Judge and former DA seeks return to his old job
HUDSON — Columbia County Judge Paul Czajka resigned Wednesday, May 4 and has announced his intention to run for district attorney, a post he held between 1987 and 1994 before his election to county judge in 1994.
In a press conference May 5, in front of the Columbia County Courthouse, Mr. Czajka, who had 4 years left on his second 10-year term as judge, said of his decision, “I fervently believe… that I can better serve the unfortunate victims of crimes, our citizens, and the taxpayers of Columbia County as our district attorney… the single most important position in the county for implementation of justice.
“I can better reach my goal on the other side of the bench as district attorney, where I can prosecute the guilty, while pursuing justice for victims,” he said.
In a press release he promised to be a hands-on district attorney who will personally investigate crime and assist police officers in their investigations, and appear in court to prosecute crimes. He promised “greater leadership, accountability, and responsibility.”
Mr. Czajka, a lifelong Republican who plans to seek the endorsements of the county Republican, Independence and Conservative Party committees, refrained from criticizing current District Attorney Beth Cozzolino, a Republican. She could not be reached by phone for comment.
County Democrats have yet to name a preferred candidate. Former DA Eugene Keeler said early this year that he planned to seek the nomination, but Democratic Party leaders have also interviewed other potential candidates. Even if someone is designated as the party’s choice for the job, other hopefuls could still mount a primary challenge in September.
The general election is November 8. District attorneys are elected to four-year terms.
In his prepared statement Mr. Czajka said he would work within the limited financial means of the taxpayers to provide leadership and guidance for police officers, and would implement greater efficiencies through a smaller staff, a streamlined prosecutorial process and improved training and inter-agency communication.
Mr. Czajka, 57, a resident of Livingston, received his undergraduate from the State University of New York at Albany in 1977 and his law degree from Western New England College School of Law in 1981. His resignation leaves the county with only one sitting judge, Jonathan Nichols, who is running for election to the State Supreme Court. The governor has the option to appoint an interim judge.
If he is elected district attorney Mr. Czajka would earn $10,000 less than the $136,000 he earned as a judge.