By KatieKohler and MichelLee
District Attorney Jack Whelan won his Republican primary bid for Common Pleas Court judge on Tuesday and Yeadon Mayor Rohan Hepkins claimed victory with a very narrow lead of about 72 votes at press time with 100 percent of the vote counted.
Hepkins had 819 votes to challenger Issac Dotson’s 747.
In Colwyn, controversial fire company president, Maurice J. Clark, Sr. won a three-way race for mayor, upsetting incumbent Michael Blue.
Clark pulled 137 votes to Paul Meuser’s 54 and Blue’s 45.
In the Glenolden-Norwood area, retiring Glenolden police Chief Jay Kelly won the GOP primary for magisterial district judge. He’ll face Michael Burns in the fall.
Whelan, who cross-filed and appeared on both the Republican and Democratic ballots for the position, squared off against Kelly Eckel.
From his campaign reception at the Milmont Republican Club, Whelan said, “I’m appreciative of all the Republicans who came out to vote notwithstanding most Republicans across the county ran uncontested. On the Democratic side, I don’t expect to win but am happy with the Democrats who came out to support me and cross the line,” said Whelan on Tuesday night. “Most know I’m a Republican but know I have a reputation for fairness and impartiality and as a result of that will support me.”
Receiving Yeadon Democrats at Illusions Sports Bar in Clifton Heights, Hepkins claimed victory and thanked a roomful of supporters to the chants of “four more years.”
Relaxing at a local seafood bar after a bruising contest, Kelly reflected that being in the political realm “has been an experience.” He said he enjoyed meeting new people and looks forward to the fall election.
Of running on both sides of the ballot Whelan reflected, “I would have been surprised in a primary in an odd year election to be able to win the Democratic side but tried to convince a lot of Democratic voters to come over. It’s an opportunity to build for the fall.”
“I look forward to campaigning from now until November and convincing other voters that my candidacy is really important to the judgeship,” said Whelan. “When you look at my record as DA and what was accomplished, it would transcend my ability to handle cases as a judge with the same level of fairness, impartiality and justice that is needed.”
Whelan is currently in his second term as district attorney. He was first elected in 2011 and again in 2015. Prior to that, he was a county councilman and Ridley Township commissioner.
Democratic candidate Eckel, an Upper Providence resident, is a commercial litigator and hiring partner at Duane Morris LLP. For the past 20 years, Eckel has represented clients in a variety of litigation matters.
Common Pleas Court judges are elected to 10-year terms.
From 1986-1991, Whelan was a county assistant district attorney, serving as a trial team leader. Whelan was a practicing attorney for 25 years, and led the firm of Whelan, Doyle & Pressman LLC in the area of civil litigation, municipal representation and decedent estates.
Before becoming district attorney, Whelan was chairman of Delaware County Council. He was first elected to a four-year term on County Council in 2005, was re-elected to a second four-year term in 2009 and took the oath office in January 2010.
“The only reason I ever became a lawyer was about helping people,” added Whelan. “Most of my career is in the civil forum although I am known as the DA. Whether it is in civil, municipal or domestic…I have a wealth of experience. What I hope to do is apply the wisdom, knowledge and experience and apply it to cases that come before me if I’m fortunate and lucky enough to win the election in November.”