WATERLOO — Christopher Folk has resigned as Waterloo town justice and assistant Seneca County attorney, effective Sept. 30.
He said his future plans may be clearer next week.
“While I will be leaving the bench at the end of September, I will continue to be a part of my local community and the new roles that I undertake will be purposeful to help ensure that I will remain a positive fixture, a voice of reason and will try to help improve our community and the role of government,” Folk said in an email.
He said that after former State Sen. Mike Nozzolio announced in 2016 that he was not seeking re-election, he created an exploratory committee to look into the feasibility of a run for Nozzolio’s seat. Folk met with Republican Party chairmen in the 54th District and attended larger party meetings.
“I was present at the nominating convention at Club 86 and ultimately was not able to garner sufficient support to move forward in the process,” Folk said. “I was engaged in this while I was a judge and although I had received initial opinions from the Judicial Ethics Commission, this ultimately resulted in some displeasure from the ethics committee as well as in Albany due to some statements I made regarding my views concerning the New York SAFE Act.”
Folk said that resulted in him being involved in a hearing and fact-finding session with the Office of Court Administration over the past 18 months.
“I finally reached the point where it became apparent that the cost of continuing to fight was prohibitive and remaining as a judge was severely hampering my ability to consider various political offices,” he said. “Therefore, after a long process of evaluation and analysis, my family and I determined that the best course of action was to resign from judicial office so that I could pursue other opportunities.”
Folk said he enjoyed his time on the bench and “always tried to be well-reasoned, logical and lawful.”
He said it wasn’t always easy being a judge.
“I was in the midst of one of several jury trials that I presided over when I adjourned for the evening and came home on December 21, 2017 to find that my son, Tristan, had taken his life,” Folk said. “I have had a lot of ups and downs in life and as a judge. It came to the point that I realized that like many things, this had run its course. There is only so much that I could do as a town justice and I needed to re-evaluate and make some hard decisions.”
He said his resignations give him an opportunity to be more vocal, to be more visible and help ensure that justice is dispensed to the citizens of the county.
“I plan to become more active in areas that I was precluded from as a judge. I also plan to help identify local needs and I plan to run for higher office when the time is right, when I have a firm grasp of the needs of the community and I have a plan to effectuate resolutions and solutions,” he said.
He said he will have more information on his future plans soon.
Folk, a Republican, was elected for his first four-year term in November 2011 and was re-elected in 2015. He has obtained his law degree during his tenure as town justice and now serves as Assistant Seneca County Attorney.
Supervisor Don Trout said Waterloo Village Justice Conrad Struzik has agreed to take over as acting town justice Oct. 1. The position would then be filled at the November 2019 election.