Race for Surrogate’s Court bench too close to call
A victor won’t be announced until at least next Wednesday in the tooclose-to-call race for Ulster County Surrogate’s Court judge.
Democrat Sara McGinty maintained a slight lead over Republican Peter Matera, according to unofficial results from Tuesday’s vote.
McGinty had 32,757 votes, while Matera had 32,621. Sharon Graff, who ran on the Working Families, Women’s Equality and Green Party lines, trailed with 7,614.
“But there are still thousands of outstanding ballots to be counted,” said county Republican Elections Commissioner Tom Turco, meaning the final outcome is “without a doubt” still up in the air.
Turco said that the Board of Elections received 7,352 applications for absentee ballots.
To date, he said, 5,158 have been returned. Absentee ballots can be received by mail through Nov. 15, provided they were postmarked by Nov. 7.
Additionally, Turco said, there were numerous affidavit ballots cast Tuesday, though he didn’t know how many.
Turco said the Board of Elections will count the absentee and affidavit ballots beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
The winner of the race will succeed Judge Mary Work, who is retiring.
Despite her longtime legal experience, including time as a judge, McGinty was rated as “not qualified” by the Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commissions for the state’s Third Judicial Department. Matera was rated “qualified,” while Graff was not rated.
Judicial candidates are rated as “highly qualified,” “qualified” or “not qualified.”
The Ulster County Bar Association’s Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee rated Matera as “highly qualified” and McGinty and Graff as “qualified.”
In June 2008, McGinty was found guilty of professional misconduct concerning bookkeeping practices, but her penalty of a one-year suspension was stayed. The decision of the state Committee on Professional Standards did not suggest McGinty did anything untoward or criminal but had participated in “bad bookkeeping” practices.
Matera has been a parttime Ulster County assistant district attorney for 29 years. He has also spent 30 years in private practice and previously served as an Ulster County assistant public defender.
The Surrogate’s Court judge serves a 10-year term. Surrogate’s Court handles matters involving estates, wills, trusts, guardianships and adoptions.