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Rep. candidate withdraws after DUI charge

  • Barton
Published March 26. 2014 11:52AM

A state representative candidate who is facing DUI charges is withdrawing from the upcoming race.

This morning, James A. Barton of Orwigsburg, a Republican candidate for the 124th legislative district, announced that he will be withdrawing his name from the ballot for the primary election.

He was challenging longtime state Rep. Jerry Knowles, a fellow Republican.

"It is with sadness that I announce today that I have officially removed my name from the ballot for the upcoming primary election for the House of Representatives' 124th district," Barton said.

"The controversy surrounding my car accident has and will continue to be a distraction through the primary election.

"It will be extremely difficult to focus my time and energy on pursuing the core issues that are at the heart of my campaign with all the outside noise. It's imperative for the health of our great state that taxpayers are able to focus on issues, as opposed to outside distractions," he continued.

"As a professional courtesy, I personally called Rep. Knowles and shared with him my decision to withdrawal from the race. To all of those who have supported this cause and my efforts, I'm disappointed I couldn't fulfill my goal. Your belief in a better Pennsylvania is something we hold true and remains important. I hope as a business man and community leader in the private sector, I'm able to continue to fight for the values we hold so dear."

Knowles said Wednesday afternoon, “I certainly understand and respect his decision, and I wish him well.”

The charges against Barton stem from a Feb. 24 crash along Red Dale Road in West Brunswick Township, where Barton lost control of his sport utility vehicle and struck a utility pole after going up an embankment. It then struck a tree before coming to rest across both lanes of the roadway.

On March 3, state trooper Stephen D. Kleeman of the Schuylkill Haven barracks charged Barton with driving under the influence of alcohol, disregarding traffic lanes, failing to drive at a safe speed and careless driving during that crash.

Charges against Barton were dismissed on March 18 by District Judge James Ferrier of Orwigsburg because police did not provide sufficient evidence that Barton had consumed enough alcohol to impair his driving to send the charges to court.

Three days later, Schuylkill County District Attorney Christine Holman refiled the DUI and unsafe driving charges because Barton had refused a blood alcohol test after the crash, meaning that there were no blood alcohol content levels to consider at the preliminary hearing.

According to state law, refusal to take a blood alcohol test results in an automatic one-year license suspension.

Ferrier has recused himself from the case, and the refiled charges will be brought before a different district judge.


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