UTICA — Anthony J. Brindisi, former congressman for New York’s 22nd District, is running for a newly created seat in the state Supreme Court’s Fifth Judicial District.
The Utica Democrat, who served one term in Congress after winning election in 2018, said he hopes to bring his history of legislative skill to the state judiciary.
He is running for a seat created by a state law passed in May, which added fourteen new seats to the various districts of the state Supreme Court, including one new seat in the Fifth Judicial District. The district is comprised of Jefferson, Lewis, Oswego, Herkimer, Oneida and Onondaga counties, with Supreme Court judges being elected by voters district-wide.
“I’ve thought long and hard about the qualities that make a good judge,” Mr. Brindisi said Sunday afternoon. “Integrity, experience, independence. I feel that I best represent those qualities.”
Before winning election to the House of Representatives, Mr. Brindisi served as the Assembly member for the 119th District, which covers the cities of Utica and Rome, from 2011 to 2018. Before that, Mr. Brindisi was a practicing lawyer and a member of the Utica City School District Board of Education.
As a legislator, federally and at the state level, Mr. Brindisi was known for bucking the wider trend of his party. In 2013 in the Assembly, Mr. Brindisi was one of eight Assembly Democrats who voted against the NY SAFE gun control act. He received a National Rifle Association endorsement in 2016 and a 100% rating in 2017, although he received a failing grade from the NRA when he announced his run for Congress.
In Congress, Mr. Brindisi was a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, which represented a group of Democratic legislators who described themselves as centrists or conservatives. Mr. Brindisi left office in 2020 after a close election and a series of mistakes at the Oneida County Board of Elections put his race against now-Rep. Claudia L. Tenney, R-New Hartford, in front of a state Supreme Court justice in Oswego.
After months of legal wrangling which left the 22nd Congressional District without a representative until Feb. 8, Mr. Brindisi conceded defeat against Rep. Tenney, whom he had beat for the office in 2018.
Mr. Brindisi said his familiarity with the court system, having worked on the other side of it for years as a trial lawyer, makes him a perfect candidate for a seat in the Supreme Court’s Fifth Judicial District.
“For over 15 years, I practiced civil litigation, primarily in the Supreme Court, helping people navigate their legal disputes in and out of the courtroom,” he said. “I am very familiar with the Supreme Court and the kind of issues that come before judges that preside there.”
He said he believes he has the temperament and ability to weigh the issues that is integral to serving as a judge, and the necessary familiarity with the region as well.
“I’ve represented large parts of Upstate New York for the past 10 years, at the state or national level, so I know the people of this community,” he said. “I think they know me and the character I bring to the table, so I hope to be able to serve this region as a justice in the Supreme Court.”
Typically when a justice wins election to a seat on the court, they are able to serve out of a nearby courtroom. Mr. Brindisi currently lives in Utica, and said he was not yet sure if he would be appointed to a courtroom in the city or someplace else in the Fifth Judicial District.
“I would have to talk to the administrative law judge about where the needs are and try to make myself available wherever I am most needed,” Mr. Brindisi said.
Mr. Brindisi’s name will appear on the general election ballot in November, and if elected, he would take the bench in January 2022. A Republican candidate from Onondaga County, Danielle Fogel, has also announced she is running for the seat.