It’s our choice: vote for the first woman to the NY Supreme Court

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By Kelsey Mulvihill

With several important landmarks for women seen in contemporary politics, such as Nancy Pelosi’s position as Speaker of the House and the legitimacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign for the presidential nomination by the Democrats in 2008, it is pretty unbelievable that there has never been a woman seated on the New York State Supreme Court bench in the Fourth Judicial District.

This hits particularly close to home as Union College falls within the boundaries of the 4th Judicial District, which encompasses Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington counties.

I first learned about this female void in the 4th Judicial District last spring term when Ann Crowell, a candidate for New York State Supreme Court Justice in New York’s 4th Judicial District, spoke at an event put on by the brothers of Sigma Phi. Crowell’s husband, Steven Shultz, is a Union College alumnus and member of Sigma Phi who has remained extremely involved with the college and his fraternity.

Crowell, who is a “Sig Sister” at Union, came to campus last May to talk about her experience as a female in the legal profession and the importance of the past several years leading up to her campaign for the Nov. 2011 state judicial election.

In addition to the prospect of Ann making history as the first woman elected to serve on the Supreme Court in this district, as a political science major, I was interested in helping with her campaign efforts and using firsthand research obtained along the campaign trail for my thesis, which will examine the role of gender in elections in the United States.

I am the second Union College student to have had the opportunity to do an internship with Crowell and she has been an extraordinary role model with more than 30 years of experience serving and working in the legal and business sectors.

From my experience working on Crowell’s campaign, I have learned that judicial campaigns are nonpartisan elections and are typically low-information contests for voters.

With that said, I would like to take this opportunity to inform Union’s campus community about Crowell’s candidacy and to encourage current students, faculty, and staff to register to vote and make informed decisions in the upcoming Nov. 8 election.

Crowell presently serves as Confidential Law Clerk to the Honorable Stephen A. Ferradino, Justice of the New York State Supreme Court.  In this capacity, Crowell has spent eight years as Judge Ferradino’s principal law clerk, researching issues, writing legal opinions and proposed decisions, managing a trial calendar, and engaging in daily contact with attorneys and the public.

Throughout her legal career, as a Law Clerk in the Schenectady County Public Defender’s Office and as a private practice trial attorney, Crowell has earned a well-deserved reputation for fairness, integrity and commitment to justice.

In addition to her professional responsibilities, Crowell has been a committed and long-time volunteer for her hometown community.

She is a board member of both the Capital District Women’s Bar Association and the Adirondack Women’s Bar Association, previously served as President of the Saratoga County Bar Association, and is an active member of the League of Women Voters.

Additionally, Crowell is a volunteer and fundraiser for Saratoga Community Hospice and a graduate of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Saratoga Program and the New York State Governor’s Leadership Program.

Crowell’s dedication to public service began nearly three decades ago and continues to this day. I hope that the Union College campus community will register to vote in the upcoming November election (which could be the first time for many Union students) and that members of our campus will be informed voters when selecting representatives that will ultimately be implementing legislation and making decisions affecting our campus and the greater Schenectady County community.

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