Endorsed Candidates for Judicial Delegates & Alternates*

On the June 28th Primary, voters can vote for 15 delegates and 15 Alternates.


Below is the list of HK Dems members endorsed by the Club.  We also endorsed 15 candidates for our partners at the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club.

HK Dems and Chelsea Reform Democratic Club (CRDC) are working together to support local neighborhood activists – many first-time candidates – for the position of Judicial Delegate or Alternate to the Nominating Convention in August. Please show your support for this list of HK Dems members who have been endorsed by the club and thank them for their willingness to step up to run for office.

And remember to vote for them in the primary election on June 28!

JUDICIAL DELEGATE CANDIDATES

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Aleta LaFargue

SINGLE MOM - TENANTS ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT

A life-long resident of Hell’s Kitchen, Aleta has been serving her community since she was a child working beside her mother as a volunteer during the AIDS crisis. She became politically active in her teen years, campaigning for local and presidential candidates, as well as working with NARAL as a lobbyist for a woman’s right to choose. She marched on Washington against the Gulf War. Beyond our shores, her community service extended to the mountains of Costa Rica, where she traveled with other volunteers to help rebuild septic systems assist after the devastation of hurricane Cesar. She returned to community service in 2016, initially as Secretary of the Manhattan Plaza Tenants Association. The following year she put a slate together and was elected President. In December of 2017 she and her team were re-elected to serve the 3500 tenant body once again. Raising her eight- year-old son, and serving her vibrant community are the joy and passion of her life.

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Leslie Boghosian Murphy

INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST - COMMUNITY ADVOCATE - HK DEMS VP

Leslie Boghosian Murphy is a long-time Hell’s Kitchen resident serving on the Executive Boards of Hell’s Kitchen Democrats, Community Board 4 and as a member of her Block Association working for the betterment of our neighborhoods. Her journalism background helped form her commitment to what is true and just while her experience as a mother and hands-on community worker gives her a real-time understanding of the needs of our community. Boghosian Murphy has dedicated her time working at our local woman’s shelter and with minors in jail. Collectively, these traits give her a compassionate understanding of the judicial system and important attributes of an excellent judicial delegate.

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Christine Gorman

SCIENCE WRITER - BLOCK ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT

Christine’s background is in science—specifically biology and medicine. Her career as a journalist for Time Magazine and Scientific American was not a natural launching pad for political activism.  But after thirty years of volunteering for various community programs—including AIDS outreach, homelessness and, more recently, resettling refugees in the U.S., she has come to believe that community outreach is where she can truly make a difference in the lives of others. As the longtime president of the West 55th Street Block Association, she inaugurated a $500 travel grant for local high school juniors, most of whom live below the poverty line, which allows them to broaden their horizons before they apply to schools by visiting colleges and universities outside the New York City limits.  Disenchanted with how often political power brokers seem more interested in protecting their own power than in working for the common good, she started getting more involved in local politics, and was recently elected as the President of Hell’s Kitchen Democrats. By running for judicial delegate, Christine hopes to bring more accountability and transparency to the process of selecting judges for the New York State Supreme Court.

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Deborah (Debo) Gaffaney

GRAPHIC DESIGNER - ILLUSTRATOR - FOOD PANTRY VOLUNTEER

Debo has worked for some of publishing’s most prestigious titles, including as Associate Art Director for Condé Nast Traveler and a senior designer for The New Yorker. She uses her digital and print media skills in organizing to assist many campaigns and non-profit organizations such as when she was a volunteer on Obama campaigns in NYC and Ohio.  As a team leader in the 2012 presidential election, she was a New York State delegate to the Democratic National Convention. She then served as a captain and volunteer trainer for canvasses for Hillary for America in Philadelphia and the Keep PA Blue Coalition in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania.  Currently, she volunteers with the Sylvia Rivera Food Pantry, HK Litter Legion, 47th Street Block Association and HK DEMS.  Debo has been a judicial delegate for the past 3 years and considers it a great honor to meet the judicial nominees for the New York State Supreme Court. In tumultuous times it is very rewarding and humbling to be able to consider the many qualified choices for the bench!

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Jasper McGruder

THEATRE ARTIST - VETERAN

Jasper grew up in upstate NY, is one of 14 siblings and has lived a full and varied life. It is the breadth of his life experience from being a veteran of the Vietnam War to performing as an actor and director around the world from Edinburgh to Rome to Cairo that makes him such a unique choice for judicial delegate. He is able to see the big picture. Some U.S. theatre credits include Yale Rep, Arkansas Rep, the Kennedy Center and right here in NYC with the Wooster Group and at Carnegie Hall where he was part of an event honoring African American men on Broadway. Jasper raises the bar when it comes to volunteering for his community. He answers the Call! He has been on the Democratic County Committee and is a current judicial delegate. He wants to continue the work of selecting judges that are fair-minded, balanced and respect the Constitution. He will be grateful for your support and vote!

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Laura B. McGill

WORKING MOM - AFFORDABLE HOUSING ACTIVIST

Although originally from Ohio, Laura has lived in Hell’s Kitchen for almost 40 yrs. She raised both of her daughters in the neighborhood, going to school at Midtown West. In addition to raising her daughters perhaps her greatest accomplishment is serving on The Board of the HDFC, where she continually fights to retain affordable housing for residents.  Laura believes that if you want to see change, you have to make that happen and get involved. She has proactively served as an UBER volunteer for HK Dems, Clinton Community Garden and on numerous campaigns to elect Democrats.  As a current Judicial Delegate, she would like to continue to serve in electing Judges who are fair, balanced and work for all of the people.

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Robert W. Firth

PERFORMER - DRAG QUEEN - COMMUNITY ACTIVIST

Robert is better known to the world as Ruby Rims. One of New York’s oldest Drag Queen’s he has been performing for over 48 years. He has been seen in clubs all over the country as well as Canada and Bermuda and Paris !  He appeared on The Phil Donahue Show several times as well as The Geraldo Rivera Show and P.M Magazine. He was in an Adidas Commercial for the New York Yankees. In 2018 he received the M.A.C. (Manhattan Association of Cabarets) Lifetime Achievement Award. He can also be seen as a weekly volunteer at the Food Pantry in Hell’s Kitchen. He lives in Manhattan Plaza with his cat LaMott and this year he will be a 30 year AIDS Survivor!  Robert’s early days began in Newark NJ. and at the age of 18 he ran for Democratic District Leader but his opposition took the low road and told everyone that he was a “Queer” and he lost the election by 10 votes so after 50 years this is his redemption!  Robert believes there should be more diversity in the court system and as a delegate his aim is to make that happen.  He is proud to be running with a slate of very diverse candidates from the community.

ALTERNATES

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Adrienne Ford

TV PRODUCER - BOXING CHAMPION - MOM 

Adrienne is a life- long resident of Hell’s Kitchen. She exemplifies "a New Yorker" as a National Golden Gloves champion. With her fighter’s mentality, she has marched on Washington at the Million Woman March and the Women's March. She has also advocated with empathy as a counselor for the Mount Sinai Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Program. Adrienne dual-majored in Urban Affairs & Planning and Sociology but found her niche in Sports Television with a notable 2018 Emmy Award win. She has served her community since 2017 as Vice President of the Manhattan Plaza Tenants Association and as the mother of twin boys, is also a member of the Parents Association at Avenues: The World School.

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Edward Tolliver

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT FOR CORPORATE ESTEE LAUDER - COMMUNITY ACTIVIST

New to HK DEMS this year, Edward is ready to do more for his community. Growing up in a small rural town in West Virginia, is where he found his passion for giving back to the community. He is from a middle-class family. His father was the VP of the Mail Handlers Union and his mother a long time UAW Union member. His parents instilled in him the life- long mantra of helping anyone in need. His activism roots began as the president of the Rotary Club, and then he initiated multiple community clean ups along with food and coat drives. After receiving his Journalism degree from West Virginia University, he made the move to NYC. In his 15 years in the neighborhood, he has furthered his commitment to volunteer with food drives and community clean-ups. Additionally, he is now able to make multiple financial donations to groups supporting these efforts. He is currently on the Executive Board as a Member at Large of HK DEMS.

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Elizabeth Young

EDITOR - EDUCATOR - VOLUNTEER TREE STEWARD

Elizabeth is the child of a schoolteacher-union rep and neighborhood organizer. Professional experiences: managing editor of a peer-reviewed journal, president of a volunteer business association, teacher of continuing ed for The Brooklyn Public Library, and a Pace University Adjunct Assistant Professor teaching management principles. She currently serves as a NYC Parks tree steward to encourage urban-scale cooling strategies and address Hell’s Kitchen’s high heat vulnerability index score. She also cultivates ideas to increase tourism volume, proposing a Hell’s Kitchen Heritage and Tourism Center to support new historic districts, and by embracing an effort to return live, local guides to tour buses. She was a volunteer gardener for the HK Rooftop Farm to help address food insecurity and foster hyperlocal food sources. Elizabeth also supports changes for improved air quality and believes that beautification is a catalyst to improve the district’s mental health, business, and air environments, maintain property values, and support tourist attractions.

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Barbara Knecht

ADVOCATE FOR URBAN FARMING - ARCHTECT: Strategies for Cities

Barbara is committed to making our built and social environments work for everyone.  Ms. Knecht holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Berkeley, a Master of Architecture from Columbia University, and a Loeb Fellowship from Harvard University.  In the 1980‘s Barbara worked for the City of New York managing the development and design of several thousand units of housing and public space.  In the 1990‘s, she continued that work in the not-for-profit sector, adding research, evaluation and training projects.    Subsequently she was the co-director of IHP Cities in the 21st Century, a multi-disciplinary program for university students studying “people, planning and politics” in four cities across the world.  Since 2012, Ms. Knecht has been developing urban farms.  Many years of immersion in understanding people, governance and systems has ignited her interest in the judicial selection process. 

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Heather Tru Lavalle

EDUCATOR - ACTIVIST - ALLY

After serving in the Peace Corps, Heather devoted her 30-year career as an educator to advocating for the interests of K-12 youth of color and LGBT+ youth & adults. One highlight during that time was creating the first Transgender Youth Conference for mental health specialists in the United States. Another related focus of her work was implementing the NYC Transgender Guidelines which oversaw protocols affecting transgender youth and adults in all domains, including facilities. Heather also established the Young Senecas Alliance, a feminist collective for high school girls.  Activism began for Heather 50 years ago, having volunteered for every presidential campaign including in Pennsylvania for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Locally, Heather as a 34-year HK resident has been an active member of two major Hells Kitchen Democratic clubs and is currently the Director of Membership and Outreach of HK Dems. Under her leadership membership has increased by 30.1%.  She has participated in the judicial selection process and was a judicial alternate in 2021.  Heather is committed to vigorous allyship, diversity and advocating progressive policies of our judicial nominees.

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Cat Lafferty

MEDIA PROFESSIONAL - COMMUNITY GARDENER

Catherine ("Cat") has been a resident of Hell's Kitchen for over twenty-two years, and initially moved to the neighborhood from Brooklyn because it was a short commute to her job in international marketing at Island-Def Jam Music Group.  Cat is an avid community organizer and gardener, and has served on the Steering Committee of the Clinton Community Garden for the past four years. As one of the gardeners in Hell's Kitchen Park, she has twice secured grant money for activities to involve kids in community conservation/planting projects. Cat pioneered the median-planting initiatives along 9th Avenue in Hell's Kitchen, and worked tirelessly in disused flower beds in the West Village. She has engaged and organized hundreds of neighborhood volunteers in her weekly efforts.

Cat studied international relations and French as an undergraduate at American University in Washington. D.C., focusing on East/West diplomacy during the Cold War and on international development. As a graduate student in applied cultural anthropology at American University, Cat helped found the Lavender Languages and Linguistics conference and was the faculty advisor for the Polyester Liberation Organization, an LGBTQ+ fashion performance group, which coincided with her gender advocacy work (in the early 1990s). Cat is a media professional who worked alongside some of the (female) pioneers of kids' TV. She has been politically active and concerned with issues of social justice since her childhood in the Chicago area. She currently sits on the board of HK DEMS.

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Beverly Bullock

THEATRE ARTIST - ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVIST

A long- time resident of Hell’s Kitchen, Beverly has worked as an actor, director and professional costume designer. Since 2004 she has been the Artistic Director of ShakespeareNYC. Many of the company’s classical productions have been performed right in this neighborhood on Theatre Row. Beverly also has the distinction of being a German translator and once upon a time translated an opera for the Viennese publisher, Doblinger Verlag.  An avid Fan of all animals, but cats in particular, Beverly is a supporter of PETA and is especially committed to organizations who are defending civil liberties such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood.

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Richard Marans

ATTORNEY - BLOCK ASSOCIATION FOUNDER

Richard is a long-time resident of West 48th Street and has raised two daughters here. He is one of the original founders of the West 47/48th Street Block Association of which he is an active member. One of his current projects is working with City agencies and residents to abate the rat infestation plaguing our neighborhood. He is a real estate attorney specializing in transactional and condominium law. He recently got a dog and has enjoyed becoming even more involved in HK by getting to know lots of neighborhood dogs and their owners.

 

*Judicial Delegates Explained


Supreme Court Justices

New York State has many different trial courts, most of which hear a specific type of case: civil court, criminal court, family court, housing court, etc.  However, the trial court of “general jurisdiction” — the court that can hear any type of case and also the most important trial court in New York State — is called Supreme Court.  In most states, and in the Federal system, the Supreme Court is the highest appeals court; not so in New York, where the highest appeals court is called the Court of Appeals.
 

Judges of New York’s many different courts get selected or elected in many different ways.  Supreme Court Justices are elected on Election Day in November.  To qualify for the ballot, individuals become the Democratic nominee for a Supreme Court seat by an endorsement vote of Judicial Delegates at the County’s Judicial Nominating Convention.  (Similar to the way a Democratic Presidential candidate is nominated for the November ballot.)    
 

To become a Judicial Delegate to the convention one must be elected to represent their district.

Judicial Delegates

Judicial Delegates are elected at the Democratic Primary on the regular primary day, which takes place in June — the same election as any other primary for local, city, state, or federal office.  Voters can pick judicial delegates among individuals who have gathered enough petition signatures to appear on the ballot.  As the petitioning process is challenging, and the position is unpaid and temporary, most candidates for Judicial Delegate come from Democratic Clubs, which traditionally petition for candidates up-and-down the ballot, and can easily add candidates for Judicial Delegate to their petitions.
 

Each Assembly District elects a certain number of Judicial Delegates using a formula based on turnout in the previous Governor’s race.  In the 75th Assembly District we currently have 15 Judicial Delegate voting seats at the convention. 
 

Alternate Judicial Delegates

The same number of Alternate Judicial Delegates are elected as Delegates in case Judicial Delegates cannot perform their duties.  Alternates run simultaneously as Delegates so as to ensure all voting seats are filled from the Assembly District at the convention in August.
 

Alternates are treated the same as Delegates throughout the club endorsement, petitioning, and election process in order to be equally qualified to be seated to vote at the convention when needed to replace a Delegate.
 

Judicial Nominating Convention

Delegates are seated at the County Judicial Nominating Convention by Assembly District to select Democratic nominees for Supreme Court.  The Convention usually takes place in early August.  For each open Supreme Court seat, the candidate who receives the most votes from the Judicial Delegates becomes the Democratic nominee and appears on the ballot in November.

In Manhattan, since the Democratic vote is so strong, the Democratic nominee for Supreme Court typically wins the election to a seat to the Supreme Court.
 

The process of gaining the support of Judicial Delegates is highly political. Candidates will often network with Judicial Delegates and other politically involved community members to try to garner support in advance of the Convention. In fact, it is common for candidates to know in advance of the convention whether or not they enough support to win an endorsement. Candidates who are confident they don’t have enough support will often decline nominations from the floor of the Convention, and potentially only one candidate might accept for a given seat.
 

Club Involvement

Clubs can select their own slate of candidates for Delegates (and Alternates) to fill all seats at the convention from the Assembly District.  If all Clubs within an Assembly District each endorse their own slates, there would be a large number of candidates on the ballot competing against each other.  Clubs can also cooperate with each other to endorse a shared slate of Judicial Delegates, in which case after petitioning together Delegates/Alternates might run unopposed without need to appear on the ballots.


In the 75th Assembly District there are two active local clubs:  Hell’s Kitchen Democrats (HK Dems) and Chelsea Reform Democratic Club (CRDC).  The Democratic Party also recognizes “Citywide” clubs that also have members within the 75th Assembly District.


HK Dems and CRDC have agreed to work together to support a joint slate of candidates for both Delegates and Alternates. The 75th Assembly District has 15 voting seats at the convention which means we need to elect 15 Delegates and 15 Alternates for a total of 30 individuals running in the Democratic Primary.  HK Dems and CRDC share the slate by endorsing 15 people from each club to combine to fill all 30 slots.


HK Dems endorses candidates for Judicial Delegates and Alternates every year there is an open Supreme Court seat, which is almost every year.  Because petitioning for Judicial Delegates (and all other primary races) begins in late February, the endorsement is usually held at the February monthly meeting or relegated to the Executive Committee per the constitution.

Clubs also play an integral role in coordinating efforts between Delegates and judicial candidates to assist educating Delegates.  This can come in the form of sponsored forums or arranging individual meetings with candidates.

Other Information

In Manhattan, judges go through an Independent Screening Panel to determine whether a judge is qualified for the seat. If a candidate has been deemed qualified by the panel for two years in a row, they do not need to go through the panel process for the subsequent five years.  In Manhattan, only those “qualified” judges will be selected at the Convention.
 

Judicial Delegates and Alternates get to know the candidates seeking to become a Democratic nominee for Supreme Court in advance of the Convention.  This is done through a variety of methods such as candidate forums, receptions, individual meetings, or local political/social functions. 
 

Supreme Court justices appear on the ballot just like any other elected office, and whichever candidate gets the most votes gets the seat, just like any other elected office.  However, in Manhattan — where Democrats almost always win — the race for Supreme Court Justice is often uncontested.  As a result, the convention where one becomes the Democratic nominee for a Supreme Court Justice is actually the most significant part of the process.
 

If you are interested in learning more about judicial selection methods in New York State, the New York City Bar Association created an excellent guide, which is available here.