Clifton Park town justice candidate ‘troubled’ by opponent’s acceptance of Saratoga Co. Sheriff’s endorsement

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CLIFTON PARK – A candidate for town justice said Sunday she’s troubled her opponent accepted an endorsement from the sheriff of Saratoga County.

Jennifer Jeram is running for town justice on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines against Judge James Hughes, a Republican who has served in the role since 1982. Hughes has not had an opponent since 1997.

Jeram said she takes issue with Hughes’ acceptance of Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo’s endorsement, since the sheriff’s office regularly appears in Clifton Park Town Court for the prosecution of traffic tickets and crimes. 

“If my friend or family member found themselves in the Clifton Park Town Court following an arrest by the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, I’m not sure I would want him to hear the case,” Jeram said in a statement.  

Hughes, who circulated the endorsement on social media, did not immediately respond to an e-mail left Sunday. 

Zurlo did not respond to a voicemail.

In her statement, Jeram said, she was “struck by how poorly the acceptance of this endorsement reflects on the  judiciary.”

Citing the rules of judicial conduct, she said a judge is to avoid the appearance  of impropriety in all of his or her activities and is to “act at all times  in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”

Jeram, an attorney in the state court system, said the endorsement and the apparent camaraderie between Judge Hughes and Zurlo underscored the need for change in Town Court.  

“I do wish to note that I in no way blame the Saratoga County Sheriff for offering the endorsement  – it is my opponent who should have declined,” the statement read.

Jeram also expressed disappointment with what she said is Hughes’ unwillingness to participate in a forum that would allow voters to get to know both of their positions in the overall race.

The League of Women Voters is not including judicial candidates in their forums this year.

Jeram shared an email exchange with Hughes in which she invited him to participate in a forum during which both candidates could talk about themselves and allow the public to ask questions.

“Really NOT INTERESTED,” the incumbent replied.

Contact reporter Brian Lee at [email protected] or 518-419-9766.

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