A York City man running for district judge cites his two DUI arrests as a reason he'll be a different -- and better -- kind of judge for York City's District 19-1-05.

Tom Harteis, a 46-year-old West King Street resident, said he'll be able to empathize with the residents who appear before him.

"As a minority and as a person who has had personal difficulties, I can tell them, 'You're in trouble now, but you can make your life better if you work hard,'" he said. "I got into some trouble after high school, but I had to grow up and get my act together."

Harteis, a production supervisor at Greenline Foods in Hanover, said he had to change his life. He went back to school later in life as a non-traditional student, getting a bachelor's degree in political science from York College at the age of 35 in 2002.

Experience: A college internship with the Fair Housing Council in Harrisburg inspired him to pursue becoming a magistrate, he said.

As an advocate for tenants in landlord/tenant disputes, he spent a lot of time in courtrooms and learned the process, and landlord/tenant disputes represent a portion of the cases heard at the office for which he's running, he said.

Last summer, he took a test and was issued a magisterial district judge certification, he said.

"When I got certified, on my days off, I sat in courtrooms at magisterial districts, just listening ... sometimes I sat there as long as they would have me."

Changes: If elected, Harteis will be diligent in making sure cases make it to their preliminary hearings before there's a risk of offenders being released on little bail.

"If it's not done in a timely manner, some are released on bail when they shouldn't be," he said. "I'm not saying offices have been doing it wrong, I'm just saying."

He would also reconfigure schedules to make sure they make the most sense for police officers who need to testify. It costs taxpayer money to delay the officers, and "when they're tied up in court, they're not out patrolling the streets."

Harteis said blighted properties would also be a priority.

He would work with homeowners to delay the issuance of fines, offering incentives for them to repair their properties.

"The neighbors don't want it punitive, they want that hole to be fixed," he said. "The main idea is to get the work done."

Running as a Democrat, Harteis will face off against Democrat Joel Toluba and Kathy Doucette, who has cross-filed as a Republican and Democrat.

-- Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.