Ex-judge questions race
GENEVA — Former City Court supervising judge Walter C. Gage, in a letter to the editor in today’s Times, criticizes city Democrats for forcing an election for a city judge seat this fall.
Gage, who retired at the end of 2007, said Assistant City Judge Elisabeth A. “Lisa” Toole has been an outstanding judge for 11 years and deserves to be unopposed.
Toole, a Republican like Gage, is being challenged by Democrat Bram S. Lehman. Lehman was appointed to serve as the city’s third judge by Mayor Stu Einstein, a Democrat, in February.
Toole was appointed by former Mayor Joanne Wisor to a six-year term in the third judge position in 1997; she was reappointed by Mayor Donald Cass to a new six-year term in 2004.
Gage said city residents should be asking themselves why there is a contested election for city court this year.
“Judge Toole has been an outstanding judge in the community for 11 years. She is highly respected by law enforcement, the district attorney’s office, court staff, those watching the court, defense attorneys and the public,” Gage wrote.
“In spite of this, an opponent has been nominated to try and unseat Judge Toole,” Gage wrote.
He called Lehman an opponent who had never been in city court before his appointment by Einstein and who had to delay taking the bench for a month while he was mentored by Toole.
Gage called the election a “brazen, calculated political attempt to dump someone of Judge Toole’s character and integrity.”
Toole said she is pleased with Gage’s support, noting that he was her supervising judge for 10 years.
She didn’t want to address Gage’s objections to her facing an opponent, but said Lehman initially indicated he would not run against her.
“I was surprised when I found out he was running for the position,” she said.
Lehman said he initially didn’t want to run against Toole but changed his mind after serving as judge the past several months.
Einstein said the Democratic Committee was not involved in his decision to appoint Lehman and would not be involved in future appointments.
He said the party committee had the choices of supporting a candidate or not participating in the race.
“They made the obvious decision, which I don’t think anyone can fault,” Einstein said, adding that he has not gotten any public comments about the city judge election or his appointment.By DAVID L. SHAW / Finger Lakes Times
Friday, October 17, 2008 10:02 AM CDT