By LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — JAY — Voters in the Town of Jay decided Wednesday that they don’t need two justices.
The tally of special referendum vote on eliminating one of the posts was 245-148.
“We had more of a turnout for this than we do for a presidential primary,” Town Supervisor Randy Douglas said after the count. “It’s amazing.”
Five election inspectors in AuSable Forks and four more in Jay made short work of counting the paper ballots, he said.
The Jay Town Council had voted last summer to do away with the justice position, but the action was subject to a permissive referendum. Fred Balzac, a Green Party candidate for Town Council, successfully petitioned for the public vote.
Douglas favored eliminating the second justice spot.
“I am pleased,” he said. “We’re constantly looking for ways to save taxpayer dollars, and this is one way to do it.”
Jay does not have a major highway such as Interstate 87 running through the town, he noted, and so doesn’t get the high number of cases that tend to accompany that heavily trafficked road.
So his community, he said, can get along fine with just one justice on the bench.
ON THE BALLOT
The second justice job is held by Robert Minogue, who was running for re-election this year as an independent. The other candidates were independents Rosamond Lincoln-Day and Rodney Dockum.
Lincoln-Day had been vying for the post as a Green Party candidate but was removed from that ballot line on a technicality.
The special election on eliminating the job was scheduled too late for its results to be used to remove the justice race from the Jay ballot. It will still be on the Nov. 5 general election ballot, but since the job was eliminated, the winner will not serve.
Each justice receives a fixed annual salary of $9,499 that the town was considering raising to $12,000 for a single justice if voters OK’d the elimination of one.
Minogue has been criticized for going to Florida during the winter and at other times, but he said he is always available and often flies back at his own expense to conduct court sessions.
Portions of court fines and costs also generate income for the town that helps offset the judges’ salaries.
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