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Derry Township police officer and North Londonderry Township resident Dennis Eckenrode is the third announced candidate for the vacant magisterial district judge position covering Palmyra Borough and North Londonderry, South Londonderry, East Hanover, and Cold Spring townships.

MDJs handle “small claims” cases such as traffic and minor criminal cases, preliminary stages of misdemeanor and felony criminal cases, landlord-tenant disputes, and civil lawsuits involving up to $12,000.

The position became open when incumbent MDJ Carl Garver announced last December that he would not seek reelection when his second six-year term expires in January 2024.

Eckenrode, 47, will compete against Cynthia Lyons and David Warner in the May 16 primary election.

All three have said they will cross-file on both the Democratic and Republican primary ballots. Barring a write-in campaign, a candidate winning both sides of the primary contest would run unopposed in the Nov. 7 municipal election.

The winning candidate will preside in Magisterial District 52-3-05, shown in purple. (lebcogis.maps.arcgis.com)

In a Facebook post, Eckenrode said he has spent 22 years at the Derry Township, Dauphin County, police department, where he is currently a detective sergeant in charge of its Criminal Investigations Section. He has also served on the Dauphin County Crisis Response Team.

Eckenrode enlisted in the U.S. Army out of high school, where he finished his career as a sergeant overseeing a squad of Airborne Combat Engineer Paratroopers specializing in explosive breaching and landmine clearance.

“My background in law enforcement, which will greatly benefit the people I seek to serve,” he said, “includes the countless hours I have spent in the court room with traffic citations, non-traffic citations, criminal cases, applying for criminal warrants and search warrants and serving as a witness for civil cases.”

Eckenrode and his wife, Adrienne, have three children.

MDJs are state employees. The salaried position paid $98,565 in 2022. A 7.8% pay raise this year, indexed to inflation, will push their annual salary $106,253.

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Chris Coyle

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,...


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