Rick Russo

The race for magisterial judge of Lawrence County’s District 53-3-04 started out in the spring primary election with five contenders.

The field narrowed to two for the general election, and the voters ultimately picked a retired police officer as their choice for the position, according to Tuesday’s unofficial election results.

Rick Russo of Neshannock Township, a Republican who retired as a lieutenant from the New Castle Police Department, was the victor in the race with 4,489 unofficial votes, topping those of Nikki Wehr Christopher of Shenango Township, who trailed with 3,585. Christopher is an attorney.

Russo, as the unofficial winner of the district judge race, is set to succeed District Judge Scott McGrath, who will retire Dec. 31.

His jurisdiction includes the townships of Neshannock, Shenango, Hickory, Plain Grove, Scott, Washington, Pulaski and Wilmington, as well as the boroughs of South New Castle, New Wilmington and Volant.

The district judge office merged a year ago with the district previously served by now senior district judge David B. Rishel, who retired in 2017.

The change was the result of a redistricting that eliminated Rishel’s district and added five more municipalities to McGrath’s jurisdiction.

The district judge office is located in the center of the Allshouse plaza on Wilmington Road at Mitchell Road in Neshannock Township. 

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