Drago to leave Schenectady County bench at end of term

Friday, January 31, 2014
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— Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago will not seek re-election when her term on the bench ends this year.

She said she has thought hard about what she would do, but she informed county Republican officials in January that she would not seek another term.

“I think it’s time for a new chapter in my life,” she said Friday.

Drago, 58, was elected in 2004 to a 10-year term on the County Court bench.

Her impending retirement leaves an open race for the judgeship this fall.

On the Democratic side, City Court Judge Matthew Sypniewski got his party’s endorsement last weekend.

Republicans are expected to endorse a candidate in the coming weeks, after an interview process, Schenectady County Republican Chairman James Buhrmaster said.

Kenneth Litz and Brian Mercy, town justices from Rotterdam and Glenville respectively, have confirmed their interest in getting the GOP endorsement, Buhrmaster said. Glenville Town Justice Paul Davenport has also expressed interest but hasn’t formally thrown his hat in the ring.

Mercy, 40, has been practicing criminal law since 2001. He has been a town or village justice for six years. Currently, he is a town justice in Glenville and assistant conflict defender. He also has a private practice.

“I feel I would bring the right sort of experience from both sides of the bench,” he said.

Litz and Davenport could not be reached for comment Friday.

Sypniewski, 38, is seeking the County Court bench after three years as Schenectady City Court judge and seven years in the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office, where he headed the major crimes bureau.

“County Court is the one court where all of our most serious felony criminal cases are handled,” he said. “That’s where I think I can make the most difference.”

Drago became a County Court judge after six years as Schenectady City Court judge. By the time her term ends, she’ll have 16 years total on the bench.

She is the only Schenectady County Court judge. Judges from other counties are frequently brought in to help with the caseload. She also oversees Schenectady County’s Drug Court program.

She said she intends to spend some of her time traveling.

“It’s been a great run,” Drago said. “It’s been a privilege to serve this community. It’s been fulfilling, but I think it’s time.”

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