UPDATE, 4:30 P.M. — Dan Johnson is no longer in the race, said Stacey Dimas, co-vice chair of the Tompkins County Democratic Committee. She said Johnson conceded the race after Seth Peacock won the Democratic nomination. However, he missed the deadline to withdraw from the Working Families line, so he is still listed on the ballot.

The Tompkins County Board of Elections said that the votes cast for Johnson will still count.

ITHACA, N.Y. — City of Ithaca residents will be able to cast their vote for either Democratic candidate Seth Peacock or Working Families candidate Dan Johnson in the race for Ithaca City Court Judge.

Over the summer, the city court judge position seemed to be a lock-in for Seth Peacock, who won the Democratic nomination in July. Peacock has served as one of two city court judges since December 2019 when he was appointed by Mayor Svante Myrick to fill a vacancy left by now-Tompkins County judge Scott Miller. Peacock also served previously as a city court judge when Myrick appointed him on an interim basis in 2014. Peacock is the first Black judge to serve in Ithaca and in the Sixth Judicial District.

“As City Court Judge, my first and most important priority is to treat all of those appearing in court with respect, patience, compassion and while at the same time holding them accountable,” Peacock said when he secured the nomination in July. “The legitimacy of our court system depends on our fellow citizens’ belief that the courtroom is a place where they will be held responsible for their actions and behaviors but also treated fairly.”

In the primary election, Peacock won in each of the city’s ward’s, with a total vote of 2,965 to 626, and secured the nomination over Johnson, Tompkins County assistant district attorney. On the Nov. 3 ballot, Johnson will be running on the Working Families line. He is the only candidate across all of the races this year running solely on Working Families, a minor political party that is known for its progressive policies. 

In the race for New York’s 23rd Congressional District, Tracy Mitrano, the Democratic candidate seeking to unseat incumbent Republican Rep. Tom Reed, is also running on the Working Families line. Similarly, Leslie Danks Burke, who is running against incumbent Republican state Senator Tom O’Mara for the 58th District, is running on the Democratic and Working Families lines, as well as Anna Kelles — who is running against Republican and Libertarian Nominee Matthew McIntyre, chair of the Cortland County Libertarian Party — for New York Assembly District 125.

Johnson has been with the County Attorney’s Office since 2006 and has worked in juvenile drug court, adult felony drug courts and Ithaca City Treatment Court. Additionally, he has worked as a defense attorney and prosecutor for 20 years in New York and Colorado after attending the University of Colorado Law School and becoming a member of the bar back in 2005. Johnson has lived in Ithaca with his family since 2004.

“My years in court, in regular court, in drug court, have shown me how people are affected by what happens in court, by the way that the judge talks to them, by the way the judge affords them an opportunity to speak, by the way he addresses their attorney, and because of all that experience and because I do know the law extremely well, that’s how I would serve the community,” he said in a candidate forum June 1.

Ithaca City Court handles small claims, landlord and tenant cases, criminal cases, traffic violations, city code violations and building code violations, mostly misdemeanor cases. The city court judge position is a 10-year term, which will begin January 1, 2021. The other city judge is Judge Rick Wallace, whose term is over in 2025.

Madison Fernandez

Madison Fernandez is a contributing reporter at the Ithaca Voice. You can reach her by email at mfernandez@ithacavoice.com.