Buffalo City Court's newest judge, a prosecutor active in stopping the city's graffiti vandals and a private attorney are all seeking the only 10-year, $113,900-a-year seat open on that court.
City Judge Craig Dexter Hannah has the Democratic and Working Families lines. Thomas D. Kubiniec, an assistant Erie County district attorney, is running on the Conservative Party line, and attorney Christopher M. Duggan is the Republican Party candidate.
Though Hannah, 36, has the purported edge in the heavily Democratic city, supporters say he is continuing to meet with city groups to build support while following long-standing state guidelines on the behavior of judges and judicial candidates.
Appointed to the bench in January by Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, his former boss in the State Senate, Hannah has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO, the Buffalo Teachers Federation, the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association, Buffalo Professional Firefighters Local 282 and more than a dozen other organizations.
Hannah was recently honored as a Black Achiever in Industry by 1490 Enterprises, the social organization founded by legendary Black Buffalo businessman, politician and civic leader Herbert L. Bellamy Sr.
One of the Buffalo corporation counsel's top litigators during his five years in the city Law Department, Hannah, in addition to the standard criminal caseload in the busy court, is handling several Housing Court cases from which Housing Court Judge Henry Nowak recused himself.
A University at Buffalo graduate active in the city's Grassroots political organization with Brown before he took his court seat, Hannah is also a former administrative law judge for the Buffalo Parking Violations Bureau.
Formerly an adjunct professor at Medaille College, Hannah is a board member of the city's Ujima Theater Company and the Community Action Organization of Western New York.
Kubiniec, 39, who captured the Conservative Party line in the September primaries, is on unpaid leave from the Erie County district attorney's office.
A former colleague of Hannah in the district attorney's office, Kubiniec is the son of the late State Supreme Court Justice Julian F. Kubiniec and Eleanor Kubiniec, also a former assistant Erie County district attorney still active as a private attorney in the city.
A graduate of Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich., Kubiniec was instrumental in developing the district attorney's Alternative to Prison program for nonviolent cases.
Kubiniec also headed the DA's now-closed Community Prosecution Unit and has been a major prosecutor of some of the city's more notorious and financially damaging graffiti vandals.
A former domestic violence prosecutor, Kubiniec has also prosecuted drug cases in the county's municipal courts.
Hannah and Kubiniec are both graduates of Canisius College, Hannah in 1992 and Kubiniec in 1990. Hannah earned his law degree at the University at Buffalo in 1995.
Duggan, 32, the Republican-endorsed candidate, was born and raised in Hamburg and is a 1996 graduate of the University at Buffalo. He earned both his law degree and a master of studies in environmental law at Vermont Law School in 2000.
He is a trial and appellate lawyer with Buffalo's Cohen & Lombardo law firm. His wife, Tami, will give birth in April to the couple's first child.
The Bar Association of Erie County has rated Hannah well qualified and given its qualified rating to both Kubiniec and Duggan.
The WNY Chapter of the Women's Bar Association of the State of New York has rated both Hannah and Kubiniec well qualified and rated Duggan qualified.
The Minority Bar Association of Western New York has given Hannah its highest rating of superior, Kubiniec its well-qualified rating and Duggan its qualified but limited by experience rating.