At at heavily attended meeting Wednesday night in Lake George of the Warren County Democratic Committee, the committee heard presentations from the candidates running for a seat on the bench for the Fourth Judicial District of the New York State Supreme Court. Candidates Christine Clark, John Silvestri, Mark Powers, Mark Blanchfield, Jeffrey Wait and Glenn McNeil all spoke to the committee for ten minutes and answered questions. This was the second time before the committee by Silvestri, who was endorsed by the committee for the seat last year and ran a strong campaign.
After debate and discussion, the committee endorsed John Silvestri, Christine Clark, Mark Powers and Jeffrey Wait.
The 4th JD runs from Schenectady County in the South to the Canadian border, and from Vermont in the East to Lake Erie in the West. It is bigger than the state of Connecticut and is home to approximately one million people. Four seats are open for election in November and only four candidates can be nominated. Judges serve fourteen year terms. Election in November is by a round-robin ballot: out of all the challengers, Democratic and Republican combined, the top four finishers are elected and become State Supreme Court Justices.
The State Supreme Court is one step below the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals. Since many cases never are taken up on appeal by the Court of Appeals, State Supreme Court can have enormous influence, especially in enforcing individual and community rights. As only one example, a State Supreme Court Justice in the Southern Tier recently handed down a major ruling that local communities have the power to restrict the activity of hydro-fracking gas drillers with local zoning ordinances. This was considered a major victory for community rights and opponents of hydro-fracking, and a major defeat for the gas industry.