‘I’m not about the status quo’

Frank LaBuda hopes to step out of retirement and back into public service

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 6/17/20

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — Retired Sullivan County Judge Frank LaBuda is running for the district attorney’s job with his family and his supporters behind him. 

No endorsements. …

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‘I’m not about the status quo’

Frank LaBuda hopes to step out of retirement and back into public service

Posted

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — Retired Sullivan County Judge Frank LaBuda is running for the district attorney’s job with his family and his supporters behind him. 

No endorsements. He’s putting up his own signs. It’s a purely grassroots campaign, and he’s okay with it, he says. In fact, he’s proud of it. 

“I don’t care what the party bosses say,” he said. “I didn’t have a machine. I had my family and a few supporters and we got 1,000 signatures... I’m not indebted to anyone except the people of this county.” 

He’s facing Democrat Meagan Galligan in the Republican primary on Tuesday, June 23.  If he wins, he’ll run against Galligan in the general election in November as the Republican candidate.

LaBuda was born and raised in the Bronx, but the family had property in Wurtsboro and built a house there. “I’m the first person in my family to finish college,” (he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from City University) “and have a professional career.” He went to law school at Case Western on scholarship, he said, and graduated at the top of his class.

He also served in the Army for three years, starting in 1975, and afterward headed for Sullivan County, where he and wife Kathy raised a family while he joined the DA’s office. Ten years were spent as chief assistant district attorney, followed by 23 years as a county court and acting Supreme Court judge.

When he hit 70, he had to retire. But “I’m not about the status quo,” he said. 

The life in public service that he recounts is about stepping up and doing the job. Sometimes that’s volunteer work; he spent more than 35 years as a Wurtsboro firefighter. There are task forces, like the one focused on arson, drug courts and programs, like Stop DWI. The work is also about re-joining the Army for the first Gulf war and serving in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq. It’s about helping to establish the Recovery Center. “I’m a person who gets involved,” he said. “I’m raising my hand again.” 

Now the crisis he sees is the drug war. “I had to watch because I was a judge... We have the highest opioid addiction rate [and the highest] death rate.” Now that LaBuda is retired, he wants to go on the offensive. “We’re going to do this with a targeted efficiency” to stop drug dealers. “My greatest satisfaction will be when we set up a banner that says, ‘Leave our children alone.’”

Above all, he says, he wants to leave the county a better place. “I’ve given eulogies for children who died of drug overdoses.” He doesn’t want to give any more. “People will know that they’re dealing with Frank LaBuda. I go for the right thing... My reputation and my work stand out.” 

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