CONCORD—A Concord Town Justice will be elected in November, but with two candidates on the ballot, voters will have a say as early as next week.
Both Leslie Gibbin and Edward Young are running under the democratic, republican, conservative and independent parties. The position is a four-year term and the winner of each party in the primaries will be on the ballot in the general election in November.
Gibbin, the incumbent, has experience in the position, while Young is using his law enforcement background to challenge.
Gibbin has held the position of Town Justice for the last 12 years. An attorney, Gibbin said she finds her job to be beneficial to being a judge. Though she acknowledged it’s not everything, she said her experience as an attorney has been helpful during her tenure.
“It’s not everything … it isn’t,” Gibbin said. “But it’s beneficial. It gives me experience that’s helpful.”
Prior to serving as town justice, the incumbent was also a prosecutor for a year. Her experience, she said, has shown her that it’s not fiscally responsible to have specialty courts in the town, such as drug and gambling charges. With that in mind, however, Gibbin said she will transfer cases to specialty courts that can better serve the individual.
“It’s gratifying when you can make a difference in someone’s life,” she said. “If I can transfer cases to a specialty court, so folks can get the help they need, I will.”
Having specialty court in Concord is “cost prohibitive,” she said, but it’s an important aspect of helping people.
“If they can focus on the person’s problem, get counseling and oversee it, they can focus on the issue … it’s worth [transferring the case,]” Gibbin said
Being able to help people better themselves is one of Gibbin’s favorite parts of the job. With procedures and policies dictating how court runs, Gibbin said there are few things a justice can change.
“The procedures are specific … you can’t ignore the rules,” she said. “I try to take advantage of the available resources.”
Despite having those policies, Gibbin said the best part of being town justice is hearing from those she has helped.
“Most people accept what [their sentence],” she said. “That’s fine. But it’s really humbling when a parent thanks you for helping their child.”
A 20 year resident of Western New York, and 14 year resident of Concord, Young is ready to become more involved. While working as a New York State Trooper, Young covered the Concord area and spent some time in court.
“I [saw] some things I didn’t agree with … and heard [second hand] some things I didn’t agree with,” he said. “I don’t like the way my town is being represented and the only way to change that is to run.”
The father of two retired from the New York State Troopers in March, after 29 years. In his years as a trooper, Young attended court hearings across the state, where his interest piqued. Attending different county and state courts showed Young how a good court is ran, which he plans on bringing to Concord court.
“I will be very professional, not berate anyone in court and give the town much more than 8 hours,” Young said. “I will be well versed in my cases … impartial and fair.”
Working as a trooper gave Young a good experience in dealing with the public and allowed him to have his “fingers in the criminal justice system.” He describes himself as a family man who is dedicated to the Town of Concord. Overall, Young wants to bring a professional appearance to the court.
“The key is to listen to people, treat them fairly and the truth emerges,” Young said. “The benchmark of civilization is the quality of its justice system.”
With an interest in serving as justice, his recent retirement gave Young an opportunity to take the next step and run.
“Being aware of what's going on in town … and having an interest in how things are decided,” he said. “I just think now is an appropriate time.”
The primary election will be Tuesday, Sept. 12. Polling begins at 6 a.m. and will close at 9 p.m. To find a polling place, visit elections.erie.gov.