Joyce, Brooks clear winners in field of seven

Sherri Brooks

ALBANY COUNTY — Seven lawyers vied in the Democratic primary Tuesday for two spots on the Albany County Family Court bench: A law clerk and an attorney working in indigent defense came out on top, over candidates including a retired police officer and a judge.

Amy E. Joyce and Sherri J. Brooks received the most votes and will serve as the Democratic candidates, according to unofficial results from the Albany County Board of Elections Wednesday morning. Since they face no Republican candidates in November, they were essentially elected on Tuesday.

Two judgeships were open since Margaret Walsh was elected to State Supreme Court and Gerald Maney is retiring. The sitting judges are Susan Kushner and Richard Rivera.

The unofficial tally was:

— Amy E. Joyce, 6,792 votes, 21 percent;

— Sherri J. Brooks, 6,736 or 21 percent;

— Jennifer K. Corona, 5,314 or 16 percent;

—  Margaret C. Tabak, 3,887 or 12 percent;

— William P. Andrews, 3,823 or 12 percent;

— David J. Levy, 2,329 or 7 percent; and

— Michael S. Barone, 2,183 or 7 percent. 

There were also 1,297 write-in votes. 

Roughly half of Albany County’s 182,351 enrolled voters are Democrats. Only about 11 percent voted in Tuesday’s primary.

About 42,000 are not affiliated with any party, and about 34,000 are Republicans. The rest are enrolled in small parties. As a result of these numbers, Democratic primaries for county posts often determine the winner of the November general election.

 

Amy E. Joyce 

Amy E. Joyce, who lives in Bethlehem, called the result “a bit surreal” and said the campaign has been a whirlwind. 

She is “thrilled and grateful,” she said, “to all the voters and to all my friends and family who helped me from the get-go.”

She had the backing of Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple.

For the past 14 years, Joyce, 50, has worked as principal law clerk, first for the State Supreme Court and now for the State Appellate Division, she told The Enterprise earlier, explaining that a principal law clerk works closely with the judges to decide cases.

Her work in the Appellate Division includes deciding appeals in 28 family courts in 28 upstate counties. Previously she served as Deputy County Attorney for former Albany County Executive Michael Breslin. 

The daughter of Harold Joyce, former chairman of the Albany County Legislature, Amy Joyce has two brothers in the county legislature.

Joyce is excited to get to work, she said. 

Asked what she hopes to accomplish, Joyce replied, “I just hope to get a tone of respect in my courtroom and to make sure people know that they have been heard, and that people get the services and treatment that they need to get some stability in their lives.

This is Joyce’s first run for elected office. 

The field was crowded with qualified candidates; was she surprised by the result? 

She had had no idea what to expect, she said, partly because this was the first year that a primary was held in June; state election reform moved up the schedule for primaries by several months. 

“I know we all worked really hard,” Joyce said of her campaign, “and, however it turned out, I would have been proud of our effort.” 

 

Sherri J. Brooks 

Sherri J. Brooks, speaking by cell phone from her daughter’s graduation from Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School, said Wednesday morning that she was “shocked” by her victory and had not fully processed the result yet. 

Brooks has been involved in indigent defense for 12 years. She headed the Alternate Public Defender’s Office for seven years and was with the Public Defender’s Office for five years before that. 

County Executive Daniel McCoy called her last night when just 60 percent of the vote was in, and she told him, “Don’t call me until it’s official.” 

He called her back later and said, “‘You did it, baby, you’re judge!’” she recalled.

She said she knew that she was the right person for the post and that it feels “so good to have that validated.” 

What she hopes to accomplish is “to give our families the support and services they have been lacking for too long and to keep our youth out of the criminal-justice system,” she said. 

Brooks, 41, who lives in the city of Albany, ran two years ago for Albany City Court judge. 

She will be the first African-American woman to serve as a family court judge, she told The Enterprise; Democratic Commissioner of the Albany County Board of Elections Matthew Clyne said that he believed that was correct. 

Brooks will be the second person of color. Current Family Court Judge Richard Rivera is Hispanic. 

More Regional News

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  • Two more Albany County residents have died of COVID-19, the county’s executive, Daniel McCoy, reported on Monday, bringing the death toll to 138. He also said that, since the start of the pandemic, suicides and deaths from drug overdoses in the county are “through the roof.”

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