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Catena concedes Supreme Court loss

Decision came down to 70 votes

December 29, 2012
By MICHAEL ANICH , The Leader Herald

Montgomery County Court Judge Felix Catena conceded victory Friday in his state Supreme Court race to Franklin County Family Court magistrate John T. Ellis by a mere 70 votes.

He said he was told by the state Board of Elections he had lost the Nov. 6 general election race by that amount, although he was leading by 61 votes the next day.

"The state certified my [final] numbers," Catena said from his home Friday.

Article Photos

Judge Felix Catena

Republican Catena was in an eight-person race for four available state Supreme Court seats in the state's 11-county 4th Judicial District.

Immediately following the election, Catena was unofficially ahead of John Ellis 135,616 to 135,555, coming in fourth place for the final seat.

Others who now have won seats, in addition to the Republican Ellis are: Republican incumbent state Supreme Court Justice Joseph Sise of Montgomery County; Republican Thomas Buchanan, a Rotterdam attorney; and Democratic Schenectady County Family Court Judge Christine Clark.

"Obviously, I would have preferred the outcome to be different," Catena said.

But the judge termed the Supreme Court run a "positive" one, although he laughed and didn't answer when asked if he would ever run for the position again.

"It really was a rewarding experience," he said. "I got in late."

He said he enjoys his work on the Montgomery County Court bench, and he sits in as an acting Supreme Court justice periodically.

Catena ran for one of the 4th Judicial District seats, which will be vacated by sitting state Supreme Court Justice Richard T. Aulisi in Johnstown.

Aulisi is stepping down because he will reach the mandatory state judicial retirement age of 70 by the end of the year.

State Supreme Court justice terms span 14 years.

Winners take office in January.

The annual base salary for a state Supreme Court justice is $136,700.

Fulton County Family Court Judge Edward F. Skoda expressed early interest in Aulisi's seat, and Republican county chairmen in all 11 counties in the 4th Judicial District said in January they were endorsing Skoda. But Fulton County Republican Committee Chairwoman Susan McNeil said Skoda formally withdrew his candidacy June 18.

After that announcement, Catena stepped in and showed interest.

Catena is serving his second 10-year term as a Montgomery County Court judge. He was appointed by former Republican Gov. George Pataki to the bench in 1999 and ran successfully for a 10-year term in November 1999. He was re-elected without opposition in 2009.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at



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