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Possible candidates emerge for Jefferson County Family Court judge seat

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Possible candidates are emerging for a Jefferson County Family Court judge seat that has not been seriously contested in about 30 years.

Judge Richard V. Hunt has not formally announced whether he will again seek the seat he has held since January 1985, although he is nearing the mandatory retirement age of 70 for judges in the state. He could not be reached for comment this week on his plans.

First elected in November 1984, Judge Hunt ran unopposed for 10-year terms in 1994 and 2004.

Four potential candidates, three Republicans and a Democrat, have been mentioned around the County Court complex as being interested in the position should Judge Hunt opt to retire. Republicans Eugene J. Langone Jr., Kathy L. Quencer and Timothy L. Virkler are said to be considering runs, along with Democrat Susan A. Sovie.

Because of strict guidelines placed on judicial prospects by the state’s Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics regarding when and how they can declare their candidacy or begin raising money toward a campaign, none of the potential candidates are able to say for certain yet that they are running.

Mrs. Quencer, who is under even stricter constraints than the other candidates because she is a sitting justice in the town of Brownville, said Friday she is “reviewing my options at this time.” Miss Sovie also was unable to confirm her candidacy.

“Due to strong urging and support from the community and the party to run, it is under serious consideration at this time, but no decision has been made,” she said.

In addition to the limitations placed by the state committee, Mr. Langone said he wanted to wait until Judge Hunt has made his intentions known before announcing his decision, while Mr. Virkler could not be reached for comment Friday.

According to a campaign ethics handbook prepared by the state committee, a candidate can meet privately with the head of a local political committee or its members to “test the waters,” but cannot contact voters to gauge support until they officially declare themselves a candidate, which is subject to specific windows of time. Candidates cannot declare themselves as such until nine months before the date in which a party’s nominating committee convenes, which usually occurs in September. If no date for the convention has been set, the candidate can use the previous year’s convention date to count back nine months.

Mr. Langone, Watertown, a partner at Hrabchak Gebo and Langone, Watertown, has been practicing in Family Court for more than 25 years, having been admitted into the state bar in 1988. Before entering private practice, he was an assistant county attorney for about six years.

Mrs. Quencer, Brownville, is a partner at Proven & Quencer, Watertown, having practiced law in the county since 1991. She is entering her sixth year as Brownville town justice.

Mr. Virkler, Watertown, is law clerk for Surrogate Court Judge Peter A. Schwerzmann. Prior to that, he was an assistant district attorney with the county. He has been practicing law since 2002.

Miss Sovie, Sackets Harbor, owner of Susan A. Sovie Law Firm, Watertown, has been an attorney since 1995. She is a member of the state’s Fifth Judicial District’s attorney grievance committee and is on the board of the state’s Office of Indigent Legal Services.

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