Schenectady County

Powers prevails in tight Supreme Court race

Schenectady County Family Court Judge Mark Powers is now expected to win in his bid to become a s...
Mark Powers, left, and Timothy Lawliss
Mark Powers, left, and Timothy Lawliss

Schenectady County Family Court Judge Mark Powers is now expected to win in his bid to become a state Supreme Court justice, according to numbers released Monday.

Powers had been waiting since Election Day for more than 27,000 absentee and other ballots to be counted after initial totals showed him with a lead of about 1,400.

Now all the ballots have been counted and Powers’ lead grew to just over 4,000, according to a spokesman for the state Board of Elections. All that’s left is for the results to be formally certified, which is expected Thursday.

Powers said Monday he’s waiting for the numbers to be final, but he’s grateful for the opportunity and he congratulated his opponent, Clinton County Family Court Judge Timothy Lawliss, on a good race.

“I really look forward to this opportunity,” Powers said Monday. “I have a lot of people to thank.”

Contacted later Monday, Lawliss conceded defeat.

“It was a good, close election,” said Lawliss, who will continue in his Clinton County Family Court role, said. “Obviously I’m disappointed in the outcome, but such is life.”

Powers won on his fourth bid for a state Supreme Court judgeship, previous unsuccess runs in 1997, 2012 and 2013. He’s been a Schenectady County Family Court judge since 2002.

State Supreme Court justices can hear a variety of civil and criminal cases. In addition to Schenectady and Montgomery counties, the 4th Judicial District covers Saratoga and Fulton counties and several others located between Schenectady and the Canadian border. It is an area that is home to an estimated 840,000 people.

Powers said he has spoken with district Administrative Judge Vito Caruso and he expects to be assigned, at least initially, to his opponent’s home county of Clinton.

The Supreme Court seat was vacated when Justice John A. Lahtinen, who served on the Appellate Division, retired.

Powers’ victory now is expected to set off a race for his Family Court judgeship. Gov. Andrew Cuomo will have the option to appoint a replacement. Either way, voters will get to decide Powers’ longer-term replacement next November.

Democrat Jill Polk won the most recent Schenectady County Family Court race in 2014, beating attorneys Deanna Siegel and Ursula Hall for the newly created third Family Court post in the county. Polk won the Democratic line that year by defeating Hall and attorneys Patricia Rodriguez and Bruce Trachtenberg.

Schenectady County’s other Family Court judge is Kevin Burke. He won election in 2013, defeating Polk in the primaries before winning the general election unopposed.

Burke’s spot came open when Judge Christine Clark herself became a state Supreme Court justice in January 2013. Gov. Cuomo had the option to appoint a replacement that year for Clark, but chose not to.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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