Ithaca, N.Y. — Three candidates are squaring off on Tuesday in the Democratic primary for Ithaca City Court judge.
They are running to replace former Judge Judith Rossiter, who has vacated the position. Mayor Svante Myrick has appointed Seth Peacock as the interim judge, but two others are challenging Peacock.
Below find the information to get you caught up for tomorrow’s election.
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1 — Who is running?
The three candidates — Seth Peacock, Kristine Shaw and Rick Wallace — are all local attorneys with years of experience in the courtroom.
The Voice has published extensive profiles on the personal histories of each of the three candidates:
Seth Peacock overcame poverty and studied on the side of the road as a trucker to make it to Cornell Law School.
Kristine Shaw, then in retail, decided to change her life when bringing her newborn son home from the hospital 21 years ago.
Rick Wallace is a lifelong Ithacan whose father’s death brought him home.
2 — Where and when can I vote?
You can vote at the following polling places, according to the Tompkins County Board of Elections website:
District 1 & 2- Lehman Alternative Community School, 111 Chestnut St.
District 3 – Titus Towers II, 798 S. Plain Street
District 4 – South Hill School, 520 Hudson Street
District 1 & 3- GIAC, 301 W. Court St.
District 2 – Titus Towers II, 798 S. Plain Street
District 4 – TC Public Library, 101 E. Green St.
District 1, 2 & 3- Belle Sherman Annex, Cornell Street
District 1 – St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 109 Oak Avenue
District 1 & ,2 – Fall Creek School, King & Aurora St
District 3 – Alice Cook House, Stewart and University Ave
Polling stations will be open from noon to 9 p.m.
3 — What are the biggest policy differences between the candidates?
There was little daylight between the candidates over policy questions at a judicial forum covered by The Voice in August.
One of the few that emerged was over Peacock’s proposal to establish evening court as a way to give access to people who can’t afford to take a day from work to appear in court, or can’t find the child care to do so.
Shaw and Wallace expressed practical objections to the idea, citing fiscal reasons and budget constraints.
All three candidates have spoken extensively in multiple media interviews about the importance of finding alternatives to incarceration for non-violent and misdemeanor offenders.
4 — I heard one of the candidates was involved in some sort of controversy. What was that all about?
On Friday, The Voice’s Emma Court published a story showing that Peacock had been barred from several judges’ courtrooms.
Peacock was reprimanded because he missed court appearances, arrived late and/or arrived unprepared, documents obtained by the Ithaca Voice revealed.
“This has been a repeated problem which is totally unacceptable,” said a December 2011 letter to Peacock from Wesley McDermott, a supervising lawyer in the county’s assigned counsel program.
Peacock had been asked at a public forum if the county’s assigned counsel office — which assigns lawyers to defendants who cannot afford their own — had banned him from any courts during his time as an attorney there. He said no.
5 — What do Peacock and his supporters say?
Former Judge Judith Rossiter wrote a message to Mayor Svante Myrick that was widely circulated. In it, Rossiter issued a defense of Peacock’s record and called the criticisms of Peacock unwarranted and unprovoked.
Additionally, in a Facebook post on Monday, Peacock supporter Eldred Harris said that Peacock was “simply in high demand.”
“Combine his caseload with these schedules and the ground to be covered, and the challenge becomes clear. These are not ‘rookie’ mistake as some have tried to spin them, they are the realities of having a family, being a dedicated public servant and being in demand in one’s profession,” Harris wrote.
3 of the other points made by supporters of Peacock:
1 — Supporters have wondered if there was a racial bias behind the sanctions of Peacock.
2 — They’ve questioned the timing of the revelation about Peacock.
3 — Peacock was not actually asked if he had been barred from courtrooms by judges. So, it was not wrong of him to say at the forum without clarification that he had not been barred from any assigned counsel programs, several of his supporters have said in emails and public posts.
6 — How long will the winner of the general election in November serve for?
A 10-year term. Scott Miller is the other Ithaca City Court judge.
7 — How much will we be paying the victor?
Former City Court Judge Judith Rossiter made about $150,000 in 2013, according to state records. It’s a state salary.
8 — How much have the candidates raised and how much have they spent?
There are two time periods shown on the NY State Board of Elections website for judicial candidates … There is more information available for Wallace and Shaw related to campaign finance disclosures than there is for Peacock:
For 11 day pre-primary period — No receipts, $1,530 in expenditures.
For 32 day pre-primary period — Filed “in lieu of statement;” public records not available.
For 11 day pre-primary period — $3,547 in receipts (donations), $1,044.3 in expenditures.
For 32 day pre-primary period — $2,600 in receipts; $597 in expenditures.
For 11 day pre-primary period — $215 in receipts, $977 in expenditures.
For 32 day pre-primary period — $3,777 in receipts; $1,465 in expenditures.
Shaw and Wallace have also filed financial disclosures for July not filed by Peacock’s campaign.