Johnston Wins Primary Challenge

Will appear on fall ballot against incumbent judge

reg Johnston, who had been endorsed by the Democratic and Working Families parties for an open Beacon judicial seat but faced primary challenges from the incumbent, Timothy Pagones, prevailed in the Democratic contest while Pagones won the Working Families line.

In unofficial results posted by the Dutchess County Board of Elections on Tuesday night (June 22), Johnston won the Democratic primary, 1,067 to 171, while Pagones won the vote among registered Working Families Party members, 19 to 7.

Pagones, an independent who is seeking his second, 10-year term, filed with the Board of Elections to appear on the Republican, Conservative, Democratic and Working Families lines. That forced two primaries with Johnston, a public defender who filed for the Democratic and Working Families lines. Had Pagones prevailed in both, he would have been the only candidate for the seat on the November ballot.

Beacon has one full-time justice who serves a 10-year term and a part-time justice who serves for six years. The court handles misdemeanors, traffic infractions, evictions and various small claims. As a Republican, Pagones won six-year terms in 1999 and 2005 and a 10-year term, running unopposed, in 2011.

In response to a question from The Current before the vote, Pagones said that he had “been told by members of the Beacon Democratic Committee that, even though I am the most qualified candidate, I could not be endorsed because I’m unaffiliated and that my opponent would be because he is a registered Democrat.” He also accused the Democrats of “personal attacks and lies.”

In a letter to the paper, a member of the committee, Amber Grant, responded that the vote to endorse Johnston had been unanimous and that the committee believed “his deeper and more wide-ranging courtroom experience makes him the most qualified candidate.”

There was also a Working Families Party primary for Dutchess County Family Court judge. Rachel Saunders, who lives in Beacon, won the ballot line over the incumbent, Denise Watson, 74 to 72. Saunders will also appear on the Democratic line in November and Watson on the Republican and Conservative lines.

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