5th December 2023

Zavaglia committed to well-being of kids

To the Editor:

I am writing to express my wholehearted support for Joe Zavaglia’s candidacy for the position of Onondaga County Family Court Judge. Having had the privilege of working alongside Zavaglia during my tenure at the Onondaga County Department of Children and Family Services, I can attest to his unwavering commitment to the well-being of children and families in our community.

Zavaglia is more than just an accomplished county attorney, law guardian and defense attorney. He is a tireless advocate for the most vulnerable and overlooked members of our society – our children. His dedication to their welfare and his ability to see beyond their backgrounds and circumstances set him apart as an exceptional candidate for this important role.

One of Zavaglia’s standout qualities is his innate ability to listen. He always took the time to lend an ear, to understand, and to empathize with the issues and challenges that children and families faced. Moreover, he consistently went the extra mile for his clients, ensuring that their needs and concerns were addressed comprehensively. His commitment to fairness, open-mindedness and his willingness to ask the tough questions make him a valuable asset to our community.

What truly sets Zavaglia apart is his deep respect for children’s voices and their unique needs. He recognizes that a Family Court Judge does not merely possess the authority to dictate the lives of others but, more importantly, carries the responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of our children. He understands that the role of a Family Court Judge should be about empowering families to thrive, ensuring the safety of children, and providing the necessary support without imposing unnecessary restrictions.

In a world where children’s voices are often overshadowed and their needs neglected, Zavaglia’s unwavering dedication to their welfare is a beacon of hope. His approach to justice and advocacy is marked by compassion, integrity, and a deep commitment to the principles of fairness and justice.

As we consider the pivotal role of a Family Court Judge in shaping the lives of our community’s children, I wholeheartedly believe that Zavaglia is the candidate who will serve with the utmost integrity, compassion, and a genuine commitment to the well-being of our children and families. I urge all residents of Onondaga County to support Joe Zavaglia in his quest to become the Onondaga County Family Court Judge. Together, we can ensure a brighter, safer future for our community’s children.

Heather Douglass


Plumley: Legal career prepared me for role

To the Editor:

Two judicial seats for the positions of Onondaga Family Court Judge are open. Likely, either you or someone you know has been impacted by a decision made by a family court judge. How can you choose wisely among the candidates? I have some suggestions, and a methodical approach to offer.

First, learn about the work of the family court. Family court judges preside alone over family-centered cases, such as child custody, child neglect and abuse, juvenile delinquency and family offenses. Diverse individuals appear in family court: parents, grandparents, non-parent caregivers, and children; the impoverished and the wealthy, the ill and the healthy, the young and the elderly. The commonality? All are experiencing crisis, seeking direction, needing resolution and hoping for peace.

Second, learn about the relevant legal experience of the candidate. Devotion to family law and domestic relations law work, both inside and outside of the courtroom, should be at the top of your list. Family court cases are legally and factually challenging and navigating them is not intuitive. Often, areas of law outside of the family court act are interwoven into matters heard in family court, for example, social services law, education law and mental hygiene law. As such, the depth, breadth and focus of family law experience brought to the bench by the candidate matter immensely.

Third, learn about the candidate’s approach to legal analysis and problem-solving. Family court cases are hard. A judge should listen first, then ensure that due process is achieved through balanced, impartial and meticulous application of the law. Demonstrated work ethic is important — judges work intensely and boundlessly each day. People appearing in court should expect nothing less than acknowledgment and respect for their diverse backgrounds and individual needs, cognizant of fair and thoughtful access to our judicial system.

Fourth, learn about the candidate’s commitment to our community. True passion for supporting children and families exists beyond the courthouse doors through civic engagement and community leadership.

As you have likely surmised, I am a candidate for Onondaga County Family Court judge. If you agree with me that the above-described inquiries and qualities are vital to selecting our family court judiciary, then I humbly ask that you consider voting for me in this upcoming election. My legal career has prepared me to deliver these qualities to the family court bench.

I have been practicing family law as an attorney for 18 years. Fifteen years ago, I chose to devote my private litigation practice to family law and domestic relations law matters exclusively. As such, I have wide range and notable depth to my knowledge of these laws, as well as the courtroom intricacies and interpersonal sensitivities that are inherent in this work. I am pleased to have worked side by side, tirelessly, on behalf of individuals from all walks of life, including the underprivileged, disabled individuals, same-sex couples and non-native speakers. I prioritize educating my clients on the law, listening carefully and compassionately to each struggle, each fact, each circumstance, and counseling on child-centered outcomes. In addition to my courtroom practice, I am collaboratively trained. Collaboration is a form of alternative dispute resolution, which settles family disputes by implementing a neutral approach and considering the family as a whole. As a dedicated family law attorney, I have learned many lessons, and I expect to carry these lessons forward to the bench.

I received my JD, cum laude, from the Syracuse University College of Law, MS from the SU iSchool, and chose to make Central New York my home. My commitment to supporting our community’s youth and families is not limited to my professional life or the courthouse halls. As such, I have devoted countless hours of my personal time to civic engagement in the areas of informal, hands-on youth STEM educational programming.

I have been deemed qualified by the Central New York Women’s Bar Association and endorsed by New York Teamsters Local 317.

Thank you for voting.

Diane E. Darwish Plumley


DeMarche fights for families like mine

To the Editor:

In November 2005 I had a very traumatic loss in my life: My brother Ja’mon was murdered. The person who committed this crime was caught and brought to justice. The person whom I met made a big difference during this ordeal was, at the time, Oneida County District Attorney Doug DeMarche.

I on several occasions had to meet with the DA to go over the case before trial I was explained everything that would happen in court with complete care and full empathy coming from DeMarche. He treated our family with respect, kindness and love. I believe he saw that my brother didn’t deserve what happened to him, saw the family life he came from, was able to feel the love that came from us and when he went into court, he defended us to the very end.

Respectfully, I felt vindicated and thankful that we had DeMarche on our side. After the court was over, he even checked on the family to make sure we were doing OK. And I even brought him one of our T-shirts from a candlelight vigil we had. We considered DeMarche family.

I believe DeMarche would be an outstanding Family Court Judge. He is honest, caring, listens to the facts and gets to the right decision and he loves family. I think that is what made him push for the truth on our behalf for my brother.

I would like you to see my image of a DA with all the facts in a courtroom. He dims the lights for a projector. On the blank screen he begins to piece together a picture while he gives only the facts of the case, and when he finishes it’s a picture of my brother and his four children that the murderer ripped up and tried to destroy. Doug DeMarche is genuine, empathetic, professional, personable, and would be a terrific asset to Family Court.

Melissa Miller


Rosario: I have family law experience to be judge

To the Editor:

Dear Onondaga County Neighbors, my name is Lourdes Rosario and I am running for Onondaga County Family Court Judge.

As a first-generation Cuban American, I have been blessed to experience the American dream. I worked hard to pay my way through undergraduate and law school, and I have built a wonderful legal career in our community ever since, dedicating my entire career to the practice of family law.

I am proud to have received the rating “Highly Qualified & Commended” by the CNY Women’s Bar Association and the rating “Highly Qualified” by the Onondaga County Bar Association, the highest ratings one can earn. I currently serve as Court Attorney Referee in the Onondaga County Family Court, a quasi-judicial position where I preside over family law cases on matters of custody and visitation.

I am running for Family Court judge because I want to use my vast legal experience to serve our community, which welcomed my family and I so warmly. I humbly ask for your vote so that I can make a difference for central New York families in their time of need.

Lourdes P. Rosario, Esq.