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Voters in Jay choose to cut judge position

October 25, 2013

JAY - Voters in the town of Jay decided Wednesday, Oct. 16 to support the town board's decision and eliminate one of its two judges.

The special referendum drew 245 voters in favor of eliminating one of the justice positions and 148 who voted against it.

Town Supervisor Randy Douglas told the News in an email that he and the rest of the town board are pleased with the results.

"We did a thorough research of the need and we feel we the Town Board and the voters made a wise fiscal decision," Douglas wrote. "In our opinion one judge can handle the case load."

He said Jay has fewer cases than many towns in Essex County because Interstate 87 runs through them but not Jay. Of the six Essex County towns I-87 runs through, two, Schroon and North Hudson, have one judge each. The other four have two.

The town board voted in July to eliminate the position, but several residents, including town council candidate Fred Balzac, didn't like the idea when they heard about it. They got enough signatures to force a special referendum on the issue.

Balzac told the News that he accepts the results of the vote.

"Obviously, we were unable to convince the majority of voters that eliminating the second town justice position is a bad idea," Balzac said.

He said he's glad it was decided by the people of the town rather than just five elected officials.

"Basically, I think it's a victory for democracy," Balzac said.

He said the turnout was incredible for a single-issue vote on a Wednesday afternoon and evening in the middle of October.

"When almost 400 people vote on a single issue like this, that says a lot about the amount of interest there was," he said.

More than a third of the voters said they were against the town board's decision, Balzac said, which he called a substantial group.

"The town board was forced to explain its position, and I think that's a good thing," Balzac said.

He said he thinks the board isn't transparent enough on certain key issues. The board has argued that the decisions were made in public meetings where there is ample opportunity for public comment.

Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or jcollier@



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