Held Serve

The New York Sun
November 6, 2003 Thursday

DEMOCRATS JOYOUS OVER 'HELD SERVE' IN BROOKLYN

BYLINE: By COLIN MINER
Despite an ongoing scandal investigation, leaders of the Brooklyn Democratic Party were positively giddy yesterday about their sweep in the judicial elections.
"The bottom line is that we held serve," said Bob Liff, a party spokesman. "The people of Brooklyn went to the polls and said they are satisfied with the way things are."
But he said the party would continue overhauling the way judges are selected.
"The commitment to reform remains as strong as ever," Mr. Liff said. "We have already started reforming the way judges are selected and that is a process that will continue."
The Democrats had eight candidates running for seats and all were elected, defeating Republicans and candidates of the Working Families Party by no less than a 3-1 margin in most cases.
The most notable of the losing candidates, Judge Margarita Lopez Torres, said she was disappointed.
"It's never good when you lose," she said. "But this was an important first step for a lot of people."
Judge Lopez Torres, who was trying to move up to state Supreme Court from civil court, last year had become a poster child for reform of the judicial selection process when Democrats refused to back her because she wouldn't hire an elected official's relative as her law secretary.
"The good thing is that many more people are aware of the process than they used to be," she said. "Many times during the campaign people came up to me to say how they were aware of the race for the first time and how for the first time they actually knew who was running."
The selection process was thrust into the spotlight in April with the arrest of Judge Gerald Garson, who told prosecutors he could offer proof that judgeships were for sale. Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes convened a grand jury that is still investigating the allegations.
Critics of the process had held up the elections as a referendum on the leader of the Brooklyn Democrats, Clarence Norman.
The executive director of the Working Families Party, Dan Cantor, took another view of the results.
"More than 32,000 people went to the polls and said they are not happy with the way things are going," Mr. Cantor said. "They loudly spoke up and said they want change."
Mr. Cantor said the turnout will get higher with each election.
"People in Brooklyn have been raised to vote the Democratic line," he said. "You can't change voting habits overnight."
Elected to seats on the state Supreme Court on Tuesday were Bruce Balter, Bernadette Bayne, Raymond Guzman, Arthur Schack, and Martin Solomon, all judges on the civil court. Three incumbent Supreme Court judges, Theodore Jones, Herbert Kramer, and Michael Pesce, were re-elected.

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