Justice race is close call

In the race for state Supreme Court justice for the eighth district, Chautauqua County residents have a choice between two worthy candidates: Mark Montour and Paul Wojtaszek.

Wojtaszek, of Tonawanda, comes with some high credentials. He served as assistant district attorney in Niagara County and was later appointed by the state Attorney General as special assistant Attorney General in the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the New York City office to prosecute serious felony cases. Currently, he is the confidential law clerk to the state Supreme Court. It is a position he has held for 16 years.

He is endorsed by the Republican and Independence parties and has received a well qualified rating from the Erie County Bar Association.

Montour, who currently serves as a private attorney and town justice in Lancaster, is endorsed by the Democrats, Working Families and Conservative parties. He also serves as acting judge in Buffalo and Batavia.

One of Montour’s proudest accomplishments in Lancaster is with the drug court he began in 2007. Touted as the Problem Solving Court by Montour, it assists individuals between 17 and 19 who suffer from drug abuse or dependency issues that lead to interaction with the criminal justice system. Through early this month, the court had graduated 33 participants.

In this contest, we offer a slight edge to Montour, who is rated as qualified by the Erie County Bar Association and would be the first Native American – an enrolled member of the St. Regis Mohawk tribe – to hold a state court position if elected.

What’s your opinion?

Agree or disagree with our endorsement? You are welcome to tell us why through our People’s column. Letters regarding the Nov. 5 election are being accepted through Thursday at 5 p.m. The final day election letters will be published is Sunday.