Race Pits Grandpa Against Grandson | News
BARRE, N.Y. (AP) - It's one of the more talked about races in Orleans County, a grandson challenging his grandfather, a longtime incumbent, for Barre town justice.
But Bert Mathes and John Henderson want the public to know this election isn't a big family dispute. The two already plan on enjoying Thanksgiving dinner together.
"I'd do anything I could to help Bert become town justice - after I retire," Henderson said. "I'd even campaign for him."
Mathes says he admires his grandfather and wants to follow his example as town justice. He also said there won't be hard feelings because of the election.
"We're both in agreement that whoever wins, wins," Mathes said.
Henderson, 73, has held the position for nearly 24 years.
"This is just as if I have another opponent running against me," Henderson, a Democrat, said at his home on Route 31A. "It has nothing to do with my family life. I love all of my grandchildren."
Mathes, 34, said he talked with his grandfather last fall about the part-time position. Henderson said he was considering retiring, but hadn't made up his mind. The Barre Republican Committee was looking for candidates this spring and Mathes said he'd run. He didn't think his grandfather would seek another four-year term serving the town of about 2,000 people 30 miles west of Rochester.
But Henderson said he feels good and doesn't want to leave the position yet.
"I enjoy the job and I think I'm doing a good job," he said.
He has court the second, third and fourth Thursdays of the month, and is available "24-7" for arraignments. Henderson handles vehicular and traffic, criminal, small claims and civil cases. His favorite part of the job: performing weddings. (he has married 139 couples in his career).
"Doing weddings is one of the best parts of being a town justice because everyone is smiling and happy," he said. "It's a lot better than sentencing someone to six months in jail."
Henderson, a past president of the Orleans County Magistrates Association, is a retired library media specialist at Holley Central School. He and his wife of 51 years, Louise, have six children, nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
Mathes and his wife, Merri, have three children. Mathes works a senior building maintenance worker for the Orleans County Highway Department. He also has worked in maintenance for Holley Central School. He has volunteered the past 15 years as a Barre firefighter.
"I'm dealing with the public every day," Mathes said. "With town justice, you have to be good with the public."
If Mathes is elected, he would be the youngest justice in the county. He thinks that would be good for the community.
"I have a good sense on the younger generation," he said. "I'd have a different outlook."