DUNCANSVILLE - With more than 100 of his supporters jammed into a small meeting room at the Comfort Inn near Duncansville, Blair County Deputy District Attorney Wade Kagarise on Monday announced his intention to run for a seat on the Blair County Court of Common Pleas.
The 39-year-old Kagarise, who grew up in Hollidaysburg, emphasized that as a member of the district attorney's staff for the past 14 years, he has seen changes in the community.
"I don't need to tell all of you that things are not what they used to be," he said.
There are more murder cases, including double and triple homicides, Kagarise said.
There is the increase in drug abuse, not just in cocaine and heroin addiction, but in designer drugs like "Blizzard."
Custody cases, Kagarise said, do not just involve disputes between mothers and fathers over who will raise a child, but sometimes between drug-addicted moms and dads and between grandparents attempting to raise children.
Rather than be pessimistic about what is occurring, Kagarise said, "We have to stand up and work together" to address what is happening in today's society.
"This campaign," he said, "is about asking our county to rise up together, to make the county safer and stronger."
"The strongest communities are ones where everyone, including parents and teachers, pastors and priests, law enforcement and judges understand our shared responsibility. I intend to be a full partner and ally for every citizen who is taking a stand for justice in Blair County," Kagarise said.
A 1991 graduate of Hollidaysburg Area High School, and a 1995 graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Kagarise received his law degree from Widener University School of Law in Harrisburg. In 1998, he joined the Blair County District Attorney's staff.
He also has his own law office in Hollidaysburg, where he handles domestic, labor and civil matters.
Kagarise, a Republican state committeeman, received the support of a large number of elected officials Monday, including Blair County District Attorney Richard A. Consiglio, Bedford County District Attorney William Higgins, Altoona Mayor Bill Schirf, former Altoona mayors Tom Martin and Wayne Hippo, Blair County Deputy District Attorney Jackie Bernard, Jury Commissioner Joy Foreman, Register and Recorder Mary Ann Bennis and State Rep. John McGinnis, R-Altoona.
Sheriff Mitchell Cooper hosted the announcement, calling Kagarise "very knowledgeable," and stating he was supporting Kagarise because of his passion for the job and because "his integrity is above reproach."
Kagarise is vying for the judicial seat vacated by Judge Hiram A. Carpenter, who is retiring this week after 23 years as a judge.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.