Matika sweeps to victory
Ron Gower/TIMES NEWS Newly-elected Carbon County Judge Joseph Matika with his wife, Jeanine, during a victory celebration at their Lehighton residence last evening. Attorney Matika will fill the vacancy created by the death of Judge David W. Addy, who died at the age of 52 on Dec. 17, 2009, just four years after he was elected to the bench.
The issue of who will serve as Carbon County's newest judge was resolved Tuesday.
Attorney Joseph Matika of Lehighton won on both the Democrat and Republican ballots over opponent attorney James Lavelle of East Penn Township.
Had voters split the votes by party, then the judgeship wouldn't have been decided until November. Both candidates cross-filed.
Both are assistants to District Attorney Gary Dobias.
Matika, of the Summit Hill law firm Velitsky and Matika, isn't scheduled to be sworn-in as judge until January.
However, this could be expedited if the state Senate and governor choose to confirm him.
He was elected to fill the vacancy created by the death of Judge David W. Addy, on Dec. 17, 2009, at the age of 52. Addy had been elected judge in November 2005 and sworn-in on Jan. 4, 2006.
Retired Judge Richard Webb, now a senior jurist for the commonwealth, has been handling Addy's workload.
On the Republican side, Matika defeated Lavelle by 421 votes in unofficial tallies: 2309 to 1888.
Democrats were kinder to Matika, giving him a victory by 1,153 votes: 3,652 to 2,499.
This was the first time either candidate sought to be judge.
Lavelle is the son of retired Carbon County Judge John Lavelle and Marianne Lavelle, also an attorney, of Lehighton.
"I am very humbled by the support of the voters," Matika said during a victory party at his residence last night.
"I am very much appreciative of my friends and my family and everyone else who helped me and guided me through this election process. This is kind of bittersweet, only because I'm replacing a good friend of mine on the bench, David Addy. His passing created this vacancy. I am grateful for the opportunity to fill this seat."
Matika is married to the former Jeanine Lee Erdman, a native of Weatherly. He is the father of three children, Alex, 18; Ally, 11, and Mia, 2.
He is the son of Joseph and Patricia (Leonzi) Matika of Summit Hill.
He graduated from King's College in Wilkes-Barre and the University of Bridgeport School of Law in Connecticut.
The new judge is the former chairman of the board of directors of St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital, Coaldale, and former adjunct professor at Lehigh-Carbon Community College.
He serves as solicitor to Summit Hill Borough, Rush Township Zoning 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.
He said that as a practicing civil attorney, he represented more than 3,000 clients, including over 1,000 in 10 county courts throughout Pennsylvania, along with both the Middle and Eastern Districts of Pennsylvania (federal court).
As an assistant district attorney, he has prosecuted more than 1,000 adult and juvenile offenders.