Only one candidate's name will be printed on the May 17 primary ballots for Lancaster County Common Pleas judge - that of Leonard G. Brown III.

But it might be a different story in November.

The county Democratic Party will run a write-in campaign for Lancaster attorney Samuel M. Mecum, who in past campaigns has been "highly recommended" for the local judiciary by his peers in the Lancaster Bar Association.

"So long as we have a two-party system, people should be at least offered an alternative, a choice," Mecum said.

Mecum, 62, of Manheim Township, has been in private practice since 1974 and is a graduate of Penn State University and Villanova Law School.

He is a past president of the Lancaster Bar Association and a partner in the firm of Reese, Samley, Wagenseller & Mecum.

Mecum said he is not running the write-in campaign; the party is.

"The Democrats would like to have a candidate, and I will not prevent people from writing me in," he said.

Brown, a registered Republican from Bart Township, is a West Point graduate and civil litigator with the firm of Clymer, Musser, Brown & Conrad in Lancaster.

He has cross-filed, meaning his name will appear on ballots in the Republican and Democratic primaries.

Therefore, to win the Democratic nomination and appear on the November ballot, Mecum would not only have to get at least 250 write-in votes but also beat Brown in that party's primary.

The winner of the November election will succeed Judge Henry S. Kenderdine, who died in April 2010. Kenderdine was in his 19th year as a judge, presiding primarily over family court cases.

The county's newest judge will be seated in January, joining 14 others in what is now an all-Republican bench.

County common pleas judges are paid a salary of $164,602.

Leaders of the county Democratic Party, meeting Thursday night, "gave full support" to the write-in campaign for Mecum, Chairwoman Sally Lyall said.

Mecum was given the Bar Association's high rating, that of "highly recommended," in his unsuccessful bids for county judge in 2005 and 2007, according to newspaper records.

In November 2005, he only narrowly lost to Republican Dennis Reinaker; the margin was 7 percentage points, or 4,963 votes out of 67,999 cast, at a time when Republicans outnumbered Democrats by a more-than-2-to-1 margin.

In 2007, Mecum was among 11 attorneys seeking six open seats on the local bench. He finished seventh.

tmurse@lnpnews.com

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