2016-11-04 / Community

Election 2016

Meet the candidates

York County Judge of Probate

The race for York County Judge of Probate features Democrat Bryan Chabot of Wells facing off against independents Robert Nadeau, the incumbent, and Bernard Broder of Old Orchard Beach. There is no Republican in the race.

Candidate survey forms sent by the Post to each candidate were printed Oct. 28 and featured responses from Broder and Chabot. A survey from Nadeau had not been received. Nadeau said that because he was not in the county office building after Sept. 23, he did not receive the emails, nor was he alerted to voice mail messages left for him. His survey response is printed below.

Name: Robert M. A. “Bob” Nadeau

Age: 61

Address: Sevigny Avenue, Biddeford

Phone: 494-8086 email: rob@nadeaulegal.com

Occupation: Attorney; York County Judge of Probate

Family: Married with three children

Education completed: Bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University; Juris Doctor degree from Delaware Law School of Widener University; post-graduate of U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s School; completed coursework at the National College of Probate Judges and the National Judicial College.

Political experience: York County Judge of Probate (five terms)

Organizations and activities: Maine Probate Judge’s Assembly (vice president);

Top three issues:

1. Our probate courts, unlike our state courts, are dependent upon very stingy county commissioners to give us funding for adequate judicial time that has not increased from a mere 64 hours (eight days) per month since 1999 despite my need to handle more than 1,700 new cases per year. Those cases often involved very protracted, emotional trials lasting several days. We need a probate judge with the courage to continue to put politics aside and to instead keep fighting for proper levels of county support. The national standard is a full-time judge for every 600 cases, not one eight day per month judge for 1,700 cases. And, the problem in our county has been exacerbated over the past three years by the opioid epidemic resulting in an explosion of emergency child custody hearing needs. Neither of my opponents has tried a single case to final judgment in our probate court during the 16 years I have been on the bench, whereas I have tried more than 1,000 such cases, so they don’t understand or speak about those realities. Thus, they are quick to make uninformed claims of what they say they will do if elected that, as several attorneys familiar with them have noted to me out of grave concern, will betray the needs of our children, families and adult incapacitated loved ones who depend on our probate court for proper county support and service. The voters deserve a judge who understands and fights for the people’s needs, even when he is attacked by county officials for doing so because they don’t want to look bad. The people we serve, not part-time elected county commissioners who spend only four hours per month at almost $140 per hour despite their lack of meaningful training in government, business and law, have to come first. Whether the county politicians like it or not, we need a judge with the honesty and courage to keep asking them for such support, not someone like either of my opponents who have simply been saying what they think they need to say to get elected.

2. Continuing to effectively address York County’s opioid epidemic. It has resulted in an explosion of child custody cases in our probate court over the past three years. The children must and do come first in my court. Their parents must solve their addictions away from the children, and work on transitioning themselves meaningfully back into their children’s lives if they are truly committed to doing so.

3. Protecting the dignity and maximum independence of our growing population of adult incapacitated citizens, while working hard to continue my policy of providing a well-known “rocket docket” of speedy hearings and resolution of cases far surpassing the response times of other courts.

Why are you seeking elected office?

On an almost daily basis, and several times per day while I have been on the campaign trail, I have been approached and thanked for the positive differences I have made in the lives of our citizens and families. That type of reward far, far exceeds the value of anything else I could do or receive. Attorneys and others who know my opponents and who have seen me work as a judge know the tremendous deficit our court would experience if I could not continue this very worthy work. The ability to deliver meaningful, effective, efficient public service to the children, families and incapacitated adults who depend on the York County Probate Court requires experience, compassion, hard work and the courage to deal with county politicians who know very little about the probate court and are so fiscally tight that they are unwilling to properly fund badly needed judicial time, thereby doing more harm than good. I have written many sometimes ground-breaking court decisions for the benefit of our citizens that have been upheld on appeal, drafted court forms used statewide, fought for child support reforms favoring guardians, and once spent $25,000 of my own money to buy court computers and to pay for a needed court staff member when the county wouldn’t. I treat everyone who comes to court with attention, respect, care and clear solutions. We need to ensure that this continues, rather than rolling dice.

If you could change one thing about operations of the probate office, what would it be and how would you do it?

We need a new Register of Probate, one who is selfless, who will be loyal to and supportive of the needs of our probate court and its users, and who can be trusted. We don’t have that. Thus, I support Allen Sicard of Saco for election to that office because he is far better qualified than the incumbent register and because that office shouldn’t be about party or politics any more than mine is. In fact, because I have historically been and continue to be supported by voters from all parties – Democrats, Republicans and Independents – and because I strongly believe that a fair judiciary must be free from politics, I ceased being a Democrat after my first three terms of office and switched to being an Independent in 2012 despite the greater amount of campaign work that doing so involves. And, if there were one more thing I would change, it would be to have the county, or perhaps even the state, fund the position full-time so that improved levels of service can continue to be delivered for our citizens. Unfortunately, however, most of the smaller counties in the state perennially oppose the passage of legislation to place the probate courts under the state court system away from dependence on county officials for support.

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