Ju­di­cial can­di­date rated ‘not qualified’

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ariél Zangla azangla@free­manon­line.com ArielAtFree­man on Twitter

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.

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