With all 79 Ulster County polling places reporting, Family Court attorney Gilda Riccardi of Saugerties scored a decisive victory Tuesday, September 9 over two challengers in the Democratic primary for a new Family Court judgeship.
Unofficial returns, which don’t include absentee ballots, show Riccardi with 2,713 votes (45.8 percent), compared to 2,074 for Kingston attorney Kevin Bryant (35.2 percent). Family Court support magistrate John Beisel trailed with 1,115 (18.8 percent).
“I was the financial underdog, but I always felt I was the best one for this job,” Riccardi said Tuesday night at a victory party from her home on Malden-on-Hudson. She credited a small cadre of friends and supporters, mostly from Saugerties, “who believed in me, who stood by me. I believed in me, too. I hope I can go the distance.”
Riccardi said she worked in Family Court on primary day, as usual, but planned to take Wednesday off. “I’ll be back with my judge [Tony McGinty] on Thursday,” she said. “It’s a very busy place.”
Riccardi will face Republican candidate Keri Savona of Kingston in the Nov. 4 general election. Savona won the Independence line by 2-1 over Bryant at primary and will also appear on the Conservative Party line. Bryant will appear on the Working Families line in November.
In the race for the Democratic nomination for governor, Zephyr Teachout outpolled incumbent Andrew Cuomo with almost 70 percent of the vote in Ulster. Tim Wu, her running mate for lieutenant governor, beat Cuomo running mate Kathy Hochul by a similar margin in Ulster. Both challengers were losing the state by about 60-40.
Turnout among the county’s 37,400 Democrats was about 16 percent, average for party primaries.
Riccardi, 60, has been court attorney to family judge Anthony McGinty for the past nine years. She was the Democratic candidate for county clerk in 2012. She attended SUNY New Paltz and graduated from New York Law School.
Beisel, 48, has been family court magistrate for the past 16 years. A native of Port Ewen, he practiced in Family Court as a private attorney before being appointed to his present post. He is a graduate of Boston College and Syracuse University’s school of law.
Bryant, 45, has been a prosecuting attorney and a public defender for most of his 20-year career. He is a Kingston native, graduating from Kingston High School and Albany Law School.
Savona, 38, of Kingston, has been a senior attorney at the Department of Social Services for five years. Her duties include supervision of DSS cases in family court. She is a graduate of Villanova Law School.
The term of office is 10 years, beginning on Jan. 1, at an annual salary of $161,000.