North Union magisterial district judge race too close to call

A three­way race for North Union magisterial district judge between a longtime police officer, attorney and correctional officer was too close to call Tuesday night.

Donald “Butch” Gmitter of Wharton Township was leading by six votes on the Democratic ticket Tuesday night. Nathan Henning of Wharton Township led by 13 votes on the Republican ticket, according to the unofficial election results.

None of the candidates was willing to claim the nomination until the official results were announced. Gmitter earned 688 votes on the Democratic ballot, while Gordon earned 682 votes. “They have us neck and neck,” Gordon said. Nathan Henning of Wharton Township earned 459 votes, according to the unofficial results.

On the Republican ballot, Henning earned 461 votes, Gmitter earned 448 votes, and Gordon earned 242 votes, according to the unofficial results. All three candidates filed on both the Republican and Democratic ballots.

The candidate who is elected in November will replace Magisterial District Judge Wendy Dennis. She announced her retirement after nearly 30 years serving as district judge for district seat 14­-2-­02, which serves Markleysburg, Ohiopyle, Henry Clay Township, North Union Township, Stewart Township and Wharton Township.

Gmitter works as the chief of police for Uniontown Area School District. Gmitter retired from the Uniontown City Police Department as a detective in 2016 after 15 years with the department. He also served eight years in the Marine Corps and volunteers as a firefighter, currently serving with the Farmington Volunteer Fire Department. “It’s just too close to call,” Gmitter said. “I would like to thank everyone that came out to vote today.”

He said running for magisterial district judge was a part of his long­term career plan since he started working as a police officer. ‘

Gordon, an attoney in Uniontown, said he is an advocate for mental health patients for Fayette County. Gordon is also a court­appointed attorney for Children and Youth Services (CYS), and a member of the Fayette County Bar Association board of directors, he said. “I think it was a competitive race,” he said. “I’m very proud of my supporters and I’m proud of what we did.”

Henning is a correctional systems officer with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He also spent eight years employed with the Fayette County Juvenile Probation Office. “I’m just very happy with the outcome and appreciate all the hard work we’ve put in,” he said. “I look forward to the race in the fall.”

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