Two Windber men are running for the district judge seat that has been vacant since Judge Joseph Cannoni announced his retirement last year.
Bill Telek and Bill Seger have both cross-filed for the race, meaning their names will appear on both the Republican and Democratic ballots.
“I don’t consider myself a party person,” Telek said. “I’m for the people.”
He is the son of the late William Telek, who was a local state representative from 1979 until his death in 1988. Telek, 56, is a senior construction inspector for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.
He ran unsuccessfully for the House of Representatives in 2002 and 2004 and for Somerset County commissioner in 1990. He had considered running for district judge in 1988, but decided against it because of his friendship with Cannoni.
Telek said people should be treated fairly.
“I think people need to be treated fairly and I will do that,” he said. “If they need a break and I can do it within the scope of my power, I will. Police pick on some kids and they need a mediator. Everyone deserves a fair shake. If people have a problem, they will know that my door is always open.”
Telek, who is not an attorney, said that he will go through the certification process to become a district judge, which consists of classes and a test, if elected.
“I do know the law,” he said. “Once I’m elected I’ll get certified.”
Telek said he believes the voters want one of their peers, not an attorney, to hold the seat.
“I think they want somebody they can go to that is like them,” he said.
Telek said if elected he would make the office his full-time priority, even through district judge is not a full-time position. He said he hopes to win both the Republican and Democratic nominations in the primary.
“That’s the plan,” he said.
Seger, an attorney in Somerset, said he is running because he is ready to serve on the other side of the bench.
Seger, 52, decided he wanted to run for the seat after Cannoni announced his retirement. Seger said he waited to make a formal announcement because he was watching to see if the Somerset County redistricting plan was approved by the court last month. Seger ran for Somerset County district attorney in 2007.
“When I ran for district attorney, I had to cover the entire county,” he said. “It is a relief to focus on the municipalities I’ll be representing.”
Seger said he has been a practicing attorney for 26 years and has tried cases in front of all of the courts of the commonwealth. He said he has experience in the types of cases that are handled in district court.
“I will be fair and impartial and will judge every case on its merits,” he said. “That is what you want your judge to do.”
Seger said he would like to win both party nominations in the spring primary.
“I would like to wrap this up in the primary,” he said. “Hopefully the voters agree with that.”
The primary is May 21. The district will include Benson, Central City, Hooversville, Paint and Windber boroughs and Ogle, Paint and Shade townships under the new maps.