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State Supreme Court candidates visit Utica

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. (WKTV) - Four of the nine candidates running for State Supreme Court spoke at the Utica Rotary Club's Meet the Candidates Forum Friday.

All campaigning to fill the four open Supreme Court seats in Oneida, Herkimer, Lewis, and Jefferson Counties.

However with three candidates running from Onondago County, where there's not an open seat, some candidates are stressing the importance of keeping the judges seats in the Mohawk Valley.

"The judges when their elected usually sit in the home counties where they reside," says Republican Candidate for Oneida County Erin Gall. "That has happened in the past where we've lost a judgeship to another county and it does affect our court system here."

Erin Gall joins Democrat Patrick MacRae, both from Oneida County. But, MacRae saying that while its important we preserve seats in our community it should be secondary to judges' qualifications.

"I don't believe that it should be the driving force in any choice of a candidate," says Patrick MacRae. "If you have a candidate who has weaker qualifications or is not as skilled in their background that's not going to benefit justice."

As the only candidate running from Herkimer, Republican Prescott Klosner, is stressing the importance of keeping a resident Supreme Court Judge saying, "It allows residents to have access to a resident Supreme Court Judge in Herkimer so they don't have to travel and incur additional expenses to seek justice."

Onondaga County Legislator Thomas Buckel joins David Magnarelli on the Democratic line and John Stone, a Republican running from the conservative line, all three trying to claim the seats even though they're from Onondaga.

"I have worked here, I have partners from here, I've represented this area I know it as well as anyone," says Buckel. " Who will deliver justice without any strings attached, that's the most important criteria."

In Lewis County, Demotic County Court Judge Charles Merrell and Republican and former District Attorney Michael Young are trying to hold the county's sole seat.

Watertown town judge James McClusky from the Republican line is the only candidate from Jefferson County running for its open judgeship.

The judgeships will go to the four candidates who receive the most votes, regardless of what county they're from. Their term will be for fourteen years.

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