Judicial candidate rated ‘not qualified’
An independent judicial commission rated Ulster County Surrogate’s Court judge candidate Sara McGinty as “not qualified,” while her opponent in the upcoming election, Peter Matera, was rated as “qualified.”
The Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commissions for the Third Judicial Department announced the ratings in a press release dated Oct. 5. The ratings were based on an investigation of each candidate’s backgrounds and qualifications, as well as an interview with the commission, the release said.
On Tuesday, commissions Director Timothy O’Keefe said the group could not offer any comment other than the rating it released.
Judicial candidates are rated by the commission as highly qualified, qualified or not qualified.
“I can’t speculate on their reasons in a public forum,” McGinty said Tuesday. “And so, much as I would like to put it in context for people, I can’t do it in public. So, all I can say is, it was disappointing.”
In lieu of an explanation, she said voters should go to her campaign website and make their own decision on her qualifications.
For his part, Matera said he was “very pleased to receive the qualified rating from the commission.”
McGinty, a Democrat, is facing off against Matera, a Republican, in the November election to replace current Surrogate’s Court Judge Mary Work.
Surrogate’s Court handles matters involving estates, wills, trusts, guardianships and adoptions. Its judges serve 10-year terms.
On the ballot, McGinty holds the Democratic Party line, which she won in a primary against Kingston attorney Sharon Graff. Matera holds the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Reform party lines.
McGinty, 58, served as Rosendale town justice for eight years and, in 2015, filled a six-month vacancy. She also has served as a hearing officer for the Kingston Housing Authority since 2010.
Additionally, McGinty maintains a law office in Rosendale, focusing largely on elder law, wills, trusts and estate administration. She frequently lectures on issues of concern to senior citizens and their families and on Surrogate’s Court litigation and estate planning.
McGinty said she has spent two decades working in Surrogate’s Court, representing families and guiding them through the court process.
“I have devoted a substantial part of my career over the past 20 years to that type of work,” McGinty said.
McGinty added that the Ulster County Bar Association is conducting its own evaluation of the candidates.
Matera, 55, is a town of Esopus resident who has been a part-time Ulster County assistant district attorney for 29 years. He has also spent 30 years in private practice, concentrating on wills and estates, real property, commercial and other litigation. Matera previously served as an Ulster County assistant public defender.
“I’ve practiced in Surrogate’s Court my entire career,” Matera said. He said he has also had several appointments as a guardian ad litem, representing people in Surrogate’s Court who cannot speak for themselves. Matera said he is very pleased judges have sought to use him in that capacity. He also said he believes the endorsements he has received, including from former judges and police benevolent associations, tells a lot about him.
Matera has also said he has practiced in virtually every court in Ulster County, has argued cases at the state appellate level, and is licensed to practice in federal court in New York state’s eastern and southern districts.