To the editor:
In just a few weeks, Bronxites will head to the polls to choose the Democratic nominees for every citywide office, including mayor, comptroller and city council members. The outcome of this election will determine the future of our borough and city for years to come.
Also on the ballot will be judicial representation for the Bronx for the next 10 years.
This year, two civil court judgeships are up for election in the Bronx’s Second Municipal Court District, covering most of the west Bronx including Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Norwood, Fordham Heights, West Bronx, Morrisania and Mott Haven.
Voters elect civil court judges to 10-year terms, and the June 22 Democratic primary will likely decide these positions. In a heavily Democratic borough, winning the primary essentially guarantees the nominees a win in the general election.
Local judiciaries are vital to an effective, fair and impartial justice system, and voters play a direct role in the judicial selection process. While civil court judges undertake significant responsibilities — handling consumer debt, small claims, and a range of landlord-tenant matters under the umbrella of the housing court, these races rarely attract media coverage or the engaged electorates of larger elected offices.
Unlike candidates who run on the policy positions they intend to take when in office, judicial candidates cannot speak to how they might rule in any matter. Voters have very few avenues to learn about the qualifications of judicial candidates that appear on their ballot, and it often falls on the candidates to convince voters about why they should serve.
Local media can also play an important role by shedding light on these critical races through rigorous coverage.
As candidates running for judicial seats on the Bronx Civil Court, we are working to bridge this gap. We have been out in the communities, talking to neighbors, connecting neighborhoods to relief, and engaging residents in the democratic process. Informed voting and empowered electorates are necessary to building a better justice system and a stronger and more inclusive democracy.
We are running because we believe judges should understand the communities they serve and the far-ranging impact their decisions can have on the lives of all those that come in contact with the justice system.
As judges, we will work to build a judicial system that centers people in the work of justice. We each have legal experience representing people of all backgrounds. We have a deep understanding of the court system, and have diverse trial experience handling a wide range of case types. We understand the challenges our residents face in accessing the justice system because these are our own lived experiences as well as the experiences of so many we have encountered through our work.
These are the guiding principles that have inspired us to run, and why we will dedicate ourselves to ensuring every litigant is heard in the courtroom, and applying the law fairly without prejudice.
Whether it’s providing legal assistance to families and children, or working to make the justice system and the legal profession more inclusive of those who traditionally lack access, we have seen the difference our work can make.
This election will determine who will make the decisions that will shape the lives of people in our communities. We encourage all our fellow Bronxites to get engaged in the work of democracy, learn about the local justice system, and ensure that our elected judges share your values.
The first step is making your voice heard at the ballot box.
Primary election day is Tuesday, June 22. To learn more, visit ElectJessicaFlores.com and JohnRodriguez2021.com.
The authors are candidates for civil court judge in the Bronx’s Second Municipal Court District.