Ramos, Russell face off in race for MDJ seat Tony Russell Nelson RamosBoro seat also contested

By on November 2, 2011

By: MICHELLE REIFF Review Staff mreiff.eph@lnpnews.com, Staff Writer

When area voters head to the polls in less than a week, they will have few, but significant choices to make.

As most local races are uncontested in the Nov. 8 election, the biggest decision will be who takes over the vacant Magisteral District Judge (MDJ) spot created by the retirement of Jene Willwerth. The seat covers Ephrata Borough and Ephrata, Clay and Akron townships.

The two candidates are Tony Russell on the Republican ballot and Nelson Ramos, who is representing the Democrats.

Russell gained the Republican nomination in the primary with 823 votes. Nelson won on the Democratic ticket with 223. Seven candidates represented the Republicans in the spring; four of them, including Russell and Ramos, cross-filed as Democrats.

Russell is a retired officer who served for 26 years in the Ephrata Police Department. He feels that his local involvement will not cause him to be biased.

"I’m positive that the reason I got elected is because I’m honest," said Russell. "No judge should do anything more than look at the facts and make a decision based on his honesty and integrity."

Russell is chairman of the Ephrata Youth Aid Panel, which he helped organize in 2005. He feels that in this capacity, as well as in serving as past chairman of the Rec Center’s swim team board and president of the Ephrata Youth Soccer Club, he has shown a commitment to caring for the youth of the community.

As a judge, Russell has a plan to deal with juvenile issues, including drug problems. He feels the best way to proceed is not to try to "preach" to them after they’ve already gotten in trouble, but to be a part of their lives in the school system; let them know how their actions can affect them.

"I already talked to the high school government teacher," said Russell. "If I’m elected I would like to go into the school and talk to the class about the law and how I’m going to treat the law."

Ramos also has a police background. He has held the position of patrolman for the Lancaster City Bureau of Police for the past 20 years.

Ramos, an Ephrata resident for 18 years, does not feel that serving as an officer outside of the Ephrata area would affect his effectiveness as a judge.

He said he decided to run partly because there seems to be a detachment in understanding what people go through when they are victims of a crime. Using his experience as a city officer, he hopes to clarify this for many.

"Some of the judges — being outside in areas where crime doesn’t happen too much — haven’t been exposed to it except when it comes into the courtroom," said Ramos.

Ramos would like to make himself more approachable to students, in particular through programs like the mock court system to educate youth about how the law works and help fight problems like juvenile delinquency and drugs.

"That allows the judge to basically become a real person to them," said Ramos.

Ramos feels that the judge is basically working for the citizens. If elected, the first thing he is interested in doing is learning about all aspects of how the judge’s office operates.

"Secretaries for the most part run the office," said Ramos. "Some (judges) come in and fire staff; I’m going to be learning how that office operates, making changes to improve that will benefit the citizens."

Both candidates attended the four-week training course through the Pennsylvania State Minor Judiciary Education Board. Russell passed the test given at the end of the course. Ramos did not complete one essay question and therefore is required to take the test again and pass, in order to serve as judge.

Ramos responded to the contention of some that he did not complete the course, since he has not yet passed the test. He noted that you don’t need the certification to run, only to serve, and he plans to take the test again on Dec. 4.

"You have the opportunity to take the test again," said Ramos. "I don’t have to do the course again. By law you have eight months (to retake the test). You have as many opportunities as you need."

Another race where area residents will have more than one choice in which to cast their votes on Tuesday will be that of a seat on Borough Council, representing Ephrata’s third ward.

A. Anthony Kilkuskie, currently Borough Council president, is the Republican candidate. Running against him on the Democratic ballot is Tim Barr.

Kilkuskie, an attorney since 1974, is seeking his third term on council.

He feels the openness of council has improved over the years — more so than in the past, when council was kept at arms length from the staff. He would like to continue to make efforts in this direction.

"We want input from people," said Kilkuskie. "We are the representatives. The only way we learn is if people talk to us, come to meetings and present their concerns."

Kilkuskie also is interested in intermunicipal cooperation and keeping services at reasonable costs. Since providing electric at a low cost continues to be a challenge, he is working with council toward a remedy.

"We’re looking to rearrange staff so a person can be free to devote a significant amount of time to keeping up with the markets and all the variables required in acquiring power," he said.

Barr is running for Borough Council for the third time. Last time he ran, he lost by only about 50 votes and he feels his chances keep getting better.

The equipment operator for PennDOT, U.S. Navy veteran and VFW senior vice commander feels the town is gradually becoming less blindly conservative (voting all Republican).

"People are becoming more open to issues, more education and more open to progressive ideas," said Barr.

One of Barr’s main goals as a council member would be to encourage the borough to become more efficient, especially in energy usage. His ideas include CFL/LED lighting and smart meters.

"The new borough building has CFLs throughout the building," he said. "What I’ve been suggesting for at least four years is to start converting street lights to LEDs. There are conversion kits; they are very efficient."

Barr’s goals also include expediting the borough meetings and inciting less of an air of superiority from council to the residents.

"I would like to see the council be a little more resident friendly," he said." I think the public perceives council as protecting the borough more than its residents."

This election includes several more races open seats, all uncontested. Ephrata School Board has five contestants seeking to fill five seats. Tim Stauffer and Chris Weber are Republican candidates, while Judy Beiler, Kay Kurtz and Ted Kachel will appear on both the Republican and Democratic ballots.

Running unopposed for Borough Council seats in Ephrata are Dale Hertzog, Melvin Weiler, and Robert Good, all Republican candidates. George Dillio, a Democrat, is the sole contestant for the third ward two-year seat. In Akron, Republican candidates John Taylor, H. Jeffrey Shick and David Landis are seeking to fill the three vacant spots.

In Ephrata Township, John Weber is the Republican candidate running unopposed for one vacant supervisor seat. Two spots are open for auditor, with two candidates running: Jay Snyder for the six-year seat and Paul Miley for the two-year position. Both are Republicans. The position of tax collector is sought to be filled by Republican Joseph Strosser, who is unopposed.

Clay Township has one open supervisor seat. Republican Keith Martin is the only candidate on the ballot.

Polls will open on Tuesday at 7 a.m. county-wide and will close at 8 p.m. Before voters step into the voting booth next Tuesday, here’s what to expect… Magisterial

District Judge

(vote for one)


Tony Russell


Nelson Ramos

Ephrata Area

School Board

(vote for five)


Tim Stauffer

Judy Beiler

Chris Weber

Kay Kurtz

Ted Kachel


Judy Beiler

Kay Kurtz

Ted Kachel

Ephrata Borough Council

(vote for one)

(First Ward)


Dale Hertzog

(Second Ward)


Melvin Weiler

(Third Ward)



A. Anthony Kilkuskie


Tim Barr

(Third Ward)



George Dillio

(Fourth Ward)


Robert Good

Akron Borough Council

(vote for three)


John Taylor

H. Jeffrey Shick

David Landis

Ephrata Township Supervisor

(vote for one)


John Weber


Township Auditor

(vote for one)



Jay Snyder



Paul Miley

Ephrata Township Tax Collector

(vote for one)


Joseph Strosser

Clay Township


(vote for one)


Keith Martin VOTE More ELECTION, page A18

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