October 23, 2012

Eight candidates bid for State Supreme Court


---- —  PLATTSBURGH — Eight candidates seek four seats on the Fourth Judicial District bench of the State Supreme Court.

Laws prohibit judicial candidates from speaking about specific issues in case they have to rule on them while serving.

But the League of Women Voters of the Plattsburgh Area is offering an opportunity for people to learn more about the candidates at a State Supreme Court Meet the Candidate event at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29, at American Legion Post 20 on Quarry Road in Plattsburgh. 

All eight candidates have agreed to be present, according to a news release from the league.

Each will have five minutes to briefly describe his or her background and experience, reasons for running and what he or she hopes to accomplish in the 14-year tenure.

After the formal introductions and presentations, audience members will have the opportunity to interact with candidates. Coffee and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Here are brief capsules on the candidates, compiled by the Press-Republican:


Thomas Buchanan, 42, lives in Rotterdam and is a litigation attorney in Latham.

He was formerly the chairman of the Republican Party in Schenectady County but stepped down last December to run for the Supreme Court seat. He is running as a Republican.


Felix Catena, 55, is a judge from Amsterdam and on the Republican ticket.

He has served as a trial judge for 17 years and is an acting Supreme Court justice. Catena was elected to a 10-year term as Montgomery County Court judge in November 1999, after having served as Amsterdam City Court judge for four years. He served on the Curriculum Committee for the New York State Unified Court System and was a member of the state Jury Trial Project.


Christine Clark, 45, is a Family Court judge in Schenectady running for Supreme Court as a Democrat.

She is a graduate from Albany Law School at Union University and has served at many levels of the Schenectady legal system.


John Ellis, 47, is a Family Court Support magistrate in Saratoga Springs and is running as a Republican.

The Tupper Lake man has served an assistant district attorney in Franklin County. He is a Desert Storm veteran and attended law school in Albany.


Mark Powers, 57, is a Family Court judge from Schenectady running as a Democrat. He has served as a Family Court judge in Schenectady County for 11 years and, since 2004, has served as a full-time acting Supreme Court justice.


Joseph Sise, 49, a Supreme Court justice in Montgomery County, seeks the post on the Republican ticket.

He went to law school at Albany Union University School of Law and graduated in 1988.


John Sylvestri, 59, a Democratic candidate, is a general attorney in Chestertown. He is a former tractor-trailer driver and iron worker who graduated from Pace University’s School of Law in 1981. He has more than 31 years of experience as a trial lawyer and worked in the North Country and on Long Island.


Jeffrey Wait, 52, is a City Court judge in Saratoga Springs who is also running as a Democrat. He has served as an assistant district attorney in Suffolk County, as special deputy counsel to the New York State Board of Elections and as a city attorney in Saratoga Springs.