Borough, Prompton Borough, South Canaan, Texas Township and Waymart Borough. She is married to Bob Bates, the local building inspector, and they have four grown children. Kay Bates graduated from Honesdale High School in 1979 and obtained a BA in social work, currently working as a crisis clinician. In 2018, Bates passed the magistrate certification test. Bates has an ongoing working relationship with the PA State Police and the Honesdale Borough Police Department. She has extensive experience working with people who are not having their best day. Bates is well-versed with area resources and can network individuals toward the helping and healing needed to get their life back on track. Bates’s driving ambition is to see those found at fault to not re-offend in the future. She would like your vote on Tuesday, May 18.

Linus H. Myers (incumbent): On May 18, I am seeking re-election as magisterial district judge in District 22-3-02 serving Honesdale, Waymart and Prompton boroughs and Cherry Ridge, Canaan, South Canaan and Texas townships. I believe I have performed the duties of my office impartially, competently and diligently. I strive to ensure all participants who come before me are treated with respect, patience and dignity. I am committed to making sure all participants have their day in court and are not rushed or cut short and have ample opportunity to present their positions fully. I am respectfully requesting your vote on May 18.

District 22-3-04

Berlin, Bethany, Buckingham, Clinton, Damascus, Dyberry, Lebanon, Manchester, Mount Pleasant, Oregon, Preston, Scott, Starrucca

Lothar C. Holbert: Lothar Holbert grew up in northern Wayne County. He worked his way through college, then served in the U.S. Army for six years, including four years overseas. Later he joined the Army National Guard for 22 years. He has been an attorney for 30 years. Holbert maintained a law office in Honesdale and then Lakewood, where he had a real estate office. 

Holbert helped found several community organizations, including the Lakewood Library and the Wayne County Library Alliance. Serving in leadership positions—as an Army officer for 28 years, on many local organization boards, as a Boy Scout scoutmaster, as well as being a lawyer for 30 years—provided him with tremendous experience.   

He served his country and his community, and now, he would like to serve you as your new district magistrate. He believes that his service and experience make him the best qualified candidate to serve you.

Sean LeStrange: I was born and raised in Wayne County, served as a police officer in local law enforcement for Honesdale Borough, which is the county seat. I always enjoyed connecting with, helping and protecting the people in the community and assisting other first responders such as fire departments and EMS personnel. I studied criminal justice at Lackawanna College and had the opportunity to interact with the various district magistrates on a regular basis while conducting police work such as filing criminal charges, obtaining search warrants and arrest warrants, and testifying in hearings and trials. I took an early retirement from police work in 2015 at the rank of sergeant detective to help the borough with its budget. I have been owner/operator for several years of a painting-home improvement contracting business serving many residential and commercial customers throughout all of Wayne County. If elected, I would bring my public servant experience, criminal justice education and business experience to the position and humbly serve as a full-time district magistrate. 

Michael J. Farley: Michael J. Farley, Esq. is running for magisterial district judge to continue his legacy of service to Wayne County. As a three-tour combat veteran, he is prepared for the rigors of duty. A former Waymart Borough councilman, Farley also possesses the administrative skillset needed to fulfill the role of district judge. Farley’s substantial magisterial court experience and tenure as a Wayne County Arbitration Panel member, deciding civil cases up to $50,000, set him apart as a candidate with not just related experience but also direct experience. Farley’s practice with Nicholas A. Barna, Esq. (Barna Law) has provided him with a comprehensive foundation in magisterial court matters. From petty criminal offenses, arraignments and DUI to breach of contract and landlord-tenant matters, Farley has practiced all types of magisterial law. Lastly, Farley is young enough to hold the position for the long term, not just as a capstone to a career.

Danene “Dani” VanHorn: I have worked in law enforcement as a sheriff’s deputy for Wayne County for the past 23 years. What strikes me most about my job working with the sheriff’s department is having the ability to have a positive impact on someone’s life.

I have the desire and sense of duty to work for the citizens of Wayne County no matter what their circumstances—to be fair and impartial but stern when called upon, while also being understanding and compassionate when necessary. I have the experience and drive to make Wayne County a better and safer place, now and going forward.

I have the magisterial certification required to fill the position. I will work for the people of Wayne County with care and respect.

Jonathan J. Dunsinger: I am extremely familiar with the court system in Wayne County, having worked in the probation department for 23 years. In this time, I established excellent working relationships with our local police, prosecutors, defense attorneys and treatment providers, and I have dedicated my career to help keep our community safe. My decades of hands-on experience in the court system will provide me with a solid foundation to be the dedicated, fair and impartial magisterial district judge our community deserves.

If elected, I will be a full-time magisterial district judge and will not hold any other employment. Serving the residents of northern Wayne County will be my top priority. I humbly ask for your vote on May 18.

Kerin Podunajec: Voters have an opportunity to decide whether a decision in magisterial district court will be made by someone with or without equal or better knowledge and education as the person presenting the case. I am an attorney and, for six years, I have worked within the Wayne County Court of Common Pleas as a law clerk. My experience as a law clerk provided me with an opportunity to view the justice system from the perspective of a judge. I want to help promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of our courts by upholding the law as it is written, which requires proper interpretation and application of law. My legal background and experience have prepared me for this responsibility. As a young mother and lifelong resident of Wayne County, I am eager to serve my community doing something I have developed a passion for.

Jimmy Johnson: My name is Jimmy Johnson and I am running for magisterial district judge here in Northern Wayne County. I have been a Pleasant Mount resident for well over a decade. I moved to northern Wayne County because it is a fantastic area to live in and raise a family. I am an active law enforcement officer with over 25 years’ experience in both criminal and civil law. I currently work as a police officer and deputy sheriff. Anyone appearing in front of me will have the right to be heard, have a fair hearing and be treated with respect. If elected, I will be a full-time magisterial district judge serving our community. I humbly ask for your support and vote on May 18. Please visit the Committee to Elect Jimmy Johnson on Facebook or to learn more about me.

magisterial district magistrate, candidates, election, may 18, primary


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