Judge’s father alleges coercion, Dem chairman denies it

GUILDERLAND — The father of town Justice Christine Napierski has a paid ad in this week’s Enterprise extolling his daughter’s virtues as a law-firm partner and judge. In the “Dear Neighbor” open letter, Eugene E. Napierski claims that his daughter was told by the town’s Democratic Party to step aside and endorse Bryan Clenahan for the fall election.

“Christine was told that, if she refused, she would never have the support of the party in the future and her career as a judge would be over,” Mr. Napierski writes. “I was there when she received the phone call.”

The town’s Democratic committee chairman, Jacob Crawford, categorically denied the allegation.

“That statement is not accurate plain and simple,” he wrote in an email to The Enterprise when asked about the assertion. “This is a desperate attempt by a political campaign to impose their will on the process and utilize a brand of politics that the world has passed by … We will not be strong armed by people that believe they can use money and negative politics to get what they want.”

After Democrat Richard Sherwood — one of three Guilderland judges — was arrested on felony charges and stepped down as town judge, the Guilderland Town board — made up of four Democrats and one Republican — unanimously voted on April 13 to appoint Napierski as judge.

Fourteen candidates, including Clenahan, had applied for the post. In June, the Guilderland Democratic Committee was unanimous in backing Clenahan rather than Napierski for the post.

She wants to continue as judge and emailed this statement to The Enterprise: “I am running for election and I am a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination, the Conservative Party nomination, and the Independence Party nomination. It is my understanding the Democratic candidate for town justice will be selected by a vote of the enrolled Democratic voters at the Democratic Party caucus, which is scheduled for July 26. It is my hope that I will be nominated by the Democratic Party at the upcoming caucus.”

— Melissa Hale-Spencer, editor

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