Kathleen Wojtaszek-Gariano of Niagara Falls, citing her experience in family law and service in Family Court, has announced her candidacy for the Niagara County Family Court seat being vacated by retiring Judge David Seaman.
A graduate of North Tonawanda High School, the University at Buffalo and the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Wojtaszek-Gariano has more than 16 years of experience in family law, including the last nine serving as family court attorney (law clerk) for Seaman. Prior to her time with Seaman, Wojtaszek-Gariano served as a Niagara Falls City Court judge and was appointed acting family court judge after the death of Judge Paul Crapsi.
"For the last nine years, I've had the honor of working for Judge Seaman as his law clerk. During that time, I've witnessed firsthand how his firm, fair and compassionate approach has had a lasting effect on families and brought positive results," said Wojtaszek-Gariano. "I'm running for Family Court because I have the courtroom experience and passion to continue making a difference for Niagara County families."
Wojtaszek-Gariano said she has always had a passion for family law and children's rights. After being admitted to the state bar in 1994, she began her private practice focusing on matrimonial and family law. From 1999-2001, she served as assistant county attorney, specializing in prosecuting persons in need of supervision and juvenile delinquents in Family Court. She also served on the law guardian panel from 1994-2001, representing children in custody and neglect/abuse cases.
Because of her experience in family law, Wojtaszek-Gariano was appointed by 8th Judicial District Administrative Judge Vincent Doyle in October of 2001 to serve as acting Family Court judge while a replacement was sought for Crapsi. Ultimately, former Gov. George Pataki appointed Seaman for the bench and Wojtaszek-Gariano accepted the position as his court attorney/law clerk.
Niagara County Family Court handles most cases in Niagara County involving families and children. These types of cases include orders of protection/domestic violence; child custody and visitation; child and spousal support; adoption; paternity; child neglect and abuse; juvenile delinquency; termination of parental rights; and review of foster care placement.
"One of my most rewarding experiences was when someone recognized me as the judge who did their child's adoption and they introduced me to the child they adopted in my court," said Wojtaszek-Gariano. "I can't think of a more rewarding moment for a judge than watching the joy of a family as they finalize the adoption of their child."
"At times, Family Court can be an unhappy place. But instead of being strictly punitive, a good family court judge can often change lives by offering guidance or protection before it is too late. In Family Court, we have the ability to give a second chance to those who may have made mistakes with their lives. I have the experience to make a difference for families in Niagara County and that's why I am running for Family Court judge," concluded Wojtaszek-Gariano.
Wojtaszek-Gariano lives in Niagara Falls with her husband, Tom Gariano, and has three children: Rob (married to Nicole), Francesca and David; and one grandchild, Brooklyn.