Race for Sur­ro­gate’s Court bench too close to call

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Pa­tri­cia Doxsey pdoxsey@free­manon­line.com pat­ti­at­free­man on Twit­ter

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.

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