BINGHAMTON, NY – Now we turn to the race for Broome County Family Court Judge.
It’s a race to replace retiring judge Spiro Pines.
And while the candidates come from different legal backgrounds, they both know first-hand the importance of Family Court.
Steve Cornwell has been an attorney in private practice, handling family court cases, criminal defense and civil matters.
And he’s been a prosecutor.
But he’s probably best known as the former Broome County District Attorney, a position he held from 2016 through last year.
“You need to send somebody there that you know, and somebody that you trust. I think, with my record being public for 4 years of how I served the people of Broome County, I hope that they will see that I am the right person for the job,” says Cornwell.
Hollie Levine has worked as a public defender, a consumer affairs prosecutor with the New York State Attorney General’s Office and she spent 3 years as a court attorney in family court.
For the past 20 years, she’s worked for the Mental Hygiene Legal Service, representing children and adults with mental illness and developmental disabilities in court hearings regarding their treatment and confinement.
“It can be challenging at times because of course you are dealing with people who are in crisis. And as a family court judge, I would also be dealing with people who are in crisis so I would be bringing those skills that I have honed over the last 20 years of working with people who are in crisis, I would be bringing those to family court,” says Levine.
Both say that Family Court is the most important court because it’s responsible for protecting children. Cornwell says the pandemic has worsened an already heavy backlog of cases that has created a months-long wait.
“We need to address the backlog of cases, which I did as District Attorney. We had a huge backlog of cases that we were able to eliminate, effectively and efficiently move through those cases and prevent future cases, by making good decisions today, you prevent cases from coming back tomorrow,” says Cornwell.
Both say they have the temperament necessary for the position, being even-handed and maintaining an open mind.
Levine says she will be fair and objective.
“I am proud to have the endorsement of two retired Republican judges and a former Democratic judge who realize that not only do I have the experience that matters, but I have the character that counts. That’s somebody who is a highly ethical attorney, someone who knows how to conduct themselves in the courtroom, who will treat everyone who appears in front of her with respect,” says Levine.
Both experienced the issues first hand.
Their parents divorced and they are both on their second marriages, living with blended families. Cornwell says he instituted a number of new programs in the D-A’s Office to lessen the burden on children, including establishing a special victims unit, creating non-threatening interview rooms, funding school resource officers and bringing comfort dogs into the office.
“We did everything that we could to minimize the effect that the court system has on children. And that’s where I focused a lot of our energy at the District Attorney’s Office, was to protect the most vulnerable members of our community,” says Cornwell.
Both are lifelong residents of Broome County and both have been active in the community.
Levine, a Maine-Endwell alumna, later served on the M-E school board.
“We are electing somebody who’s going to work hard every day in the courtroom. I’m a hard-working, ethical attorney and I believe I can bring those skills to benefit the people of Broome County to help make people’s lives better,” says Levine.
Early voting is already underway in Broome County.
The four locations are the Oakdale Mall, the libraries in Binghamton and Endicott and the Taste New York store on Upper Front Street.
The polls are open until 8 this evening and then from 10 to 6 tomorrow through Friday.
Saturday is 9 to 5 and then early voting concludes on Sunday from noon until 5.
Election Day is Tuesday.
For more information, go to BroomeVotes.com.
See full interviews with the candidates below: