Charles A. Pascal Jr.
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|Mayor of Leechburg, PA|
|Preceded by||Jane Favero (D)|
|Succeeded by||Anthony Roppolo (D)|
December 24, 1963|
Charles A. Pascal Jr. (Chuck Pascal) of Leechburg, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, was born December 24, 1963. An attorney, Pascal graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law with a Juris Doctor degree.
A progressive Democrat, Pascal was elected to several terms on the school board of the Leechburg Area School District and served in that position from 1987 to 2003. As a school board member, he was outspoken on several issues of statewide concern, including tax reform, equitable funding of public education, curriculum reform, reducing commercialism in schools, banning soft drinks in schools, opposition to standardized testing, and a number of other progressive issues.
As a school board member, Pascal proposed several policy changes which were adopted, including banning corporal punishment, instituting a community service requirement for students, and banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (making Leechburg the first rural district in the state to do so). In 1990, he led an effort to shut down district schools for a day in protest of the lack of adequate state funding for education in then-Gov. Robert P. Casey's state budget, which prompted the state Secretary of Education and Commissioner of Basic Education to visit Leechburg and meet with school board members about their concerns. In 1995, he was elected as a vice president of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
He won the Democratic primary election for Armstrong County commissioner in 1999, coming in second in a five-candidate race. However, he fell 285 votes short in the fall, losing to the three incumbent commissioners.
In 2001, Pascal reversed an earlier decision to not seek re-election to the school board after the primary election, and filed suit against the Armstrong County Board of Elections to gain access to the ballot. The case, The Public Interest v. Armstrong County Board of Elections, resulted in a ruling from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania that a provision of Pennsylvania election law saying that a candidate must disaffiliate from a political party in order to run as a "third party" candidate was ruled to be unconstitutional as applied to offices for which candidates may crossfile. As a result, Pascal appeared on the ballot as a candidate for "The Public Interest" party and won re-election to a two-year term. The ruling in the case, which is still binding in Armstrong County, was used again in 2007 when two candidates for the school board supported by Pascal gained access to the ballot on The Public Interest label and won election to the school board in the general election.
Pascal served as Mayor of Leechburg from 2006-2009, and was elected as a member of Leechburg borough council in 2017.
In 2016, Pascal was the Authorized Representative to the Pennsylvania Democratic Party for the Bernie Sanders for President campaign, responsible for choosing delegates for Sanders. He was also a "Party Leaders and Elected Officials" (PLEO) Delegate to the Democratic National Convention for Sanders, as well as a member of the Democratic Party's national Platform Committee.
As a member of the Platform Committee, Pascal proposed numerous amendments to the draft platform, all of which were adopted. The amendments dealt with issues such as voter-verified paper ballots, the school-to-prison pipeline, supporting public employee unions, funding for indigent defense, and restorative discipline practices in schools.In addition, Pascal's amendments regarding opposition to standardized testing and opposition to privatization of education and charter schools were also adopted, the latter proposed on the floor as a "unity amendment" with Clinton delegate Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). The adoption of Pascal's education amendments earned the ire of neoliberal pro-charter and pro-privatization forces, such as the hedge-funded group Democrats for Education Reform (DFER).
Pascal was elected to the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee in 2002, and served in that position until 2006. In 2005, he sponsored a resolution at the State Committee which denounced the recently passed Pennsylvania legislative pay raise, which put him at odds with party legislative leaders who supported it, including Democratic State Chair T.J. Rooney. Pascal was again elected to Democratic State Committee from Armstrong County in 2014, receiving more votes than any other candidate for any office on the ballot in the 2014 primary. He was re-elected to this position in 2018.
Pascal was elected Mayor of Leechburg in 2005, and served for one term. In 2007, Pascal was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination for Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Armstrong County, winning six municipalities and garnering approximately 16% of the vote in a four-candidate primary election.
As Mayor, Pascal focused on obtaining grants for the Borough. Some of the grants Pascal helped obtain enabled the construction of a basketball court for public use and the purchase of a new fire siren. He also was instrumental in getting a previously rejected grant application approved in order to complete reconstruction of the Campbell Avenue Playground, which had been closed for several years due to safety concerns.
As head of the police department, Pascal supported returning the force to three full-time officers for the first time in many years, and has supported maintaining the borough's 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week police coverage. Leechburg is one of only three Armstrong County communities to have full-time police coverage. During his term as mayor, the police department received several grants to upgrade the department's equipment, including new radios and computers, office equipment, tasers, stop sticks, and other items. Just before leaving office, Pascal was instrumental in getting a grant for the police department to purchase a new patrol vehicle.
Pascal was also a member of the board of directors of FLAG, the Freeport Leechburg Apollo Group, a nonprofit corporation focused on revitalization of the downtown areas of all three communities. The revitalization effort was led by leaders of all three communities, as well as then State Senator Jim Ferlo.
Mayor Pascal also signed on to the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, focusing on local action to curb the effects of global warming.
Pascal and two other individuals sued former Lieutenant Governor Robert Jubelirer in 2002 after Jubelirer ascended to the position when Mark Schweiker became governor. Jubelirer was serving simultaneously as Lieutenant Governor and a State Senator, and the suit sought to remove Jubelirer from one of the positions, citing separation of powers issues. The Pennsylvania State Supreme Court rejected the argument and issued a per curiam decision  allowing Jubelirer to hold both offices simultaneously.
As a Democratic Party leader, Pascal has criticized the positions of elected Democrats on many issues on which he feels those Democrats are not upholding Democratic "core values." He has been critical of Democratic support for making it easier to turn off people's utilities in Pennsylvania, and making it possible to turn them off in the winter. In addition, he has criticized Democratic support for banning municipalities from creating their own WiFi networks and other telecommunications services.
As an attorney, Pascal practices criminal defense and civil law, and is known as one of a handful of attorneys who is an expert in Pennsylvania election law, having litigated many election-related cases in several counties and in Pennsylvania appellate courts.
Among those he has represented in election matters are Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner, State Senator Jim Ferlo, State Representative Erin Molchany, Pittsburgh City Councilman and Mayoral candidate Bill Peduto, Congressional candidate Erin McClelland, and Philadelphia City Controller candidate Rebecca Rhynhart.
In 2011, Pascal represented citizens in a challenge to the electoral regionis from which school board members were elected in the Armstrong School District, claiming that the regions violate the state and federal constitutions, as well as state law, due to their unequal populations. The number of regions was reduced from nine to three, and reapportioned, resulting in a complete turnover of the majority of the Board of Directors from one favoring renovation of many small buildings to one favoring consolidation of schools.
Pascal also represented a number of citizens in one of 13 appeals in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the redistricting plan for the Pennsylvania house and senate adopted by the Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission.
He made statewide news when he found a loophole in state law which called into question the validity of every parking ticket written in Pennsylvania. As a result, municipalities in Pennsylvania scurried to have their parking meters certified for accuracy, as was required by law, earning Pascal the "Consumer of the Year" award from the Pennsylvania Association of Weights and Measures.
In 2006, Pascal was the attorney in a case which received statewide attention (Kuznik v. Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania) in which he represented several citizens and State Senator Jim Ferlo challenging the purchase of electronic voting machines by counties without voter referendum as was required by the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Also in 2006, Pascal represented several members of the board of directors of PACleansweep (a group founded to oppose the legislative pay raise) who sued the group's founder, Russ Diamond. Diamond attempted to remove five of the ten members of PACleanSweep's Board of Directors. Diamond requested the resignations of all board members, and cut off access to those who refused. Diamond continued to operate PACleanSweep, with the assistance of board members who had submitted their resignations, over the protests of many in the reform movement.
The board members who did not resign from the board of the nonprofit corporation sued Diamond for violating nonprofit corporation law and the organization's charter. A Lebanon County judge declared that the four board members Diamond attempted to add were not legal directors of PACleanSweep, and ordered that corporate access and voting rights be returned to the rightful Board of Directors.
Pascal also made news in Armstrong County when his former opponents in the 1999 county commissioners' race voted to raise their own pensions by 50% in 2003 as they were leaving office. Pascal filed suit on behalf of more than 50 plaintiffs challenging the action (Bell v. Armstrong County Board of Commissioners). As a result, the action of the commissioners was voided, saving Armstrong County taxpayers over $500,000.
Another significant cases in Armstrong County in which Pascal was involved include an attempt to stop the foreclosure on land owned by Ford City Borough, and a challenge to the constitutionality of the business privilege tax in Ford City Borough.
In 2009, Pascal, along with Attorney Debra Yost, represented Frederick Robinson, who was accused of setting a house on fire, resulting in the deaths of a woman and her three children in 2005. The case involved questions about the cause of the fire, as well as the "confession" given by Robinson, which Pascal and Yost argued was a "false confession." Although Pascal and Yost wanted to call an expert in false confessions to testify, Armstrong County Judge James Panchik ruled that they could not do so. In April, 2009, after a two-week trial, a jury in Armstrong County found Robinson not guilty, and he was released from jail after serving several years in jail awaiting trial.
Pascal was named a "Rising Star/Superlawyer" in 2010 by Philadelphia Magazine and Law and Politics Magazine.
- Miller, Michael (2005-09-05). "Armstrong Democrats Take Action on Pay Raise, help for relocated Katrina Victims". PoliticsPA.com. Armstrong County Democratic Committee.
- Lawless v. Jubelirer, 811 A.2d 974 (Pa. 2002)
- PA Association of Weights and Measures (2006). "2006 PAWM CONFERENCE REPORT".
- "Voting Machines Lawsuit Goes Before Pa. Supreme Court". WTAE-TV. 2006-03-01.
- Miller, Michael (2004-04-27). "Settlement possible in pension case". Leader Times.