This post is paid advertising by James Capello for District Judge.

I’m James Capello, and I am a candidate for Magisterial District Judge #52-2-01 in Lebanon City. 

I believe my life experience, along with my educational and personal background, makes me well qualified to serve the people of Lebanon City, and I would like to share my story to help voters better understand what I’d bring to the role. 

I lived in Jonestown until age 6, raised by a single mother. Although money was tight, my mom taught me and my younger brother that there are more important things in life. We moved to the City of Lebanon in 1997, when my mom, Sherry, married Tom Capello, and he adopted us. 

Over the years I often went to the office with my dad and learned about the difficult decisions a judge has to make and the importance of impartiality in making those decisions. 

I attended schools in the Lebanon School District where I was provided many opportunities and lifelong memories. One experience that stands out occurred in 5th grade, when I received the 2002 Valor Award from the Lebanon County Firemen’s Association for saving a choking classmate’s life by performing the Heimlich maneuver, which my grandpop taught me. Making the award even more significant to me was the fact that my father, now-retired District Judge Thomas Capello, had earned the award 20 years prior for rescuing city residents from a fire. 

At Lebanon High School I was a point guard for the basketball team and starting quarterback for the football team. Participating in sports taught me teamwork and dedication. I lead our teams to district and state playoffs and earned a scholarship to Iowa State University. I also was fortunate to be chosen to play in the Big 33. Ten years after graduating from Lebanon High, I received a Hall of Fame award for athletic accomplishments. I remain extremely grateful to my coaches and teachers at Lebanon High School for providing a rewarding educational experience.

In college, I joined the Army National Guard and served my country for 6 years as an Infantryman. One out-of-ordinary duty was guarding Pope Francis when he visited Philadelphia in 2015. Serving in the National Guard provided both valuable life lessons and lifelong friendships. 

I earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice studies, became certified as a Pennsylvania State Constable and worked as a central booking agent for the district attorney’s office until I decided to follow in my father’s footsteps and attend the Police Academy. Upon graduating, I was hired by the Lycoming County District Attorney’s Office as an undercover narcotics detective. As part of this job, I attended preliminary hearings, obtained warrants and testified before the local district judge and county judges. 

In July 2018 I returned to Lebanon City to be closer to my son. My dad retired in January 2019 after 30 years of service, with the intention of helping to care for my young niece, who was born with a rare, fatal disease. Unfortunately, COVID-19 and the quarantines that followed put a stop on those plans. My niece died on Christmas day 2020.

James’ son, Jayce pledging to the flag.

After my dad officially announced his retirement, I attended the 4-week required schooling at my own expense and received my PA Magisterial District Judge Certification by the Minor Judiciary Education Board. With these credentials, I am the only candidate in the race for magisterial district judge in Lebanon City who is certified to serve on day one.

For many, the district court is the first interaction they have with our judicial system. Every person who walks into the courtroom should be ensured that it is a fair process. 

For that reason, I did not ask for endorsement from the Lebanon County Fraternal Order of Police. A Judge must always act in a manner consistent with the “independence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.” In other words, a judge must be open-minded and not be influenced by connections to outside organizations, or appear to be influenced by outside connections. To illustrate the point, how comfortable would you be contesting a traffic ticket if you knew the judge was endorsed and openly supported by the FOP? Or would you automatically assume that the judge would favor the police who supported his or her election? 

The Lebanon community has supported me in many ways. I recognize and value this. Now, I am committed to giving back through service as Magisterial District Judge #52-2-01, and I respectfully ask for your vote.