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Fight erupts over judges’ slogan

Fight erupts over judges’ slogan

A campaign slogan has become a campaign issue in Saratoga County’s family court judge race.

A campaign slogan has become a campaign issue in Saratoga County’s family court judge race.

Challenger Kurt Mausert, an attorney with offices in Saratoga Springs, is hoping to replace Courtenay Hall, a first-term judge running for re-election.

Mausert has accused Hall of usurping the slogan, “A family man for Family Court.”

Mausert said his campaign Web site was launched on April 1 and on the first page is the copyright notice that all contents, including the slogan, were protected by copyright law and belonged to his campaign committee.

All of Mausert’s campaign literature has included the slogan, he said.

Hall referred his response to his campaign committee chairman, Jeffrey Bagnoli.

Bagnoli said the accusation is false and a press release detailing Mausert’s opinions on the matter is a violation of the judicial code of conduct.

The allegations in that press release are “patently untrue,” Bagnoli said. “Judge Hall used the slogan ‘A family man for Family Court’ 10 years ago when he ran for the office for the first time.”

The press release includes the question, “Is Courtenay Hall a thief?” Bagnoli said that is defamatory.

Mausert said the question does not defame the judge.

“It’s not defamatory, it’s a question,” Mausert said. “I’m asking the question, do the people think my slogan was stolen?”

Mausert, a Democrat who will also appear on the Working Families Party line, is challenging Hall, a Republican who also has the Conservative Party line.

The two men are in a primary race this month for the Independence Party line.

Mausert said he has campaigned door-to-door for months and has passed out literature with the slogan. Hall’s literature, he said, has only been circulated for a week or two, and having the same slogan will confuse voters.

“You have two tall, thin, bald white guys running for the same office. If you met me five weeks ago and then received his literature today with the same message on it, it’s going to be confusing,” Mausert said. “I was out there meeting people and campaigning when he was home sitting on his ass.”

Bagnoli said many male family court judge candidates have referred to themselves as family men during campaigns for office.

“It’s like someone running for Congress saying it’s time for a change. It’s a common slogan,” Bagnoli said. “Kurt is really out of bounds with this kind of campaign. I’ve never seen a judicial candidate use such negative tactics, especially someone running for family court.”

Mausert said he is trying to set the record straight with voters so they know for whom they’re voting.

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