Stedman and Paulson

Craig Stedman, left, Greg Paulson, right

The two candidates running for a seat on the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas will square off this week in their first and only appearance together before the Nov. 5 election.

Republican Craig Stedman and Democrat Greg Paulson will take questions from LNP’s editorial board at 7 p.m. tonight. The meeting will be broadcast live on LancasterOnline and be available for replay.

Stedman, 55, Lancaster County's district attorney for the past 12 years, is endorsed by the Republican Committee of Lancaster County and has been rated “highly recommended” by the Lancaster Bar Association.

Paulson, 73, is a private attorney and serves as state Rep. Mike Sturla's district chief of staff. Paulson ran as a write-in candidate in the May primary and had not announced his candidacy at the time the Lancaster Bar was rating candidates earlier this year.

Paulson sought a local judgeship in 1991. At the time, a Lancaster Bar Association review found him to be “qualified” for the position, though not “well qualified.” In 1990, a judicial screening panel found him to be “well qualified.”

LNP had initially planned to hold a public forum with the two candidates Wednesday evening at Lancaster Bible College, but Paulson withdrew from the event. The forum was later canceled.

Paulson said in a letter to LNP that the college “has a reputation for not being friendly or accepting of the LGBT community.”

Paulson said he was referencing the college’s 2016 move, citing religious convictions on sexuality, to obtain an exemption from a federal law banning discrimination in education. President Peter Teague said in a letter at the time that complying fully with Title IX would “curtail the College’s freedom to respond to gender dysphoria and homosexual behavior.”

LGBT activists criticized the college, saying an exemption would give it the right to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. Lancaster Bible College does not make accommodations for gay, bisexual or transgender students.

Stedman agreed to participate at the Bible College forum, with or without Paulson. Mike Barley, a spokesman for Stedman’s campaign, said his candidate was running for judge to “ensure politics and bias stay out of our courts and that decisions will be based on the facts and the law regardless of a person's faith or beliefs.”

The newspaper sought comment from Lancaster Bible College but did not receive a response by deadline.