Saugerties board taps Claudia Andreassen to be town justice (video)
SAUGERTIES, N.Y. — A former Ulster County probation officer was chosen Friday to serve as a Saugerties town justice.
The Town Board voted 4-1 during a special meeting to appoint Claudia Andreassen through Dec. 31, 2012. She will replace Wendy Ricks, who is stepping down to take a job with the Ulster County Department of Social Services.
Councilman Fred Costello cast the lone vote against Andreassen’s appointment, stating he would have preferred to appoint an attorney.
“This was a very difficult process for all of us,” said town Supervisor Kelly Myers said. She said the quality of applicants was outstanding and that she voted for Andreassen in part because of her experience working in various courts in the county and because of her ability to look at alternatives to incarceration.
Councilwoman Leanne Thornton said the board interviewed seven candidates, with Andreassen’s interview taking place within the hour prior to the vote. Thornton said each of the candidates would have made a wonderful judge.
After the Town Board voted, Ricks said she was concerned a non-attorney had been chosen for the bench. She said an attorney would have been able to step right into the position but that a non-attorney and someone who has not served as a judge before will have to take classes that may not be readily available at this time of year. Ricks said that means the town’s other judge, Daniel Lamb, will have to handle all Town Court matters on his own.
Andreassen said by phone later Friday that she was “very excited” by the appointment and will do the job to the best of her ability. She also said she does not expect the necessary training to create any problems.
Andreassen served as an Ulster County probation officer from 1986 to 2011 and has been a licensed real estate broker since 1981. She earned a bachelor of arts degree from Marietta College in 1968 and a master’s of professional studies in humanistic education from SUNY New Paltz in 2005. She also has taken courses in criminology, abnormal psychology and sociology at Ulster County Community College.
Costello said Andreassen has a strong background in criminal law but that he was concerned about her lack of experience in civil matters. He said many cases that come to Town Court are civil in nature. Continued...
Ricks’ resignation is effective Sunday. She is expected to earn $62,136 annually in her new job with the county.
Saugerties town justices are paid about $27,000 each per year for part-time work.
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