News of Otsego County

GOP committee meeting

6 Lawyers Line Up For Judge Vacancy


6 Lawyers Line Up

For Judge Vacancy

GOP Committee Meets Sunday

To Pick Brian Burns’ Successor

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

County Judge Brian D. Burns was chosen Tuesday by a Sixth Judicial District convention to fill a state Supreme Court vacancy. ( file photo)

COOPERSTOWN – Things are moving quickly:

  • Tuesday, Aug. 11, a Sixth District judicial convention in Binghamton named Otsego County Judge Brian D. Burns of Oneonta to succeed retired Michael V. Coccoma of Cooperstown as state Supreme Court judge. Burns plans to remove his name from the county judge line on the Nov. 3 ballot.
  • In anticipation, six local lawyers had already come forward over the weekend to announce their interest in filling Burns’ seat. “At this point, I don’t expect anyone else to jump in,” said County GOP Chairman Vince Casale.
  • And the 75-member county Republican Committee is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16, in The Otesaga ballroom to interview the candidates and select a new county judge, who will run unopposed on the Nov. 3 ballot.

The six candidates are attorneys Richard Brown, Jill Ghaleb, Mike Getman, Will Green, Susan Lettis and Michael E. Trosset.

The succession of judges, because they are elected every 10 years, usually allows candidates more time to line up.  “This is unique,” said Casale.

When the county committee meets Sunday, it first will address routine business – for instance, supporting GOP Elections Committee Lori Lehenbauer of Worcester for another term.  (Virtual connections will be available to members uneasy about attending in person.)

The six candidates will gather in the hotel’s Oak Room, and the committee will call them in one by one to be interviewed. Whomever the committee choses at afternoon’s end will become judge, Casale said.

In 2008, when Coccoma, then county judge, ran for Supreme Court, there was plenty of time for the county committees to line up the contest between Republican John Lambert and then-Democrat Jill Ghaleb, who had been appointed to the Coccoma vacancy by then-Gov. David Paterson.

This time, when Coccoma announced his retirement in June, Burns was in place to run for reelection to what would have been his third term on the county bench.

Because of Burns’ popularity, the Democrats hadn’t fielded a challenger.  It’s too late now, so that turns this fall’s judicial election into a Republican coronation.

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