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Election 2017: Candidates for Grand Island town justice present campaign announcements

Tue, Aug 8th 2017 07:00 am
Mark Frentzel
As your current town judge for the last 12 years, a practicing attorney on Grand Island for 32 years, and a former police officer, I'm confident in saying I have the proven skill set, capabilities and genuine commitment to serve Grand Island. I am proud of the fact that I hold firm to fairness, integrity and impartiality in all that I do. Additionally, I remain at the forefront of managing growth in our town court's caseload, and in addressing the complexities of ever changing social issues, legal procedures and law.
When I graduated from law school, I chose not to work for a large firm. I preferred to work in a local law practice were I would meet and help people every day. In one sense I've always felt like the "country lawyer." People routinely stop by my office, give me a quick call or see me about the Island to discuss concerns, oftentimes very casual but always critically important to my clients and me. As an attorney, I have helped clients with real estate, wills and estates, domestic abuse, small business issues, property disputes, financial difficulties, family concerns, and drinking and drug problems. As a general practitioner of the law and as a former police officer, I pride myself in having a wide breadth of knowledge; knowledge that is indispensable in the courtroom as your judge.
As a member of our community, I have volunteered my time with the Grand Island Lions Club, the VFW, the Grand Island Soccer Club and the Young Life Golf Committee. My personal engagement with the community makes me acutely aware of what is important to Grand Island residents and contributes greatly to making me a more effective judge.
In keeping with the admirable precedent set by Island judges Francis "Bud" Pritchard, Eric Riemann, Sybil Kennedy and myself, I have never asked the citizens of Grand Island to finance my election campaigns.
Many people, and I mean many people, urge me to hold a fundraiser to raise money. While the concept works for other elected officials, I believe it poses a risk for impropriety as a judicial candidate. When a person or lawyer appears in my court, unlike many judges, I never have to ponder the morality of who gave me money. I never have and never will let politics or corruption into the courtroom.
Your town judge needs to have a wealth of life experiences, common sense, compassion, strength to do the right thing and above all the ability to be fair and impartial. No matter who you are, you cannot acquire these things in a short period of time. There is no online class or YouTube video to give you this knowledge, you have to live and experience it as I have these past 35 years as an attorney and as your judge.
So, I humbly ask for your vote in this year's primary election on Sept. 12 and general election on Nov. 7. Retaining an experienced judge in our court is critically important in this year's judicial election because several veteran court members may be retiring in the near future. Now, more than ever, voters need to retain the wealth of knowledge and fairness that I bring to the bench. Your vote for Mark Frentzel will ensure this happens.
Eric Soehnlein
My name is Eric Soehnlein, and I am running for town justice because I care about our town and its future. Simply put, Grand Island deserves a modern court system in line with our values and on par with the court systems of other towns in our region. I am honored the Democratic, Working Families and Women's Equality parties share my vision and have endorsed me in this election.
Four years ago my wife, Sarah Niland, persuaded me to move to Grand Island -- her family's hometown. I soon fell in love with the warm people and the cozy atmosphere that makes our town so special. Our move has given us close friends, excellent neighbors, and a sense of belonging to a community where people care about and look out for one another. Two years ago, we were blessed with a son, Jack. Because of our positive experience on Grand Island, we intend to raise Jack in this community. One of the happiest consequences of this campaign to date is the opportunity it is giving me to meet so many more wonderful people from our town. If you are reading this and our paths have not yet crossed, I hope to meet you soon.
By way of background, I am a trial lawyer at Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP, where I focus on complex white-collar criminal, regulatory enforcement, and civil litigation. I live in the courtroom. I love my job. And I am passionate about the law and its application. Before I started practicing law, I graduated from Columbia Law School with honors, where I was an editor of an academic journal and a moot court champion. Prior to that, I graduated summa cum laude from the Honors Program at Canisius College, where I was president of several academic honor societies and where I was elected commencement speaker of my graduating class by the faculty.
I am running for town justice to ensure that the Grand Island Town Court develops protocols and takes advantage of programs to address drug addiction and abuse, veterans' issues, domestic violence and mental health. These issues have had (and continue to have) real, demonstrable and adverse consequences for the people of our town. Unfortunately, those consequences are typically borne by young people and those who are most vulnerable. Stated plainly, I will work toward a court system that not only administers just and rational punishment, but that also puts vulnerable people in touch with services that allow for real and lasting change.
We are a community of good friends and caring neighbors. But as great as our town is, it can be better. Our court system should modernize so that we can help those in need and so that we can better address the issues that face our community. The stakes are high, and the consequences of not addressing these issues are severe. We should do better. We can do better. And I believe that together we will do better.
I look forward to exploring these issues throughout the campaign, and I hope I have an opportunity to earn your vote.

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