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Letters to the editor

September 8, 2016
Westfield Republican

Family Court Judge petition clarification

Dear editor:

I would like to address the recent concerns of Mrs. Ruhlman, regarding the Family Court Judge petitions of her daughter-in-law, Sherry Bjork.

First, your signatures (yes plural) were challenged because you signed the petition twice, by law you are only allowed to sign once. The challenge had nothing to do with the spelling of your name. By the way, you were not alone, several others signed more than once.

Second, many of the signatures were not allowed because the notary public who claimed to have gathered the signatures had not in fact witnessed the signatures. That is also not legal. It should be noted that on some of the pages included a witness signature by Sherry Bjork and also the Notary so they agreed not to count those because no one knew who witnessed the signatures.

Third, the petition filed claimed to have 1,221 signatures, but only 1,005 were valid. Yes, that was enough to allow the petition to stand forcing a primary, but it was only five over the required minimum. Many who signed her petitions were not witnessed properly, not registered voters or were not registered Republicans, and those signatures were not counted.

Finally, Sherry Bjork's independent petition was rejected by the Board of Elections, I will explain why. The petition, signed and filed by your daughter-in-law, Mrs. Bjork claiming to have sufficient signatures (1,500) was short, very short. Only 961 signatures were filed, only two thirds of the required number. Why would Mrs. Bjork file a petition with only two thirds of the required legal number and sign a statement that she had the required 1,500 signatures?

There was nothing illegal or personal about the objections made to Mrs. Bjork's petitions, rather it was an allowed practice done routinely in the world of politics, which I have been involved in for almost forty years.

I would ask you, if Mrs. Bjork cannot handle this legal action and falsely signs a statement that she has the required number of signatures, what do these actions say about her being a candidate for Judge? Does she have the necessary judicial temperament? Judicial candidates are held to a much higher standard than most politicians. Why would any voter want her to handle the most precious of all cases, those cases that involve the innocents of our County, those cases that come through Family Court.

Yes, I support Michael Sullivan, the "Highly Qualified" candidate for Chautauqua County Family Court Judge and the endorsed Republican, Conservative, Independent and Green Party candidate. He did not play fast and loose with the election law. The challenges I filed were perfectly legal and were filed to uphold the law.

Brent P. Sheldon

Jamestown resident

Chautauqua County primary elections approach

Dear editor,

On September 13, 2016 a primary election will be held in Chautauqua County. By now you should have received notice from the Chautauqua County Board of Elections via mail if you are eligible to vote in this primary. As the Republican Committee chairman for Westfield, I encourage all who are eligible to vote to go to the polls between noon and 9:00 P.M. on Tuesday.

One of the positions that will be on the Republican primary ballot is Family Court Judge. This vacancy was created by the retirement of Judge Judith Claire this summer. The Republican candidate endorsed by both the Chautauqua County Republican Committee and the Westfield Republican Committee is Attorney Michael Sullivan from Fredonia.

Mr. Sullivan has been rated "highly qualified" for election as judge by the New York Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commission. Mike has more than 25 years experience representing children, parents and grandparents in Family Court. Mike has practiced law in New York since February 1985. He is a graduate of the Syracuse University College of Law. Mike received his undergraduate degree from the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio. He is a member of the Northern Chautauqua County, and the Erie County Bar Associations.

Mr. Sullivan is the Attorney for the Child Liaison from Chautauqua County to the Fourth Department Appellate Court program. He serves on the New York State Child Welfare Court Improvement Project Steering Committee for Chautauqua County Family Court. Mike has been the Chautauqua County Liaison to the Appellate Court's Attorney for the Child Program from Chautauqua County for 20 years. He was first appointed by Retired Judge Lynn Hartley, and then continued in that role by Judge Claire. Mike was invited by Judge Claire to assist with the development of the Chautauqua County Family Treatment Court. The court became operational a dozen years ago. Sullivan continues on the court team as the advocate for children.

Sullivan served for 25 years as a member of the Dunkirk-Fredonia Salvation Army Advisory Board. He served 14 years as a member of the SUNY Fredonia College Council, from 1997 until 2011. Sullivan continues to be an active member of the Fredonia Volunteer Fire Department having served in that department for thirty years.

The Family Court Judge is a critical position which demands a person with a wide variety of experience in matters that come before the Family Court. Sullivan's knowledge, skill, and temperament will be a benefit to those who appear before him in Family Court.

The Westfield Republican Committee encourages you to cast your vote for Sullivan on Tuesday for Family Court Judge.

Tom Tarpley




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