SARATOGA SPRINGS- Judicial political campaigns are interesting entities. As compared to a regular campaign for contested offices such as Mayor, there is a traditional, codified structure – an extra layer of self-governance about campaign conduct that controls these things. Usually, that translates to a series of background flyers (or re-packaged resumes where, not surprisingly, 100 percent of the candidates espouse some form of adherence to ‘family values’ – to the extent that it makes such an expression nearly worthless) and watered down ‘position papers’ which rarely, if ever, take an actual position on the issues of the day.
Instead they tend to focus on the candidate’s interpretation of a vague concept called ‘judicial conduct’ – how they intend to run their courtroom once the Bailiff intones “All rise!” and once the Jurist grips the gavel. All this, when combined with the robes and the traditional trappings of a courtroom (where – do not fool yourself – life-changing decisions are made every day) tends to shroud judicial candidates in a blanket called ‘mystique’ – there’s a reason why our Judges sit higher than anyone else – but as such, we rarely if ever get to know the person under the robe.
That’s what made the event last night, Wednesday, May 31, at Bailey’s Cafe` different.
To be sure, let’s make it very clear that while this event was definitely a fundraiser and rally for sitting Saratoga Springs City Court Judge Francine Vero, no lines were crossed: there was no opponent bashing for instance, or anything close to what might occur in a traditional event. Yet the vibe was remarkably similar to what you might feel at a rally for one of Judge Vero’s fellow candidates on the Democratic and Independence Party lines. But that wasn’t the biggest difference.
The difference came when Judge Vero greeted the packed room.
In detailing her background, she acknowledged both her mother Nancy and the Mayor for appointing her – also taking ‘Judicial notice’ of all current and former City officeholders and candidates. This can be perilous, as I’ve seen experienced politicians inadvertently omit this person or that. I looked around the room – she didn’t miss one.
Further, Judge Vero’s remarks about what her office’s role is, and what areas her Court covers were revealing in what she chose to emphasize. Her Court hears cases on traffic, DWI, civil and criminal matters of course, but Judge Vero placed great emphasis in noting that she hears ALL the cases relating to domestic violence in the City. Bottom line: If you didn’t know Judge Francine Vero before this event, you knew her after she spoke.
Regardless, people certainly liked what they heard.
What they liked most of all, what brought the most robust round of applause in the evening, was not a policy statement, nor buzz phrase – but the recitation of a simple fact:
“I am the first woman City Court Judge in the history of Saratoga Springs.” Judge Vero said.
Putting this in context, it would seem that while I saw many of the people I would expect to see at something like this, I saw many more that would be more likely spotted at a charity gala, or perhaps Bailey’s on Wednesday’s pasta night. From a sociological perspective, it says here that Judge Francine Vero has tapped into something: striking a new balance between “Judicial Decorum” and “get to know the candidate.”
JOURNALISTIC decorum will prevent me from going further than that, except to say that this candidacy means business.
gavel pen on the table…}}
June 1, 2017