Erik Itzen, a Penn State Hershey Medical Center security officer and former Lebanon policeman, is one of five candidates running for a vacant Magisterial District Judge position in the City of Lebanon. He will be on both the Democratic and Republican ballots in the May 18, 2021 election.

The office at 502 State Drive, officially known as Magisterial District Court 52-2-01, serves the 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th, and 10th Wards on the city’s south side, and has been vacant since longtime MDJ Thomas Capello resigned in January, 2020.

The 40 year old Bucks County native has lived in the city since 2006. He and his wife, a teacher in the Lebanon School District, have two children.

Itzen served on the city police force between 2005 and 2009. After that, he worked as a full time substitute teacher at Northwest Elementary and Lebanon Middle School, where he also ran the in-school suspension program. He and his wife were also relief house parents at Milton Hershey School.

He received his Act 120 police officer certification from Temple University’s Municipal Police Academy, and a bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a Criminal Justice concentration from East Stroudsburg University.

Magisterial District Judges, once known as “justices of the peace” or “magistrates,” are the lowest level of judge in Pennsylvania’s judicial system, and are many citizens’ first and only contact with it. They handle the initial stages of criminal cases, landlord-tenant cases, and civil lawsuits for up to $12,000 in money claims.

“I believe that integrity and experience matter in choosing a judge,” Itzen told LebTown in a telephone interview. “There’s some power and a lot of responsibility with the position. You need someone with a level head.” He went on to cite his experience as both a police officer and a teacher. “I think those experiences will serve me well as a judge.”

Itzen has been endorsed by Lebanon Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 42.

The annual salary for a Magisterial District Judge is $93,338.

Other announced candidates are James Capello, Aurelis Figueroa, Anthony Magaro, and Sean Maguire. All but Maguire have cross-filed, meaning they will be on both parties’ ballots. Maguire is running solely as a Republican.

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Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...