Primary showdown for justice post in Thurman

THURMAN Around the region, it is an off-year for the majority of local elections. In the town of Thurman, however, the race for town justice is heating up, featuring three candidates who have very different positions. The ballot order for the Republican Primary on Tuesday, Sept. 9 were determined by random draw, said Warren County Republican Party Board of Elections Commissioner Mary Beth Casey. Carolyn R. Grotevant will be first on the ballot, followed by Douglas J. Collignon and Glenda M. Duell. There are currently no Democratic Party candidates for the Thurman Town Justice post, according to Warren County Democratic Party Chairman William Montfort. Carolyn Grotevant said in a recent interview that she started working within the legal sector in 1985 as a legal research assistant for a small family legal firm in Utica. Grotevant changed positions on several occasions as her career developed, working for firms in Poughkeepsie and Manhattan she said. She is currently a Paralegal at Bartlett, Pontiff, Stewart and Rhodes in Glens Falls. Grotevant graduated from Fonda-Fultonville High School and began raising a family. She lived in Germany for several years in the 1970s during her ex-husbands military service, she said. Grotevant is the daughter of Thurman native Richard Russell, and currently resides at the property on Swamp Meadow Rd. which she inherited from him upon his death in 1989. I have a long family history in Thurman, she said. I obviously would have a lot to learn, but I would do it well. Grotevant describes herself as a compassionate and understanding individual. However, she said that these qualities would be softened by a black and white interpretation of law. When the law is broken there must be restitution to society, she said. Grotevant has never been convicted of a crime, she said. Douglas Collignon Sr. was raised in Bergen County, New Jersey where he graduated from Pascack Valley Regional High School. He graduated from Robert Morris College in Pennsylvania with a Bachelors Degree in business, he said. Collignon has worked in the insurance industry, primarily as a manager of operations in New Jersey and Massachusetts. He has been employed at Tech II Business Services Inc. in Saratoga for a decade as a senior sales engineer. Collignon married Thurman native Deborah Baker and moved to Johnsburg in 1991. He moved to Thurman in 1996. Collignon said justice is the objective application of legal principles, with an understanding of the importance of mitigating circumstances. What are the extenuating circumstances and what is best for everyone, are the fundamental questions to be asked, he said. The law is certainly not always black and white, he said. I would bring an objective fairness, while staying within the limits of the applicable laws pertaining to the issues in question. Collignon said he believes his vast business experience and common sense approach will promote fairness and jurisdictional common sense in the Thurman Town Court. Collignon said he has never been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. Glenda M. Duell, daughter of longtime Warrensburg Supervisor Maynard Baker, is a graduate of Warrensburg High School. She has worked primarily in the real estate market, in the capacities of broker and property owner, she said. Duell previously ran for Thurman Town Justice in 1991. She was defeated by a slim margin, she said. Duell said that over the years, her interests expanded into pro se legal issues that are a significant part of real estate brokerage. I have configured civil matters concerning land contracts, evictions, mechanics liens and satisfaction of judgments, she said. Duell said that her time preparing and filing the associated court documents have given her a great deal of exposure to the municipal legal system. Duell recounted the 2004 civil matter where a municipal court ruled against her. She personally filed a notice of appeal with the state Court of Appeals. The appellate court agreed with her claim against the initial ruling and vacated the lower courts decision, she said. Duell said she finds the legal process fascinating. I am eager to learn more and look forward to the possibility of serving my fellow Thurman citizens, she said. Duell describes herself as trustworthy, responsible, fair-minded and patient. These qualities would allow her to affectively perform the functions of town justice, with the principles of respect and honesty at the forefront she said. According to public court documents, in 1997 Duell was convicted of 102 felonies and 62 misdemeanors in Essex County. The state argued that Duell had knowingly allowed human waste from a broken septic system on property she owned to enter a public stream. The court leveled $68,000 in fines and six months in prison according to court documents. Duell said she only served 45 days and was required to pay only a fraction of the fine. The state is embarrassed by what they did to us, she said. No one will touch it in Albany. For her part, numerous land use rights advocacy groups adopted her cause and created a legal defense fund raising over $150,000, she said. Duell described the states case as a total sham. Montfort stated that Duell is completely within her rights to run, regarding the conviction. Once a convicted felon has served out their sentence in totality, they can get their rights back, Montfort said.

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