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» 2015 Judicial Election Plebiscite
Posted on Monday, April 20, 2015 at 2:23 PM

    Two seats on the Court of Common Pleas will become available in January 2016, the result of  the retirements of Judge Shad Connelly and Judge Ernest J. DiSantis.

    Eight attorneys have filed petitions to run for these two seats. In February and March, the Erie County Bar Association conducted plebiscites, or polls, of its 465 Active members asking the individual attorneys to rate the eight candidates according to the following categories: 

    Highly Recommended, Recommended, Not Recommended or No Opinion.

    Members were asked to evaluate the prospective candidates on professional qualifications such as competence, integrity and temperament.  A “Highly Recommended” rating indicates the candidate possesses the highest reputation for competence, integrity and temperament, and would be capable of outstanding performance as a judge.  By definition, a “Recommended” rating indicates that based on competence, integrity and temperament, the candidate would be able to perform satisfactorily as a judge.  A “Not Recommended” rating indicates that based on competence, integrity or temperament, or any combination thereof, the candidate is inadequate to perform satisfactorily as a judge.  If a voting member does not know a candidate well enough to evaluate him or her, they are asked to indicate “No Opinion.

    At a special meeting of the Bar Association membership on February 3, seven of the eight candidates gave brief speeches.  The next day ballots concerning those seven candidates were mailed to Active members along with information on finding the candidates’ résumés and questionnaires on the ECBA website.    Of the 465 ballots issued, 314 valid ballots, or 68%, were returned.

    A second plebiscite was conducted regarding one attorney who declared his candidacy after the February 3 membership meeting.  Of the 465 ballots issued, 288 valid ballots, or 58%, were returned.

    Four of the eight judicial candidates - John J. “Jamie” Mead, Ed Smith, Chad J. Vilushis, Joseph M. Walsh, III - were recommended by more than 50% of those who returned valid ballots.  (The count of  recommended votes combines votes in both the “Highly Recommended” and “Recommended” categories.)  There were no judicial candidates rated in the first plebiscite as “Highly Recommended” or “Not Recommended” by more than 50 percent of those who returned valid ballots.  In the second plebiscite, Anthony “Buzz” Andrezeski was found by more than 50 percent of those returning valid ballots to be “Not Recommended.”

    “The Erie County Bar Association conducts a plebiscite each year when there is an election for a Common Pleas Court judgeship.  We hope that the information is helpful to our community because individual attorneys are in a unique position to provide input on the candidates’ respective qualifications for the important position of Judge,” said ECBA President Richard A. Lanzillo.

    Results of both plebiscites are listed below in both percentage and raw data formats.  Candidates are listed in alphabetic order.  Percentages for the seven candidates who announced their candidacy in time to participate in the first plebiscite are based on the 314 valid ballots returned.  


Highly Recommended


Not  Recommended

         No Opinion

Erin C. Connelly

21 (7%)

  61 (19%)

140 (45%)

   92 (29%)

Damon C. Hopkins

28 (9%)

128 (41%)

  83 (26%)

   75 (24%)

John J. “Jamie” Mead

137 (44%)

116 (37%)

  33 (10%)

28 (9%)

Elvage G. Murphy

  32 (10%)

 66 (21%)

  96 (31%)

120 (38%)

Edwin W. Smith

142 (45%)

111 (36%)

20 (6%)

  41 (13%)

Chad J. Vilushis

 77 (25%)

129 (41%)

  34 (11%)

  74 (23%)

Joseph M. Walsh, III

151 (48%)

107 (34%)

21 (7%)

  35 (11%)

      Percentages for the eighth candidate are based on the 288 valid ballots returned.

Anthony B. “Buzz” Andrezeski

           7 (2%)

           1 (0%)

   249 (86%)

   31 (12%)

 Ballots were tallied by the CPA firm of Maloney, Reed, Scarpitti & Company


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