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Do your homework and vote in race for Schuyler judge

Residents can vote early this year and meet candidates at an Oct. 24 forum

By Jim Reed
Managing partner
Ziff Law Firm, Elmira

Election Day is Nov. 5, but early voting -- new this year in New York state -- begins Saturday, Oct. 26, and continues through Sunday, Nov. 3, in Schuyler County. That means residents have more opportunities to vote -- and fewer excuses not to go to the polls. You can't just say you're too busy to vote on Election Day anymore with so many other choices.

There aren't many contested races in Schuyler County this fall, so I fear many residents will likely still consider staying home, even with multiple days and times to vote. But I still urge residents to let their voices be heard this fall because there is at least one race that should drive all county residents eligible to vote to the polls -- the countywide race for Schuyler County Judge, to replace retired Judge Dennis Morris.

There are four candidates for judge and they deserve a closer look and a thoughtful vote because the choice of the county court judge is a very important one. It's a 10-year term and, more importantly, at some point, you or someone you love may come in contact with the judge and the court because the judge handles family and criminal court cases and civil court matters like estate work. So the court isn't just for criminal cases; it impacts Schuyler families in many ways.

Don't let your choice be determined strictly by political party. Unlike most politicians, the choice of judge is someone who is expected to be apolitical. Take some time and learn more about the candidates.

On Thursday, Oct. 24, residents may get to hear from all four judge candidates during a “Meet the Candidates" forum in the Watkins Glen Elementary School auditorium. The 6:30 p.m. event hopes to feature candidates from all contested races in the county. The candidates who plan to attend have been told to prepare timed presentations and answer audience questions.

To learn more about voting days and hours and what races are on the ballot, go to the Schuyler County Board of Elections website.

Here is a brief summary of the four candidates for judge, based on information on their websites:

Matthew C. Hayden (Party lines, Democrat, Working Families/Schuyler First, and Serve America Movement): Hayden has been the Schuyler County Chief Assistant District Attorney since 2004 and was named the New York State Prosecutor of the Year in 2013. Hayden is Chairman of the Schuyler County Chamber, the Schuyler County Community Services Board, and the Schuyler Health Foundation.

Daniel J. Fitzsimmons (Party line, Home Town Law): Fitzsimmons is the founder of the Fitzsimmons Law Firm and Schuyler County Law Guardian Office. He was Hector Town Judge for eight years, until 2018, and in 2018, was appointed principal court attorney for Schuyler County courts.

Steven J. Getman (Party lines, Republican and Libertarian): Getman has been County Attorney for Schuyler since 2015, and was Assistant County Attorney from 2012 to 2015. He has also served as an attorney for children in Schuyler County Family Court and has been a member of the Schuyler County Assigned Counsel Panel, representing clients in criminal and family courts.

Jessica M. Saks (Party lines, Independence and About Justice): Saks has experience in family courts, including guardianship, custody, child protective, and divorce cases, and also handles civil litigation, criminal defense cases, and real estate and property law.

Thanks for reading,


Photo in text: Attorney Jim Reed.


Recent columns by Jim Reed:

The Catharine Valley Trail is a jewel of the FLX

Seneca Lake boaters, do you have enough liability insurance?

Be prepared to act quickly after a motor vehicle crash

WNY snowmobile crashes put spotlight on dangers

Getting to the truth about medical malpractice cases

Recent column by Ziff Law’s Mike Brown:

Cayuta man and his family face many challenges ahead




© The Odessa File 2019
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869