Politics & Government

Voters Guide | District judge


Term: Six years

Salary: $86,639

(Vote for one in each district.)

Question: What impact does a magisterial district judge have upon the quality of life in his or her district and, if elected, how would you utilize your role in improving it?



District covers half of State College borough.

Carmine W. Prestia, State College

Did not respond


District covers College, Ferguson, Halfmoon and Patton townships

Leslie Dutchcot, State College

Education: University of Pittsburgh, B.A. 1996; Duquesne University School of Law, J.D. 2000

Occupation: Magisterial district judge, Centre Region 49-2-01

Qualifications: PTBA Excellence Award 2011; Goodall & Yurchak, PC, attorney; Justice and Safety Institute, criminal law instructor; Monroe County, assistant district attorney and law clerk; bar admission: commonwealth of Pennsylvania 2000.

Answer to question: In my second term, I will continue to devote time and energy to community service, supporting charitable organizations that benefit Centre County and area youth. Education is a key element to help our young citizens make wise decisions throughout their lives. Organizations such as Centre County Law Enforcement Camp Cadet, Communities that Care and programs like “Slay the Dragon,” “DARE” and “Safe Surf” are beneficial resources that educate teens about citizenship, drug and alcohol issues, and Internet safety. Instilling sound principles in our future leaders will promote and conserve the high quality of life that we value within our community.


District covers Bellefonte, Milesburg, Howard and Unionville boroughs, and Benner, Boggs, Curtin, Liberty, Marion, Spring, Union, Howard and Walker townships.

Kelley Gillette-Walker, Bellefonte

Date of birth: Sept. 24, 1974

Education: 1993 Bald Eagle Area; 1997 Penn State, B.A.; 2000 Temple Law School, J.D.

Occupation: Assistant district attorney

Qualifications: Attorney, 13 years-criminal/civil; endorsed PA State Police and FOP Lodge 51; 2003 Leadership Centre County; former board member, YMCA, CentrePeace, Center for Alternatives in Community Justice, Centre Crest Trust; former adviser-mock trial; 2010 Rose Cologne Volunteer Award.

Answer to question: A district judge who knows and understands the law is important so that citizens who come before her are treated fairly. Additionally, having a judge who is familiar with the system and is aware of alternate programs improves the quality of life for the citizens of her district. Youth Aid Panel, the Youthful Offenders Program and Veteran’s Court are programs that should be expanded, and I will use in my court for appropriate first-time offenders. Mediation should be encouraged for civil litigants so that both sides of the case have a hand in and are satisfied with the outcome.


District includes half of State College borough.


Susan Bardo, State College

Date of birth: Jan. 24, 1970

Education: 1992, Penn State, B.S.; 2004, Widener University School of Law, J.D.

Occupation: Attorney

Qualifications: Attorney civil and criminal law, eight-plus years, supervisory and budgeting experience; community involvement; Historic Resources Commission, Downtown Master Plan Steering Committee, State College Area Food Bank, AAUW, Leadership Centre County, 2008, Stewards of Children training, 2013.

Answer to question: Magisterial district judges (MDJs) have a significant impact on the quality of life in Centre County. MDJs routinely handle cases that affect people’s everyday lives as well as the safety and security of their families and property. MDJs are the first stop in cases involving traffic tickets, landlord/tenant issues, disputes between residents, contract disputes and setting bail for people alleged to have committed serious crimes. As an attorney who has always practiced in Centre County and who has handled these types of cases, I will be a solid and fair MDJ who will ensure quality of life.


Steve Lachman, State College

Date of birth: March 15, 1958

Education: 1980, Vassar, B.A.; 1985, Vermont Law School, J.D.; admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar, 1986; 2003, Penn State, Ph.D. (geography)

Occupation: Attorney; coach, SCAHS mock trial and forensics teams

Qualifications: Professor, Dickinson School of Law (four years); Public defender, Allegheny County (two years); litigator, Pa. DEP (nine years); arbitrator, Court of Common Pleas (15 years); mediator, Center for Alternatives in Community Justice (eight years).

Answer to question: The district judge improves the quality of life in State College by encouraging respect for the law. People must see that the law is applied equally and fairly. I will listen carefully to every person and treat each case individually, so everyone leaves the court knowing that the legal system works. My decisions will protect community safety and help individuals get on track. A judge should be as much teacher as disciplinarian. Through outreach, I will educate all our citizens, but especially students, as to their rights and responsibilities. I will set an example by continuing my volunteer activities.