Hoping to provide constituents with a positive first contact within the local judicial system, Jordan Knisley, a local attorney, is running for magisterial district justice of Northampton County. Primary elections for the role take place on May 18.
Although Knisley identifies as a Democrat, she is running under both parties as judicial candidates have the ability to cross-file. In this particular race, there is no Republican candidate and Knisley was the only candidate to get enough bipartisan support to be on both tickets.
Having attended Fountain Hill Elementary School, Broughal Middle School and Liberty High School, Knisley was born and raised in the local community. She first left Bethlehem to attend the University of Delaware where she earned her undergraduate degree in economics. She later attended Villanova Law School and then came back to Bethlehem.
Knisley said her interest in law developed at an early age.
“I do have an uncle who is an attorney so at family dinners and on holidays, I would always hear stories about being a lawyer and what it was like,” Knisley said. “I think at a young age I decided I wanted to be a lawyer because I have a real interest in people.”
Currently, Knisley works part time as a public defender at her uncle’s private practice.
“She’s always very dedicated to her clients, whether they’re public defender clients, or private clients,” said Harry DeWalt, Knisley’s uncle and employer. “She gives them both the same amount of respect and the same amount of dedication.”
DeWalt said Knisley’s work ethic and extreme fair-mindedness are aspects of her personality that have been prevalent since she was a child.
Knisley frames her profession as one of human interest, allowing for a translation of her people-centric attitude into her career.
“I’m a people person,” Knisley said. “I’m very interested in people, getting to know people and trying to help people to the best of my ability. Law seemed like the perfect fit for me and my abilities.”
Brian Lucas, ‘22, has been assisting Knisley in her race by helping her tap into the votes of the Lehigh student body.
“Her legal experience speaks for itself and shows why she’s qualified for the position,” Lucas said. “The fact that she’s practiced under so many different legal disciplines, I think, makes her a very attractive candidate.”
As a candidate, Knisley believes it is important for an individual’s contact with the magistrate’s office to be a positive experience because it is often their first point of contact with the judicial system.
She said if we set that positive tone upfront, everybody involved is going to have a better experience and they’re going to get a better result.
“It’s so important to me, that when people come into their local magistrate, in South Side Bethlehem, that they are treated with respect, are welcomed and that people are not treated like criminals just because they are charged with crimes,” Knisley said. “Everybody is entitled to a fair hearing.”
Recognizing that South Bethlehem is an underprivileged and underserved community, Knisley said she hopes to help the area through her office.
“We just need somebody who really is going to focus on that underserved community and make sure that the law is applied equally and equitably,” Knisley said. “That is really why I am running for this seat.”