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Dan Hust | Democrat

Martin Miller, left, and Mike McGuire are two of the three residents who plan to succeed County Court Judge Burt Ledina when he steps down later this year.

Throwing their hats in for County Court Judge race

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — March 26, 2010 — Back-to-back announcements Wednesday signalled the start of a race between two of Sullivan County’s best-known attorneys: Michael McGuire and Martin Miller.
McGuire, a Republican, and Miller, a Democrat, are seeking to replace County Court Judge Burton Ledina, a Republican who must retire at 70 per state law, regardless of the position’s actual 10-year term.
A third well-known lawyer, Cindy Barber, is expected to launch a bid for the Democratic nomination in April, and she confirmed yesterday that she does indeed plan to run.
Barber unsuccessfully ran for Ledina’s seat nearly three years ago, garnering more than 7,000 votes against Ledina’s nearly 10,000.
“I made a really good showing against a massively popular incumbent,” she recalled yesterday. “And I am back in it.”
The former Family Court attorney and 12-year Bethel Town Justice plans to make an official announcement on April 18 in Liberty, which means a Democratic primary may be in her and Miller’s future.
McGuire also recently ran unsuccessfully, trying to gain the Republican nomination for District Attorney, which he lost to current DA Jim Farrell.
But he and his supporters seemed unfazed by that past disappointment when they gathered Wednesday inside a packed Mr. Willy’s in Monticello.
“He has the background to be an excellent county court judge,” promised County Republican Committee Chairman Dick Coombe to a cheering crowd. “... The Mike McGuire I know has always been there 24/7.”
McGuire vowed he’d continue his fast-rising legacy of public service.
“I’ve spent the last 30 years of my life preparing to be Sullivan County Court Judge,” he remarked. “Since graduating from Manhattan College [in 1981], the collective experiences I’ve had in my personal and professional life have prepared me well to follow the fine tradition of jurisprudence this county has enjoyed.”
McGuire, 50, first gained prominence in the area as athletic director at Sullivan County Community College, where the men’s basketball team nailed three national championships.
Whilst running the now-defunct Catskill Cougars baseball team, he began studying law at Pace University, graduating magna cum laude in 2001.
Since then, he’s served as an assistant district attorney and now maintains a private practice in Ferndale. He’s also the vice president of the Liberty Central School Board, counsel to the State Police PBA, a judicial instructor, a member of the Liberty Elks and, not surprisingly, still a youth baseball coach.
He also is a husband and father of three.
“My only agenda,” McGuire concluded, “will be the health and safety of our community, our senior citizens and our children.”
A few minutes later inside the Government Center in Monticello, Marty Miller promised the same to a large crowd of enthusiastic supporters.
“His knowledge is expansive,” affirmed Legislator Ron Hiatt, a fellow attorney who introduced Miller to the audience. “... And he’s a conciliator. ... He has the tact to be able to resolve issues.”
An attorney since 1974, the Sullivan County native has served as president of the Sullivan County Bar Association, an arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association, an adjunct professor at Sullivan County Community College, secretary/treasurer of the SC Magistrates’ Association, and counsel for the towns of Thompson, Lumberland and Bethel, plus the Village of Monticello.
Some of his work has been pro bono, noted Hiatt, as is currently the case with local Habitat for Humanity projects.
And from the Boy Scouts to Monticello Rotary, Miller has contributed his time and efforts to a variety of community organizations, even helping found the Monticello Lions Club.
But he’s perhaps best-known as Thompson’s 14-year town justice.
“Marty’s not just running for judge,” noted Hiatt. “He IS a good judge… I’ve never heard any attorney complain about Marty as he metes out justice. He has the discretion, understanding and the kind of wisdom we want to have in a judge for Sullivan County.”
In fact, Miller replaced Ledina as Thompson Town Justice, taking over what he said has become one of the busiest town courts in the state.
The average judge in New York sees four jury trials in 20 years, Miller explained.
He and fellow Town Justice Perry Meltzer handle about 8-10 every year, he said.
Despite a false fire alarm dramatically and prematurely ending his speech Wednesday, the husband and father of two assured the audience he would bring all his years of experience with him to a county judgeship.
“Over the years, my practice has focused on the needs of the community ... and all areas of the law,” he explained.

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