Judicial Independence and How to Beat the Queens Democratic Machine

Elect Stephen Weiner to be Queens County Surrogate’s Court Judge

By Kathryn Donnelly

Stephen Weiner, Republican candidate for Queens County Surrogate’s Judge

Meritocracy, not political-machine mediocrity, should dictate how a judge is chosen.   For decades, the Queens County Surrogate’s Court and its connected Office of Public Administration has been reputed to be a political plum that rewards friends of the Queens Democrat organization –one which that organization will fight for fiercely.  Due to this sad reality, in living memory no Republican has attempted to run for the position of Queens County Surrogate’s Judge.

One candidate, Stephen Weiner, is trying something different this year – running on merit. Although meritocracy has become a forgotten word in this City, allowing the machine to triumph over legal ability, intelligence, character and integrity, hurts us all. Nowhere is this truer than in the Surrogate’s Court, which includes overseeing guardianships and estates large and small.  Without an independent judiciary, the weak, the poor and the vulnerable are most at risk.

Stephen Weiner is a lifelong New Yorker, and a Sunnyside Queens resident since 1982, whose intelligence and compassion for others shone from an early age. He was selected to attend the prestigious Bronx High School of Science, one of the most famous schools in America, based on high scores on the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test. While at Bronx Science, he was the debating champion of the Northeastern region in extemporaneous speaking, earning him a trip to the nation’s capital. After graduating, Stephen was accepted to and attended Yale College on a partial scholarship, where he graduated cum laude, earning his degree in 1981. From Yale, Stephen continued to excel, by entering Columbia Law School. Stephen earned his way on Columbia’s coveted law review. During law school, Stephen also volunteered for the Harlem Division of the Legal Aid Society.  After working for some top law firms, like Schulte Roth & Zabel and Cahill Gordon & Reindel, Stephen gained the confidence to launch his own practice in 1993. Beginning in 1997, the Surrogate Court Judge in Queens, at the time, the Honorable Robert Nahman, appointed Stephen as a guardian ad litem in estate cases. Stephen has gained the trust of other judges, routinely being appointed to matters as Court Examiner in guardianship cases.  For many years Stephen’s law practice has been exclusively focused on Wills, Trusts, Probate, Administration, Estate Litigation and Guardianships.

When he married his wife, Betty-Ann, Stephen stepped into the role of being a father to Betty-Ann’s son with special needs, Adam.  Adam is an adult and still lives with Stephen and Betty-Ann in their Sunnyside home. While most parents of special needs adults send them to group homes or other residential facilities, Stephen is happy to have Adam at home, where Adam wants to be. Stephen will approach all cases involving incapacitated or developmentally challenged persons with unparalleled compassion and insight. 

Stephen is an observant Jew, who has received an exceptional award for his Presidency at his local synagogue, the Young Israel of Sunnyside: the Centennial Shofar Award. In 2001, after his law office, which was next door to the World Trade Center, experienced heavy damage during the 9/11 attacks on America, Stephen dedicated himself to reviving the Young Israel of Sunnyside.

While Stephen was born into a family of Democrats, during his years at Yale, he met thoughtful professors and role models. It was then that Stephen became a member of Yale Students for Reagan and a member of the newly-founded Federalist Society. But it was during the 1993 campaign that elected Rudy Giuliani Mayor that Stephen became a Republican, and subsequently, the Queens Republican Commissioner of Elections from 1997 until 2004. Though involved in politics as a volunteer for years, Stephen never dreamed of running for office until Peter Kelly, the former Surrogate, announced his retirement.   He is running on the Republican Party and Conservative Party lines and with support of the Common Sense Party.

Stephen knows he will be a fair, honest and compassionate Surrogate, if elected. He welcomes support from non-machine Democrats, Republicans and Conservatives, and Independents. He is running on his record and his years of experience in the very field over which, he wishes to preside. Stephen has the temperament, intelligence, composure, experience and compassion for others to be a first rate Surrogate Court Judge in Queens County. In short, Stephen is running on merit and that is the way it should be. 

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