Carbon County voters will have the chance to make their choice known with regard to who they want to serve on the Court of Common Pleas when the county's Primary Election is held on Tuesday, May 17, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in each of the 51 election districts.
The voters are scheduled to elect a third judge for a 10-year term.
There are two candidates, James Lavelle and Joseph Matika.
The candidates have many similarities.
Both lawyers hail from the Lehighton area; they are both Democrats; they each have cross-filed petitions to appear on both the Democratic and Republican ballots; and the two of them are assistant district attorneys.
The winner of the 2011 race will succeed the late Judge David Addy on the bench.
The latter passed away in 2009, just four years after being sworn in as a jurist.
The successor will join president Judge Roger Nanovic and Judge Stephen Serfass in presiding over the court.
In the interim, since Addy's passing, Retired Judge Richard Webb, now a senior jurist for the commonwealth, has been handling Addy's workload.
Voters in each party will nominate either Lavelle or Matika to represent their ticket in the November General Election.
Obviously, if either candidate wins both nominations, he will be the likely winner of the term.
Lavelle is a resident of East Penn Township. He has been an assistant district attorney since 2006 and is a member of the Law Offices of Shutack and Lavelle, Lehighton.
He is currently solicitor for the Lehighton Sewerage Authority.
He is also solicitor for the Normal Square Chapel Association in Mahoning Township.
Born in Lehighton, he is the son of Marianne Shutack Lavelle and retired Judge John P. Lavelle, who presided over the Carbon County Court for 22 years before his retirement in 2000.
Candidate Lavelle attended Marian Catholic High School and is a 1991 graduate of Tufts University, Medford, Mass., where he majored in English.
He went on to study in English at New York University and graduated from Villanova University School of Law in 2002.
During his years at Villanova, he served as law clerk to the Honorable Thomas G. Gavin, Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County. Before entering law school, Lavelle worked for the Crime and Justice Research Institute in Philadelphia.
He is married to Elizabeth Lavelle, an emergency room nurse for Blue Mountain Health System at both the Gnaden Huetten and Palmerton campuses.
Matika is a resident of Lehighton.
He has been an assistant district attorney for the past 17 years and is a member of the law firm of Velitsky and Matika, Summit Hill.
He is the current solicitor of Summit Hill Borough, Rush Township Zong Hearing Board, Walker Township Zoning Hearing Board, Schuylkill Township Zoning Hearing Board, Tamaqua Zoning Hearing Board, Carbon County Solid Waste Management and Carbon County Farmland Preservation Agency.
A son of Joseph and Patricia (Leonzi) Matika of Summit Hill, he is a graduate of Panther Valley High School, King's College, Wilkes-Barre, and the University of Bridgeport School of Law, Bridgeport, Conn.
He is married to the former Jeanine Lee Erdman. He is the father of four children, Adam, Alex, Ally and Mia.