“This is what I do; my whole experience has been in the court. . . This is my community; this is what I love,” Dell said in an interview with the Skaneateles Press when asked why she is running for reelection.
Dell said she never saw herself as a judge. “I was very, very happy and fulfilled being the court clerk, it’s an important position,” she said, but when Town Justice James Matthews decided to retire in 2007, he encouraged Dell to run for the position. “I was 55 years old and thought: if I don’t take a shot at this now I never will.”
Dell said the only philosophy she can and does take to the bench with her is a commitment to fairness, accountability and justice.
“I’m fair, even-tempered, professional, and I believe in accountability,” Dell said. “Everybody makes a mistake and that’s okay, but if it is unlawful they need to be held accountable.”
She said her years as a stay-at-home mom were “some of the best years of my life,” and have influenced her work as a justice. “Yes, many times I do take on that mother tone,” she said with a laugh.
Dell said organization is a key component of the job. The town justice is responsible for ensuring the court clerk accomplishes his or her job completely and thoroughly; a judge’s case notes must be accurate because those notes are the court record (there is no stenographer in town justice court), and on appeal those notes rule the case.
Dell said she is dedicated to her position as town justice and frequently takes work home with her. “Of course, you’re on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week for arraignments . . . You don’t get to call in sick on court nights; certainly things happen but you have to be there for trials and hearings. They involve a number of people and so you can’t just on a dime change something: it costs people money, it costs people time.”