Spahn wins first GOP straw polls for judge
BY DAN NEPHIN, Staff Writer
Merrill Spahn Jr. has won the first of six straw polls of area Republican committees to vet candidates for the county's single vacant judgeship.
Spahn, a partner with Spahn & Encarnacion and the county's deputy chief public defender, garnered 15 of 30 possible votes cast by Hempfield committee members and six of 15 votes by Penn Manor committee members in Thursday night's poll.
Defense lawyer Thomas B. Sponaugle finished second, with 10 votes from Hempfield members and five votes from Penn Manor members.
Christopher P. Larsen, the first assistant prosecutor in the district attorney's office, finished third with four votes from Hempfield members and four votes from Penn Manor members.
District Judge Jayne Duncan had one vote among Hempfield members and no votes from Penn Manor members.
Lancaster Township and Lancaster city committee members will vote in the next straw poll on Saturday. The straw polls lead up to the GOP's endorsement on Feb. 19.
On Jan. 14, the Lancaster Bar Association rated Spahn and Duncan "highly recommended" while Larsen and Sponaugle were "recommended."
The candidates are seeking the seat held by Judge Louis Farina, who turns 70 this year, making him ineligible to run for another 10-year term.
The county's newest judge will be seated in January 2014, joining 14 others, all Republicans.