The American experiment in republican government has always depended on an informed and engaged citizenry.  “Wisdom and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people,” John Adams wrote in the 1780 Massachusetts constitution, were “necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties.”

Each year, as Election Day draws near, citizens scrutinize candidates who wish to serve as elected officials, gaining the knowledge to make wise choices.

On Wednesday, October 8, at the Jewish Community Center in Utica, NY, the League of Women Voters of Utica/Rome hosted a debate of the three candidates running for Oneida County Family Court judge.  Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI) Charter Fellow Douglas Ambrose served as one of the two moderators of the debate.  Michael Green, who teaches at Mohawk Valley Community College, served as the other moderator.

Photos Copyright 2014 Tom Loughlin Jr, Utica, N.Y.

Three candidates, Democrat Dawn Catera Lupi, Republican Julia Brouillette, and Independence Party candidate Karen Stanislaus, are vying for a newly created Family Court judgeship.  The volume of cases handled by Oneida County Family Court has become so large that an additional position was created to help deal with the caseload.  The debate allowed attendants to hear each candidate share her ideas about the cultural, economic, and social factors that have contributed to this steep rise in Family Court cases.  The candidates also discussed their professional and personal qualifications for the job, which carries a ten-year term.  After Ambrose and Greene questioned the panel for 45 minutes, individual audience members questioned the candidates for 30 additional minutes.  Ambrose and his wife, AHI Fellow Sheila O’Connor-Ambrose, brought two of their children, Augusta, age 12, and Dominic, age 10, to the debate so that they could see and appreciate how citizens in a republic become informed voters.