If you talk to judges who have worked at the local level, many will tell you that Family Court can be the most challenging court to serve on because the cases often involve complex, emotional issues like divorce, child custody, child support, and domestic violence. And, some of them say, there are few courtrooms where diversity on the bench matters more.
Attorneys Zuleika Shepard and Fatimat Reid, both Democrats, announced on Monday that they're running for two open judgeships on Monroe County Family Court, and if they're elected, they'll be the first African-American women to serve on that court. It's been more than 30 years since a candidate of color was elected to any Monroe County judgeship, according to the Monroe County Democratic Committee.
Shepard is a trial attorney and currently works as a deputy county attorney in the Monroe County Law Department, where she handles mostly paternity and child support cases in Family Court. Previously, as an assistant district attorney, she prosecuted hundreds of domestic violence cases.
Reid, who is currently chief of staff for the Rochester City School District, was associate counsel in the district's law department. She also served as a municipal attorney for the City of Rochester, where she oversaw the city's contracts and litigation.
Republicans have chosen Nicole Bayly and Alecia Mazzo to run for Family Court. Bayly has been a Wheatland Town Justice for four years, and previously served as principal law clerk to Family Court Justice James Walsh Jr.
Mazzo has been a county attorney in the Monroe County Law Department for 18 years and has handled numerous family-law cases, including those involving child abuse and neglect.
Monroe County Family Court race | Zuleika Shepard | Fatimat Reid | Monroe County Democratic Committee | Monroe County Republican Committee | Monroe County judicial candidates