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Boone, Beachley win judge seats

September 16, 1998|By TERRY TALBERT

Voters chose to stick with experience Tuesday night when they picked incumbent Judges W. Kennedy Boone III and Donald E. Beachley to serve full 15-year terms on the Washington County Circuit Court bench.

Boone, 56, and Beachley, 41, were appointed to the bench in 1997.

Both judges' seats were up for grabs. Their only challenger was Hagerstown lawyer Gregory C. Bannon, 45, who has practiced law in Hagerstown since 1978, but had no prior experience on the bench.

Bannon made it a close race.

The three candidates were on both the Republican and Democratic ballots in the nonpartisan election. Their primary wins mean there will be no general election for the seats.

Bannon lost a bid to unseat one of the judges when he finished third behind the incumbents on both ballots.

Complete but unofficial election results showed Beachley with 5,835 votes, Boone with 5,299 votes and Bannon with 4,473 votes in the Democratic primary.

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In the Republican primary, Boone got 4,753 votes, Beachley 5,422 votes, and Bannon 4,401 votes.

Beachley was out picking up campaign signs and unavailable for comment after the votes were counted. Boone, speaking for himself and Beachley, said, "We are certainly happy. We're happy it's over. We were prepared to go to November if necessary."

Boone said he felt the campaign was handled fairly and honorably. "There was no muckraking or anything like that," he said.

"The jury has returned the verdict, and I accept that verdict," Bannon said.

He thanked his supporters for sticking by him, and said he would continue to fight the practice of judges being appointed by the governor.

The first contested judicial race in the county since 1978 pitted the sitting judges, who ran as a slate, against Bannon, who was openly critical of the judicial appointment process.

Bannon withdrew his name from consideration for the last Circuit Court vacancy, which was filled by Boone, in protest over the process. He had said he was upset that Gov. Parris Glendening refused to interview him for the Circuit Court job, deciding instead to use notes taken during an earlier interview with Bannon for a District Court vacancy.

Bannon was not chosen for that job.

Boone was named to fill a new fourth judgeship in Washington County Circuit Court in April 1997. Boone had been a partner with Wachs, Boone and Schubel since 1973. During a 29-year career as a lawyer, he served in the Maryland Attorney General's Office and the Washington County State's Attorneys office.

Beachley was appointed to the Circuit Court bench in November 1997. He began practicing law in Hagerstown in 1980. He served as a U.S. magistrate for almost four years.

Circuit Court judges make $96,500 a year.

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