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Bethlehem board selects justice

Town selects local attorney Michael Katzer to fill vacancy

Michael Katzer is sworn in to office by Town Justice Ryan Donovan Feb. 13, with wife Lita Katzer at his side.

Michael Katzer is sworn in to office by Town Justice Ryan Donovan Feb. 13, with wife Lita Katzer at his side. Photo by Marcy Velte.

— The Bethlehem Town Board has appointed a new town justice to replace Justice Mark Jordan, who died suddenly last month.

At a Town Board meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 13, Michael Katzer was sworn in by Bethlehem Town Justice Ryan Donovan. His wife, Lita Katzer, also attended the ceremony.

“I pledge to all of you and all of the citizens of Bethlehem that I will strive to achieve justice every day, and every day make the work a little bit better place than it was when I took the bench in the morning,” Katzer said.

Katzer has more than 35 years of legal and courtroom experience in the local public and private sectors. He has lived in the Town of Bethlehem for nearly as long. Supervisor John Clarkson said board members were pleased to see his name within the list of applicants and they found him to be “extremely qualified.”

The town’s former Town Justice Mark Jordan, 50, died suddenly in January after suffering from a brain aneurysm. Jordan, who served half of a term as a member of the Bethlehem Town Board before running for justice in 2011, was a lawyer with a law practice in Delmar.

Clarkson and other members of the board previously expressed they would like whomever was appointed to the position to not run in a November special election to fill the remainder of the term. The thought was by appointing someone who would opt not to run, Bethlehem’s residents would maintain their right to elect whoever they saw fit for the position, without any candidates having a perceived advantage.

On Wednesday night, however, board members said the matter had “evolved” and there is no agreement between the board and Katzer on whether he will run or not.

“We interviewed so many qualified individuals, that it just became clear to me during the process that … the most important thing is finding the best possible person to fill this position to serve the town. And I think that’s what we’ve done,” Councilman Jeffrey Kuhn said.

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