Lebanon County District Attorney David J. Arnold, Jr. has been nominated by the Republican party to run in the Jan. 14, 2020 special election for the 48th District State Senate seat opened by the resignation of former senator Michael J. Folmer.

It’s not absurd to think that there might be a vacancy in the DA’s office next January. That’s because Pennsylvania Department of State (spreadsheet) figures show that registered Republican voters outnumber registered Democrats by more than 26,000 in the 48th, a district that 25,000 independent voters also call home.

A Pennsylvania statute exists to fill a vacancy in fifth-class counties such as Lebanon. The First Assistant District Attorney automatically becomes the District Attorney unless he or she is “unwilling or unable to serve.” In that case, the law says judges of the common pleas court collectively appoint a “competent person” to the office.

Lebanon County has four judges. The law does not say what would happen if their votes split.

Either way, the temporary DA would only hold the office until the first Monday of January following the next municipal election. A full term after then would require standing for election.

Lebanon County Bureau of Elections Director Michael L. Anderson told LebTown that the next municipal election will take place in November, 2021. That means Arnold’s successor would hold office until January, 2022.

Arnold’s First Assistant District Attorney is Nichole L. Eisenhart. County records show that she’s been his top assistant since Feb. 13, 2012, and has been at the DA’s office since May 16, 2005.

The promotion, if realized, would come with a salary boost as well. The District Attorney’s 2019 salary is $182,184. Eisenhart, as First Assistant, makes $86,822 per year. Current salaries for Lebanon County’s other full and part-time assistant district attorneys range from $47,502 to $63,398.

Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...


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