Ettinger for county judge represents a break from establishment

Posted 17 October 2017 at 6:36 pm


When I first became an attorney, I had the opportunity to practice in Orleans County Court before the Honorable James Punch. Specifically, I had a Family Court matter where Sandy Church was appointed as the Attorney for the Child.

To say that having a case with Mr. Church was unpleasant would be putting it mildly. Not only was Mr. Church condescending and patronizing in his interactions with me, but also my client. When I asked around about raising Mr. Church’s behaviors with Judge Punch, I realized it would be pointless – Judge Punch and Mr. Church are good friends.

Years later, I find out he is set to succeed Judge Punch for Orleans County Court Judge (as this most assuredly is a succession, as Judge Punch admitted in his letter to the Editor). I was not surprised to learn of this exercise in nepotism, but find myself disappointed for the residents of Orleans County. Not only did I begin my legal career in Orleans County, but my father was born and raised in Albion and I still have family members living there today.

Orleans is a county of hard working and humble citizens. Having only one candidate, and a prime example of an “establishment” candidate, no less, struck me as being the antithesis of what Orleans residents deserve. Do Orleans residents want a candidate handpicked by his predecessor? Do Orleans residents want to be told by a bunch of local attorneys, whose bank accounts rely on regular assignments from the sitting Judge, for whom to vote? Do Orleans residents want a Judge who will continue to rule as Judge Punch had done for almost 3 decades? Do Orleans residents want a Judge who behaved rudely to other attorneys and parties in his practice? Do Orleans residents want to elect a man that will have conflicts with so many cases that he will not be able to preside over them? I would imagine that the answer to all these questions is a resounding “no!”

Then I discovered that Orleans residents will have another option – Tonia Ettinger. Ms. Ettinger was born and raised in Orleans County and, like me, began her legal career in Orleans County. However, for the past several years her practice has been outside of Orleans County. She is not indebted to the legal establishment nor bound to follow their standard.

Working with Ms. Ettinger is a pleasure, as she is not only knowledgeable, but also humble and welcoming. Ms. Ettinger has the community connections, the education and the experience to serve the residents of Orleans County well. Furthermore, she will provide a much-needed change from the establishment of almost three decades.

On November 7th, voters must ask themselves one question: do I want a Judge, who will affect people’s lives in the most important ways, to be an establishment attorney who will rule as his predecessor has done for nearly three decades, or do I want a Judge who is not only qualified, but will be impartial, independent and fair? If you want the latter, then you must vote Tonia Ettinger for Orleans County Court.

Katie Woodruff