Candidates for judge will again square off

The candidates have vied for a judge's post in the past.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- For Tom Piccione and John Hodge, the campaign for the coming election is a matter of getting out and meeting as many people as possible.
The two candidates running for the newly created fourth common pleas judge position in Lawrence County say there are no issues and they are barred by law from talking about their opinions on judicial matters.
"I am out trying to meet people. Trying to get people to know me and my qualifications," said Piccione, the Democratic nominee. "Let them know my experience, ability and education."
His Republican opponent is doing the same.
"I'm trying every conceivable way to introduce myself to the electorate," Hodge said.
Billboards for both men stretch to all ends of the county as they battle over the seat created last year by the state legislature.
Lawrence County officials lobbied for the post, claiming it will cut down on the common pleas court backlog and eliminate the need for court masters. Masters are attorneys appointed by the court to hear matters that the judges do not have time to handle.
Hodge and Piccione both have extensive legal backgrounds and have vied for a judge's post before and lost. In 1999 they both sought the seat won by J. Craig Cox.
Last race: In this election, the battle for votes will likely be over the votes a third candidate got in the primary election. Susan Papa did not receive either party's nomination, but ended up taking 6,578 votes in May.
Hodge finished slightly higher with a total of 6,656 votes and Piccione garnered 8,180.
Hodge says he's targeting areas where Papa did well in the primary.
"We are able to see areas where there's votes up for grabs or at issue. We have looked at the primary results and reviewed that information," he said.
Piccione says he's not targeting any specific areas where Papa did well in the primary, but just campaigning aggressively.
Attacks: Both candidates say they took a break from campaigning in the summer and just after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Both stress that voting in November is even more significant after the recent terrorism.
"A lot of things that were important on Sept. 10 took a different position in people's lives and minds on Sept. 11. The election is certainly something we must go forward with in our country. To do otherwise would show that those terrorists achieved some success," Piccione said.
"I would like to think people will use the election as a method or manner to show what this country is made of -- mainly, honoring our rights and freedoms by going to the polls and voting. It's the best way to show the rest of the world that the events of Sept. 11 have not dampened our desire to be a free and independent nation and society," Hodge added.