State College attorney to challenge Parks Miller for DA position

Bernie Cantorna announces his candidacy for district attorney on Tuesday at the Willowbank Building in Bellefonte.
Bernie Cantorna announces his candidacy for district attorney on Tuesday at the Willowbank Building in Bellefonte. psheehan@centredaily.com

State College attorney, Bernie Cantorna announced his candidacy for Centre County District Attorney Tuesday afternoon in the Willowbank Building.

Cantorna, flanked by his wife, youngest daughter, colleagues and supporters, said he will run on the Democratic ticket.

“I’m running for district attorney to restore the public trust and the integrity that office once had,” Cantorna said.

Cantorna has been a resident of Centre County for 18 years and has practiced law for more than 25 years. He is a partner in Bryant & Cantorna, a Sate College law firm. Away from the courtroom, Cantorna is the head coach of the State College High School girls’ rugby team and the defensive coach of the Penn State women’s rugby team.

“If elected Centre County district attorney, it is my promise to the citizens of this county that politics will play no role in any decision-making in my office,” Cantorna said.

In January, 2015, Cantorna spoke on his own behalf and on behalf of other members of the Centre County Bar Association in front of the Centre County board of commissioners. He asked for an investigation into forgery allegations made against incumbent District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller.

Parks Miller was accused of forging the signature of Judge Pamela A. Ruest. She was investigated by a grand jury, which declined to file criminal charges after months of investigation. Parks Miller subsequently filed lawsuits against several parties in the county, which resulted in more than a year of legal skirmishes around the issue.

Just more than two hours after Cantorna’s announcement, Parks Miller released a statement abut his candidacy.

“Now we know why he and his cronies falsely and maliciously accused me of a crime; to get me out of the way because he covets the job for himself,” Parks Miller said.

After Parks Miller’s statement, Cantorna attempted to steer the rhetoric into a policy-driven space.

“It’s disappointing to see the tone and the tactic the DA is using in response to my announcement,” Cantorna said. “It’s unfortunate that she continues to use personal attacks and fails to focus on the issues, which is what a campaign should be about.”

The primary election is slated for May 16, 2017.

Leon Valsechi: 814-231-4631, @leon_valsechi