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What you need to know for 07/20/2017

Five seek seat on Schenectady County Family Court bench

Five seek seat on Schenectady County Family Court bench

The race for Schenectady County’s newest Family Court judgeship has grown crowded, as a total of fiv

The race for Schenectady County’s newest Family Court judgeship has grown crowded, as a total of five candidates filed paperwork by Thursday’s deadline to get their spot on the September primary ballot.

The only major-party primary, though, will be on the Democratic side, as four of the five candidates filed for the Democratic line, election officials said: Ursula Hall, Bruce Trachtenberg, Patricia Rodriguez and Jill Polk.

Only one candidate, Deanna Siegel, filed to run on the Republican line.

Schenectady County Election Commissioner Brian Quail noted the number of candidates running is unusual, even for an open seat, but said a primary is not unusual. In the last two races for an open Family Court seat in Schenectady County, Democratic primaries, both times with just two candidates.

“It’s rather common to have a primary,” Quail said. “It is a little unusual to have a four-way primary.”

The primary election will be Sept. 9.

The judgeship is open because it was created only last month. The state Legislature approved 20 new Family Court judgeships statewide. Schenectady and Albany counties were deemed to have the greatest need in this area.

The petitioning period was moved back to give candidates enough time to get signatures, making the deadline to file Thursday.

In addition to the Democratic line, more than one candidate filed for three other lines.

Hall and Siegel filed for the Conservative Party line; Hall, Trachtenberg and Siegel filed for the Working Families line; and Hall and Siegel filed for the Green Party line.

Those wishing to file could do so by mail as long as their paperwork was postmarked by Thursday, meaning there may actually be more candidates, but election officials consider that unlikely.

The candidates:

• Hall is the endorsed Democratic candidate. She is currently the court attorney for Schenectady County Family Court Judge Kevin Burke and previously worked as a county attorney focusing on child custody and neglect cases.

• Polk ran for the open Family Court judgeship last year, losing the primary to Burke, who then ran unopposed in the general election. She is a senior attorney for the state Commission on Judicial Conduct.

• Rodriguez is an attorney in private practice focusing on Family Court work.

• Siegel is an attorney in private practice focusing on Family Court matters. She previously served for 20 years as an attorney for the county Department of Social Services.

• Trachtenberg runs his own law firm and also represents indigent families in Family Court as a deputy conflict defender. He previously ran for an open Family Court judgeship in 2010, losing in the primary to then-City Court Judge Christine Clark.

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