Nov 24, 2010 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
George Betts is no stranger to local government. For the last seven years he has been a councilor and deputy supervisor for the town of Elbridge, and for seven years before that he was a village of Jordan trustee.
Betts graduated from Jordan-Elbridge in 1980 and went on to attend Moody Bible Institute, where he earned a degree in pastoral/ Christian education. He lives in Elbridge with his wife of 26 years, Melanie, who is employed at New England Motor Freight. Their daughter, Sarah Pashchuk, 24, is a registered nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital with her husband, Yuri.
Betts is the buyer/ manager at M. Lemp Jewelers in downtown Syracuse, where he has worked for more than 22 years.
Betts was elected to the position of Elbridge Town Justice on Nov. 2. He will join Judge Gale Mitchell, an Elbridge Town Justice of three years, in January, and take the seat left vacant by Patricia DeRue, who is about to complete her 12th year in the position.
Eagle Observer: What led you to run for town justice?
George Betts: I have enjoyed working in public office the last 14 years; the position of town justice is a new area for me to serve. The opportunity for such a seat does not become available all that frequently, so when the door opened up I was eager for a new challenge.
EO: What attracted you to the position?
GB: I have always had a great deal of respect for the law and process; this is a tremendous opportunity to uphold the law at the local level.
EO: What do you bring to the table?
GB: As a longtime member of our community, who is civically involved, I have knowledge of our community and our residents. While holding public office I have been known for being upfront and handling my job with respect and diligence. I work hard at being a discerning listener.
EO: Can you briefly describe the duties of town justice?
GB: The town justice presides over the town court, and in Elbridge each justice convenes court every other Monday evening. Town court has jurisdiction over a broad range of matters, including vehicle and traffic matters, small claims, evictions, civil matters and criminal offenses. Furthermore, town justices need to be available for arraignments, many of which may be late at night. The position also allows me the opportunity to perform marriages.
EO: How have you prepared yourself to take up this role?
GB: I have invested considerable time in interacting with our court personnel in Elbridge; our current justices have been very gracious in allowing me access to educational materials offered to them and our two court clerks have been patient to answer my questions. In the Fifth Judicial District, new town justices are assigned a mentor judge; Judge Stephen Poli of Camillus was selected as my mentor. The mentoring process involves meeting with my mentor as well as attending their court. I have completed this; there will be further interaction as I go along. Recently I attended a technology training session to introduce me to some of the electronic resources, the e-mail system and the digital recorder that is used every time court is in session. On my own I have visited all 19 town courts in Onondaga County, along with several village courts as well as a day visiting Syracuse city courts. This has exposed me to many hours of court time to observe practices and procedures, along with a significant variety of cases. The most significant preparation will take place when I start the “Taking the Bench” course commencing shortly. This is a course mandated by New York State prior to being allowed to serve in this capacity.
EO: You were a town of Elbridge councilor for seven years. What was your proudest moment as councilor?
GB: The completion of the Elbridge West Water District was a significant undertaking and I was very pleased with the outcome. The project had been stalled for lack of funding for many years. Shortly after coming on the board we were able to obtain funding, gather support and get it built. The end result has been additional jobs and business growth in this portion of the town along with several new houses.
EO: What will you miss the most about the position?
QB: The interaction with our residents as we have worked together to tackle the challenges before us.
EO: As deputy supervisor, was there a time when you had to step in for Ken Bush that stands out in your mind?
GB: It has been very seldom that I have had to step in for Ken; however, I am known for having efficiently run meetings of brief duration.
EO: Looking ahead, what challenges do you expect to face as town justice?
GB: Keeping on top of the changes of law that occur on a regular basis while handling our very active court. The state comptroller ranked Elbridge as the 10th busiest town court in Onondaga County for last year.
EO: What part of being Elbridge town justice do you look forward to the most?
GB: At this point the training is daunting; I look forward to completing this and doing the job to the best of my ability.