Ready For Action

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Advocate Jill Beck Launches Candidacy for Pennsylvania Superior Court. 

 Beck Runs on Record as a Champion for Fairness and Justice for ALL Pennsylvanians 

“For as long as I can remember, I wanted to help people who don’t have a voice and be an advocate for the underserved. This is what drew me to pursue a legal career nearly 20 years ago,” said Jill. “I know firsthand that justice is served only when every person – regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or income – has fair and equal access to the courts. I am running for Pennsylvania Superior Court to ensure that all Pennsylvanians have a voice in our legal system.”

 

No stranger to Pennsylvania’s appellate court system, Jill spent ten years as a law clerk for the Honorable Christine Donohue – first on the Superior Court and then the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In that position, Jill drafted decisions for criminal, civil, family, juvenile, and orphans’ court cases that were grounded in the law and achieved substantial justice for individuals, families, and businesses across the Commonwealth. 

 

Prior to her work with Justice Donohue, Jill fought for hundreds of abused and neglected children as an attorney for the nonprofit organization KidsVoice. Jill’s service at KidsVoice did not stop with ensuring that the legal rights of her young clients were protected. She worked diligently to ensure they were cared for and that their basic human needs were met. KidsVoice honored her for her advocacy in 2008, and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Allegheny County gave her their Children’s Voice Award in 2010. 

​Rosemary has been rated highly recommended by the Allegheny County Bar Association.

Rosemary Crawford is a candidate for Judge, Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County in order to make a difference in the lives of children and families in our region. Rosemary was raised in a strong union household, her father a Pullman porter, and mother a public school teacher, instilled in her the value of social justice and the importance of fairness. Rosemary is one of the people and wants to be the peoples’ judge.

Rosemary has been an attorney for 30 years.  She received her Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center, and her Bachelor of Arts from Rhodes College.  She serves as a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee for the Western District of Pennsylvania.  As Chapter 7 Trustee, she serves a quasi-judicial role presiding over thousands of complex bankruptcy meeting of creditors, and she handles case administration, including litigation.  She has extensive experience in civil litigation, family law, and employment law as well as bankruptcy, and appellate practice.  In particular, she successfully argued a precedential matter before the Third Circuit – Orton vs. Crawford.

She is a certified Arbitrator (Better Business Bureau, FINRA and Courts) and Mediator.  She has served on the Boards of the Allegheny County Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the Women’s Bar Association, and the Homer S. Brown Association. She is Past Director of Legal Resources at the YWCA and she represented individuals seeking Protection from Abuse at no cost.  

She has practiced with some of Pittsburgh’s finest law firms and served as a Trial Attorney with the Department of Justice.  She served as an adjunct Professor of Employment Law at the University of Pittsburgh Law School and taught Criminal Procedure and Business Law at the Community College of Allegheny County.  She was selected by The Honorable Donetta Ambrose, then Chief Judge of the Western District of Pennsylvania to serve as a Member of the Federal Rules Advisory Committee for 2000-2001

She is a recipient of the Allegheny County Bar Association Outstanding Young Lawyer Award, Pittsburgh Courier 50 Women of Excellence, Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 and 40, the 2011 OWN Network Legacy in Black Award, and the 2014 Influential Leader Award from the African American Leadership Association.  She is a featured conference and local television speaker on social justice, economic and financial literacy issues, having appeared on WPXI’s Impact, Talking Pittsburgh, and the Lynn Hayes Freeland Show.  She is also a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha, Incorporated, the Links, Inc., Mt. Ararat Baptist Church, and Allison Park Church.  

Rosemary has three beloved dogs – Aries, Athena, and Zeus.

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Elliot Howsie Candidate for Court of Common Pleas

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Growing up in Wilkinsburg, Judge Howsie recognized the profound impact that education, hard work, and opportunity play in one’s life. While some around Judge Howsie made poor decisions, his father’s tenacity and his mother’s vision for his future enabled him to follow a different path.

 

After graduating from Central Catholic High School,

Judge Howsie attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania where he

earned his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in criminology. While

pursuing his master's degree in criminology, Judge Howsie worked in

social services teaching decision making and reintegration skills to the

children at Shuman Juvenile Detention Center.

While attending the evening program at Duquesne University School of

Law, Judge Howsie worked two full-time jobs in the social service field. During the day, Judge Howsie provided intensive home-based family therapy and support services to low-income families that were active with Family Court. During the evenings and weekends, Judge Howsie worked as a residential counselor at the Whale’s Tale/Family Links Independent Living Program. After graduating from Duquesne University Law School, Judge Howsie worked as a judicial law clerk for Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge, Justin Johnson.

 

Judge Howsie went on to serve as a prosecutor in the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office for five years, where he prosecuted cases involving physical and sexual abuse of children. After leaving the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, Judge Howsie established his own law firm.

 

On March 19, 2012, the Allegheny County Executive, Richard Fitzgerald, appointed Judge Howsie to become the first African American Director of the Public Defender’s Office in the history of Allegheny County. Under Judge Howsie's leadership, the Allegheny County Public Defender’s Office became one of the preeminent offices in Pennsylvania. In 2019, Senator Jay Costa recommended Judge Howsie, then the Chief Public Defender, to fill a

vacancy on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. Governor Wolf appointed Judge Howsie and he was unanimously confirmed by the Pennsylvania Senate to serve as a Judge on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. Judge Howsie currently serves as a Judge in the Family Division and the Criminal Division and was Highly Recommended by the Allegheny County Bar Association to serve in our judicial system.

Jehosha Wright Candidate for Magisterial District Judge.

Jehosha Wright is a Counselor, Lifestyle Health Coach, and Candidate for Magisterial District Judge on the lower Northside. His experience of growing up in Manchester and learning in challenging public school settings motivated him to be successful. Since 2012, he has been intentional in his efforts to fill his experiences with continued education and opportunities to grow as a leader. Jehosha has been recognized for his leadership contributions at Carlow University where he earned his Bachelor’s degree. He was a driving force in the University’s efforts to diversify the growing student population. Jehosha went on to obtain his Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling as a means to strengthen his altruistic approach to leadership. He is now a Health Coach with UPMC where he uses his counseling skill set to encourage members to make lifestyle changes that improve their overall health and wellness. 

As a young professional, Jehosha was introduced to Pittsburgh’s philanthropic landscape in 2015 with The Door Campaign. He spent his time there assisting with the development of the 2020 Vision Program where they developed a STEM curriculum for both Pittsburgh Public and Charter Schools. Jehosha served as a Community Outreach Specialist for Fineview and Perry Hilltop Citizen’s Council. During his time with the Citizen’s Council, he was able to help the organization craft a youth development program that taught students of Perry High School about community leadership. However, Jehosha’s desire to influence change in the political realm was fortified through his experience working as a drug and alcohol therapist at an alternative correctional facility. He found that his role as a therapist was reactionary which was part of the problem at large. Jehosha used that experience as an impetus to fuel his desire for proactive leadership.

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Jessel Costa Candidate for Court of Common Pleas.

Jessel believes that he possesses experience that few other attorneys normally see over their entire careers. Working on both sides of a trial—as a public defender AND a prosecutor—coupled with his work on every aspect of a case—from the investigatory stage through a jury verdict—demonstrates a holistic, comprehensive understanding of the legal system.

 

Furthermore, Jessel’s work in more than 20 counties throughout western Pennsylvania imbues him with a broad base of experience as it relates to how the court system functions; he has seen what works and what doesn’t work, and is prepared to employ best practices in Allegheny County. 

 

Finally, Jessel is aware that we are presented with a unique opportunity to reshape and reform the judiciary in Allegheny County in 2021, and he has ideas to implement criminal justice reforms to affect that change; a few of those ideas include an earlier review of preliminary bail decisions in criminal cases—while MDJs set bail, Common Pleas judges should more quickly review those decisions and make changes necessary to prevent citizens from languishing in jail pre-trial; an increase in the number of diversionary court programs, and more inclusive admissions criteria for those programs—programs that center rehabilitation over incarceration should be the default for citizens interacting with the criminal justice system; sentencing reforms that treat incarceration as a last resort.

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Wrenna Watson, A Lifelong Pittsburgh Attorney With 29 Years of Experience, is Seeking to be Elected as Judge of Court of Common Pleas.

PITTSBURGH (February 8, 2021)— Wrenna Watson, Attorney and Judge of the Minor Judiciary, is seeking

nomination for Judge of Allegheny County’s Court of Common Pleas. For almost three decades, Watson has

served in a judicial capacity as Judge of the Pittsburgh Magistrates Court, as the hearing examiner for the PA

Liquor Control Board, she served as chair of the Pittsburgh Planning Commission and Zoning Board of

Adjustments, as well as sits as a Civil Commitment Hearing Officer for the court. “I am incredibly excited to announce that I am running for Allegheny County’s Court of Common Pleas,” says

Wrenna Watson. “I am immensely passionate about helping others and I truly believe in equal justice for all.

With that being said, my experience, passion, and determination to see judicial reform, equal treatment, and

fairness to be exhibited and exercised from the bench, allows me to confidently say I know that I am the

woman for the job!”

Watson's roots run deep in Allegheny County. Her father, the Honorable J. Warren Watson, was one of the first

African American judges and was elected in 1965. Ms. Watson was born in Homewood before moving to the

Hill District. After graduating from Howard University in Washington, D.C., Wrenna Watson worked in various

industries before becoming a probation officer. As a PO, she came face-to-face with both the highs and lows of

the justice system, seeing the inequalities empowered her to go to law school and make a difference.

“I was destined to be a public servant. What drives me is knowing that I have the ability to make a difference

in the lives of others,” says Watson. “I will never forget the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. I was

driven through my neighborhood in the Hill District by my dad, looking at all the businesses that had been

ravaged by riots. It was in that moment that he told me I was intelligent, and someday it will be my

responsibility to help people and uplift our community.”

Watson has represented thousands of children, families, business owners, and community members who

needed sound counsel. Representing them in Court and assisting with myriad legal matters, Watson has

fulfilled the passion and purpose her father instilled in her by serving people in her community every single

day. She continues to demonstrate equal justice for all in her courtrooms and has a reputation of being fair

and treating everyone with respect.

The Democratic Committee will vote to endorse the Democratic slate on March 7. Mel and TiAnda Blount,

and Mr. Larry and Dr. Marcia Sturdivant Anderson are the Chairs of the VOTE WATSON 4 JUDGE

Committee. The Chairs endorse Watson because of her fierce passion, commitment and dedication to children

and the community. They sincerely believe she brings the diversity needed on the bench. Visit

www.wrennawatson.com for more details.

Candidate Andy Szefi

Andy was raised in Mt. Lebanon and graduated from Mt. Lebanon High School in 1990. He attended the University of Richmond on an academic scholarship, graduating in 1994, and then returned home to attend the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Andy lives in Mt. Lebanon,

where he and his wife Melissa raise their three children. As a former partner at the law firm of Goehring Rutter & Boehm, he specialized in litigation, municipal and real estate law, representing both municipal governments and private entities in a broad range of legal matters

For the past nine years, Andy has served as County Solicitor, the chief legal officer of Allegheny County after being appointed to the position by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. As County Solicitor, Andy is the director of the Allegheny County Law Department, a group of 55 dedicated lawyers and staff working with all 20 county departments to provide the services vital to the

residents of Allegheny County.

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ZUR for Judge on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas

For the past 22 years, Ilan Zur has been serving the citizens of Allegheny County as a prosecutor in the District Attorney’s Office. Ilan began working as an assistant D.A. in 1999, shortly after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Ilan is an experienced trial attorney with an expert knowledge of the rules of evidence, criminal procedure, and the law. He has spent thousands of hours in the courtroom having tried over 400 cases before judges and juries, including 60 homicide trials. The majority of Ilan’s career has been spent as a homicide prosecutor where he fought passionately to bring closure to victims' families.

 

Ilan’s trial expertise, integrity, and commitment to developing the skills of young lawyers, culminated in his

promotion to Deputy District Attorney in 2013, when he was selected to supervise the Violent Crimes and

Narcotics Division. In this role, Ilan is responsible for directing the prosecution of gun and drug distribution

offenses within the District Attorney’s Office. Zur has seen first-hand the impact of guns and senseless violence

on communities. To combat this, Ilan and his unit seek justice for victims of gun violence across the county with

a hard stance on illegal gun possession.

When Ilan isn’t in the courtroom, or at home with his family, you’ll find him playing in the ACBA’s softball and

basketball leagues, or at the JCC shooting hoops with friends. While he was born in New York City, Pittsburgh

has been his home since 1990 when he moved here to attend Carnegie Mellon University, graduating with a

Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Management and a Minor in Architecture. Ilan and his wife, Lisa, live

in Squirrel Hill with their three children, and recently Ilan’s mom, Dalia, moved in as well.

Zur’s two decades of experience working in the criminal justice system taught him that not all cases are as

simple as right and wrong; he has learned to never prejudge a situation or a person. As a judge, he will listen to

both sides with an open mind before rendering a verdict or imposing a sentence. He takes the presumption of

innocence seriously, recognizing every case is different and will stand on its own. His everyday desire to help

people underpins his devotion to public service and he will bring that innate drive with him to the bench.

Bill Peduto was elected as Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh in 2013. He
has dedicated his career to preserving the unique character of
Pittsburgh that so many of us love, while making sure that we work
together to make Pittsburgh a place that works for all.

Mayor Peduto has spent his time in office putting people first. He has
invested millions of dollars into affordable and mixed-income housing,
so that no one in Pittsburgh has to be left behind through our
economic growth. He has worked with stakeholders to invest in our
future by providing summer employment opportunities for our youth.
Mayor Peduto has helped to address food insecurity through the city’s
free afterschool meals program, serving children and people with
disabilities.

Bill Peduto also understands that investing in our communities means
keeping us safe. That is why the mayor has hired the highest numbers
of police officers, firefighters, and building inspectors in decades.
Under Mayor Peduto’s leadership, the City has doubled the amount of
street paving since 2014.

As Pittsburgh’s economy has changed, Bill Peduto has had a direct hand
in ensuring that the transformation is centered around community-based
development plans so that the health of our economy is directly tied
to the health of our communities. Mayor Peduto has created the most
transparent government in our city’s history by posting his daily
schedule and posting publicly-accessible paving lists and building
inspection reports online. A leader in sustainability, good
government, and in building our new economy, Mayor Peduto continues to
be a different kind of mayor.

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Bill Peduto for Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh