For the first time in a quarter century, Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck has a race on his hands.
Republican Nicole Ziccarelli, fresh off a razor-thin defeat in a bid for state Senate last fall, insists it’s time to change leadership in the county prosecutors office.
“I respect the current district attorney very much, but after this much time, I believe we need a change in leadership and the time is now,” Ziccarelli said.
Peck, 74, of New Kensington has long political roots in Westmoreland County. His father served as county sheriff for more than a decade. After spending several years in the public defender’s office, Peck served as a part-time assistant district attorney and continued in that role until he was appointed to the top job. He won his first full four-year term in 1997.
He said the game hasn’t passed him by and his 40-years as a prosecutor is the steady hand county residents need.
“I don’t think this is any different from my past Republican or Democratic challengers who also had no experience in doing the job,” Peck said.
For Peck, that experience includes years in the courtroom as the office’s top prosecutor who has handled nearly every high-profile criminal case in the county since he was first appointed to the job by county judges. In 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic halted trials throughout much of 2020, Peck served as lead attorney in five murder cases that went before juries. All ended with convictions.
He said he has no intention of slowing down and will continue to try cases into a seventh term.
Ziccarelli said she sees the district attorney’s job, at least for now, as an administrative post.