Editor, The Spotlight:
I am a candidate for Bethlehem town judge, having been nominated by both the Conservative and Independence parties.
The Town Court handles matters in three separate areas – traffic, criminal, and civil claims. The person elected town judge should have broad-based experience in each of these practice areas.
Traffic matters are the least complicated. Nearly all lawyers have experience in traffic matters, and I have represented clients in this capacity for more than 30 years.
More complex, and far more important to public safety, is the court’s jurisdiction over criminal matters. In criminal cases originating in the town, the court handles preliminary issues and retains jurisdiction through final disposition of misdemeanors and violations. Experience in criminal matters is vital to a town judge’s ability to properly carry out his or her responsibilities. I have over 30 years of experience handling criminal cases in Town Court, County Court, and the United States District Court. I have also handled appeals addressing matters of criminal and constitutional law in New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. Experience in these matters, I submit, is essential for a town judge.
The third area of responsibility is the civil jurisdiction of the court, including small claims and matters involving disputes between neighbors and small businesses. These are the same types of matters for which I have worked as an appointed arbitrator in Albany City Court for the last 20 years. I have heard parties present their claims in more than 100 cases, and my decisions have repeatedly been adopted as the final judgment of the Court. Experience in this capacity will provide the litigants and the Town Court with a decision maker who is not new to the process. In addition, my 34 years of experience as a lawyer has resulted in my receiving the designation of Super Lawyer, Civil Litigation from my peers in the Albany community. This designation validates my qualifications for this office.
The three candidates for town judge are all lawyers, and determining the qualifications of each requires an evaluation of the above three areas, as well as an evaluation of the intangible – the candidate’s temperament and dedication to the community. In that regard, in the 29 years I have lived in Delmar, I have been involved in organizations from Tri-Village Little League to the Bethlehem Democratic Committee. I have been the President of both the Bethlehem Central Athletic Association and the Capital Region Cornell Club. My commitment to the community is longstanding. I have been committed to the progress of this community and remain so.
Please vote for me on the Conservative or Independence line on Nov. 5.
Matthew J. (Jim) Kelly
Candidate, Bethlehem justice