Traci DiMezza made history Tuesday night, becoming the first woman to be elected City Court judge in Gloversville.
“It makes me feel very proud,” DiMezza, 42, said Wednesday morning.
There is a second female City Court judge, Joan Antonik, but she was appointed to the part-time position. The full-time judgeship carries a 10-year term and pays $127,400 annually.
On election day, DiMezza defeated John Clo, 2,148-1,810, according to unofficial results provided by the Fulton County Board of Elections. DiMezza, an attorney in private practice, ran on the Republican, Conservative and Justice party lines. Clo ran as a third-party candidate on the Truth and Honor line, with support from Democrats.
A total of 324 absentee ballots remain uncounted in the race, and 95 more absentee ballots have not been returned to the Board of Elections. The deadline for doing so is Nov. 19. Board of Elections officials said the odds are against Clo obtaining enough absentee ballots to change the outcome.
The board will open the ballots once a court order impounding them has been lifted. U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, obtained the court order Tuesday, expecting a tight race in the 21st Congressional District; the race was close but he won it, negating the need for the recount.
Mayor Dayton King appointed Clo as City Court judge in December to replace retiring Judge Vincent DeSantis, and he backed Clo in the race for the permanent seat. Tuesday night, he visited DiMezza and congratulated her on her victory.
Clo had no comment when contacted Wednesday morning. He said he has not contacted DiMezza to concede the race.
DiMezza said she waited anxiously for results to come in Tuesday night.
“Waiting for the results put me on edge,” she said.
She told supporters she did not want to hear results come in district-by-district but instead wanted to be told the results all at once. Her sister got a text message from a worker stationed at the Fulton County Board of Elections at 9:54 p.m., nearly an hour after the polls closed, announcing the results.
“It was ‘Congratulations Judge DiMezza,’ ” DiMezza said. With that, the “room literally erupted. It was quite a scene.”
For DiMezza, the victory fulfilled a promise she had made to her 12-year-old daughter, Honor, a year ago. When she contemplated running for the seat, DiMezza said she was conflicted.
“I knew last March Judge DeSantis was retiring,” she explained. “I talked to the mayor and discussed my candidacy with him. When I discovered he had appointed John, there was a period when I thought about running or not running.”
Then something her daughter said changed her mind.
“She said, ‘Mom, don’t run. Don’t do it because you could lose,’ ” DiMezza said with emotion in her voice. “Then I said to her, ‘I am going to run to show you that you should not not try something for fear of failure.’ ”
On Wednesday, her daughter said she was “so happy” for her mother’s victory. DiMezza and her husband, Joe, a retired Gloversville firefighter, also have a second daughter.
The victory also means DiMezza can exit the political realm once again.
“I was not political before this, and I will not be political after this,” she said. “I attended my first political club meeting a year ago, when I was contemplating a bid for the seat. One of the perks [of the victory] is I will not have to attend a political club meeting again.”
DiMezza said she became political because she needed to run on a party line and had sought the endorsement of the city Republican Committee. Now, with her election to office, she intends to move away from politics.
“That is one of the things I stressed in my campaign, that the judiciary is distinct and separate and that is how it should be,” she said.
As a judge, she plans to be “firm, yet fair. I have always believed in a strong law-and-order philosophy, but you have to take each case separately and judge the case on its merits.”
As for now, DiMezza said she has no ambition for higher judicial office. To her, being a City Court judge is the fulfillment of a longtime dream.
“It is something I always wanted to aspire to. From the time I was 16 and I knew I wanted to study law and knew I wanted to follow that career choice, I wanted to be a judge,” she said.
She said she plans to devote her time as judge to “figuring out how the court works and how to make it work better and to dispensing justice to people in city.”