Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

September 7, 2013

Justice race is on

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — There will be a new judge in the Town of Lockport.

Republican Cheryl A. Antkowiak will face off against Democrat John J. Ben on three party lines in Tuesday’s primary. Those lines are the GOP, Democratic and Working Families. Antkowiak is the endorsed Republican candidate.

Ben and Antkowiak will seek to replace Judge Raymond E. Schilling, who will retire at the end of the year.

Antkowiak is on the Lockport Town Board, serving as a councilwoman since 2006. Involved with the town’s recreation committee since 1989, Antkowiak is currently the board’s current liaison with the committee. 

While she has enjoyed her time on the board, Antkowiak said she has always wanted to return to working in the town court. She previously worked there under Justice Wesley F. Arnold for over six years.

“My heart has always been in the court,” Antkowiak said. “It would be such an honor.”

A part-time hair dresser, Antkowiak said if elected she would leave her other part-time job as a clerk at the Niagara County Board of Elections, as it would be a conflict of interest.

And while she wouldn’t be a member of the Town Board or on the recreation committee, Antkowiak said she would still be involved with community events, something she said she enjoys.

“I always want to help,” she said.

Ben was asked to run when retired state trooper William Fish withdrew from the race in July. He previously ran for town justice in 2001.

“I was asked to serve and I welcomed the opportunity,” Ben said.

Ben works for Holland Land Title & Abstract Co. in Lockport. He has a law degree from Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, Calif. and was admitted to the California bar in 1981.

But while he has never practiced law, Ben has legal experience from working in the real estate title abstract field.

It requires an extensive knowledge in real property and state law.

“Basically, I have the experience and knowledge to carry out the job,” Ben said.

A lifelong county resident, Ben is also active in the community.

He is a member of the Knights of Columbus No. 319, St. John the Baptist Church and serves in the Patriot Guard Riders of New York.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.

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