Conservatives and Democrats back candidate for county judge

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 September 2017 at 12:27 pm

Tonia Ettinger, attorney in Rochester, endorsed to run against Sanford Church

Tonia Ettinger

Two political parties in Orleans County have endorsed a Rochester attorney to run for county judge against Sanford Church.

Tonia Ettinger has been endorsed by both the Conservative Party and Democratic Party.

She graduated from Medina High School, earned a bachelor’s degree at Geneseo State College and her law degree at the University at Buffalo School of Law.

She worked as an attorney in Albion before joining the Legal Aid Society in Rochester about nine years ago.

Al Lofthouse, chairman of the Conservative Party, and Jeanne Crane, chairwoman of the Democratic Party, both said they wanted Orleans County voters to have a choice on Nov. 7.

Church, an attorney for more than 30 years, has worked as the county’s public defender for about two decades. He has widespread support among attorneys in the community, including James Punch, who retired after nearly 27 years as county judge on July 29.

In her job with Legal Aid, Ettinger works with low-income clients from birth to age 21, representing them in various proceedings, including abuse, neglect, guardianship, paternity, custody, visitation, orders of protection, juvenile delinquencies, persons in need of supervision, and termination of parental rights. Prior to joining the Legal Aid Society, Ettinger worked in private practice. She was president of the Orleans County Bar Association from 2008 to 2010.

Ettinger doesn’t have to live in Orleans County to be a candidate. If she is elected, she would have to move back to the county, Crane said.

“She is a local person,” Crane said.

The Orleans County Democratic Party Committee recently decided not to cross-endorse Republican candidates for county-wide positions, Crane said.

The committee is impressed by Ettinger’s resume and commitment to service, Crane said.

The Orleans County Conservative Committee endorsed her unanimously.

Ettinger issued this statement to the Conservative Party:

“I am the oldest of four children,” Ettinger said. “I moved around a lot as a child, changed schools many times and was the first in my family to go to college. My mother and step-father divorced when I was 10 and so I was essentially raised by a single mother. I do not come from a wealthy family and we struggled with poverty. I often cared for my younger siblings so my mother could work. My college and law school tuition was paid by loans, financial aid, scholarships and my employment wages. I started working as soon I was able and continued working throughout high school, college and law school.

“At a young age, I knew I wanted to make a better life for myself, and that I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. I know some of my clients face many of same challenges I did and I am always hopeful that being a source of support and encouragement they too will realize that they can overcome life’s obstacles, whether big or small. Being able to make even a small difference in the lives of these families has fueled my passion for public service and I am ready to bring that passion to the judiciary.”

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