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Donna Long Brightbill and Megan Ryland-Tanner, the respective winners of the May 16 Republican and Democratic primary elections, will square off in November to fill a vacancy on Lebanon County’s four-judge Court of Common Pleas.
The empty seat was created by last year’s resignation of Judge Samuel L. Kline. Pending the election of his replacement, Kline has continued to serve part time as a “senior judge.”
Read More: Lebanon County Judge Samuel A. Kline will retire this fall
November’s winner will serve a 10-year term and can be retained by voters for additional terms on a simple “yes – no” vote, until reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75.
Long-Brightbill, 62, and Ryland-Tanner, 48, would be able to serve a full term if elected.
The court’s president judge, John C. Tylwalk, will be 75 in February 2027 and will have to retire by the end of that year, before the completion of his current term.
Lebanon County’s remaining judges, Bradford H. Charles, 66, and Charles T. Jones, 57, were both retained for new 10-year terms starting in 2020.
There has been speculation that Charles may consider retiring before his current term expires in 2030. Although Charles would not rule out that possibility, he told LebTown that he has not made any plans along those lines.
“In the absence of any health, family or other unusual issues, my retirement is not imminent,” wrote Charles in an email to LebTown. “That said, I have been serving for 22 plus years and I am almost 67 years old, so I will not discount the possibility that I could retire before my term ends in 2030.”
Based on its population, Lebanon County is eligible for a fifth Common Pleas Court judge.
However, Tylwalk told LebTown earlier this month that the court’s caseload and lack of any significant backlog make a fifth judge, for now, unnecessary, and he has no plans to ask Pennsylvania’s General Assembly to create an additional position on the local bench.
In 2021, the latest year for which statistics have been released by the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts, the Lebanon County court disposed of 1,880 criminal cases and 839 civil cases.
For the same period, the family court division disposed 3,676 cases, the largest categories being child/spousal support (1,421) and child custody/visitation (1,014).
The current salary for a Pennsylvania Common Pleas judge is $212,495. As the county’s president judge, Tylwalk is paid $213,422 annually.
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Editor’s note: This article was updated to rephrase the first sentence for clarity.