By Russ Tarby
Village of Liverpool Judge Tony LaValle prevailed over incumbent Salina Town Judge Andy Piraino in last week’s Democratic primary, and after some five dozen absentee ballots were tallied on Sept. 19, Lavalle maintained his lead.
After the voting on Sept. 12, LaValle enjoyed a 30-vote lead, 317 to Piraino’s 287.
Although Onondaga County Board of Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny declined to release any specific numbers on Sept. 19, Czarny said a significant number of the absentee balloters favored LaValle. The Liverpool jurist’s Primary Day lead will hold up, and he’ll become the official Democratic candidate for the judgeship on the November ballot.
The incumbent Piraino, who is seeking his sixth four-year term, has already secured three ballot lines for the Nov. 7 election – Republican, Conservative and independent. He earns a salary of $35,918, according to SeeThroughNY.com. LaValle earns about $14,000 as village justice.
The Sept. 12 primary was unusual in that it pitted two longtime Republicans against each other seeking to be listed on the Democratic line in November.
When he ran in 2009, Piraino was cross-endorsed by the Democrats, but in 2013 that party nominated attorney Aaron Arnold to oppose him. Piraino, who first took office in 1994, easily survived Arnold’s challenge by drawing 58.8 percent of votes cast.
Salina Town Democratic Chairman Chris Shepherd pointed out that – in his first campaign for village justice in 2008 – LaValle ran not as a Republican but as an independent on his own “Residents’ Party” line. He defeated Republican candidate George Alessio by a vote of 247-225.
Last year, LaValle waged a successful grass-roots effort to retain the Liverpool Village Court – and his job as village justice – after the Liverpool Board of Trustees voted 3-1 on April 14 to abolish the court and consolidate it with Salina Town Court.
After hundreds of villagers signed petitions circulated by LaValle calling for a referendum, the June 21, 2016, village election saw voters overwhelmingly overturn the trustees’ resolution to consolidate the courts, 370 to 138.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.