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Lowville native Virkler enters Jefferson County Family Court judge race


Lowville native Timothy L. Virkler believes that his nearly decade-long experience working in the Jefferson County court system has prepared him well to serve as Family Court judge.

Introduced by his “biggest supporter” — his 6-year-old son, Will — Mr. Virkler formally announced his candidacy for the 10-year seat Wednesday at the Best Western Carriage House Inn, 300 Washington St.

Mr. Virkler, a Republican who lives in Watertown, is the principal court attorney for Surrogate Court Judge Peter A. Schwerzmann, who is also an acting Family Court and state Supreme Court judge. Mr. Virkler said that as Judge Schwerzmann’s primary legal adviser, he has worked side-by-side daily with the judge as the judge presided over a busy docket of arraignments, conferences and trials in all areas of law. He said that through this experience, he has learned the responsibilities, roles and pressures of being a county-level judge.

“Let me be clear: Being a Family Court judge is not easy,” he said. “In addition to the tremendous volume of cases heard each year, the nature of the court means the Family Court judge has to preside over one of the most emotionally charged subjects: family relationships and children. At best, families who enter the Family Court system are in conflict, and more often than not are in crisis.”

He said his guiding principle as a judge would be to treat all litigants and attorneys fairly and allow them to fully state their cases.

“While no judge can promise to resolve cases in a way that makes everybody happy, I strongly believe that by giving all individuals the time and opportunity to present their positions to the judge, at least they will leave the courtroom with the satisfaction of knowing that the judge heard them and considered what they had to say,” Mr. Virkler said.

He said he also recognizes that it is stressful for a family, already in the midst of highly emotional circumstances, to have to wait for a judge’s decision, and he vowed to issue bench rulings whenever possible, rather than make the parties wait for a written decision.

Mr. Virkler, 38, is vice president of the board of directors for North Country Transitional Living Services and is board secretary for the Volunteer Transportation Center. In addition, he is a member of Samaritan Medical Center’s ethics committee and treasurer of the Lowville Academy Alumni and Friends Association, among other community involvement. He is a Jefferson Community College faculty member, having taught its paralegal program’s Legal Research and Writing class for the past eight years. He also has served as an instructor for the Judicial Education Program for town and village justices and presented at various continuing legal education seminars.

Mr. Virkler received his law degree from Albany Law School and his bachelor’s degree in international studies from American University, Washington, D.C. He lives with his wife, Mariko, and son in Watertown.

Democrat Susan A. Sovie, Sackets Harbor, announced Monday that she also is running to succeed Judge Richard V. Hunt, who is retiring after 30 years as a judge. Republican Eugene J. Langone Jr., Watertown, will formally announce that he is running at 4 p.m. Friday at the Italian-American Civic Association, 192 Bellew Ave. Republican Kathy L. Quencer, Brownville, also has expressed interest in the position.

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