Olean and Salamanca City Court Judge William J. Gabler, Sr., announced today that he is a candidate for the office of Cattaraugus County Judge that will be filled this fall due to the mandatory retirement of Judge Michael L. Nenno at the end of this year. Judge Gabler has been endorsed by the Conservative and Democratic Parties.
Judge Gabler retired from his position as Cattaraugus County Family Court Support Magistrate at the end of 2013, where he served for 28 years. He has continued to serve as the Salamanca City Court Judge, a position he has held for the past 25 years; and, was appointed to the part-time Judge position in the Olean City Court in January after serving in that Court the past year on assignment from his post as Salamanca City Court Judge filling the void left by Judge William H. Mountain’s retirement. In addition, he represents the Salamanca Industrial Development Agency and the Allegany County Department of Social Services’ Support Collection Unit.
In making the announcement, Judge Gabler said, “This decision comes after a great deal of thought, soul searching and prayer. My decision was made more difficult by the political challenge to the designating petitions and the removal of my name from the Democratic line on this year’s ballot. But, I believe it is more important for the voters of Cattaraugus County to have the opportunity to elect their next County Judge rather than our Judge being selected by a handful of political operatives in Little Valley. The nature of the work done by our County Courts is serious and sensitive and demands a judge with tested judicial experience. Just this year, our County Court has heard a murder trial and other serious felony cases and our Family Court deals on a daily basis with intimate and emotional issues such as the custody and visitation of children, abuse and neglect of children and juvenile delinquency. Our County Courts are no place for on-the-job training.”
He added, “I am 64 years old. I have been on the bench, hearing and deciding tens of thousands of cases in the New York State Family Court, Salamanca City Court and Olean City Court for nearly 31 years – essentially half of my life. Over those three decades I have been appointed, reappointed or elected 16 times. Sixteen times my record has been thoroughly vetted, approved and I have been continued in office – and my appointments have been made by Republican and Democratic administrations alike. I respectfully submit this stands as a testament to the quality of my judicial work, my work ethic and my judicial temperament. The voters of Cattaraugus County will not have to guess at the kind of County Judge I will be, they have only to look at my long judicial record for the answer.”
Judge Gabler is a lifelong resident of Olean. He attended Olean Public Schools and graduated from Olean High School in 1970. A magna cum laude graduate of the University at Buffalo with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, he attended Albany Law School of Union University on a full academic scholarship. He returned to graduate school at mid-life and received his Master of Arts in History from St. Bonaventure University in 2002. His thesis, Frank Wayland Higgins: New York’s “Forgotten Governor,” published by Citizen Printing Company in Allegany, New York, has gained some considerable local interest.
As an undergraduate, Judge Gabler served a two-year internship with the U. S. Treasury Department in Buffalo, New York and upon graduation he was appointed as a Revenue Agent. He later resigned that position to attend law school. While in law school he was employed as a Legislative Aide to Assemblyman Daniel B. Walsh from 1975 to 1977. Upon graduation from Albany Law School he was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1978 and the United States District Court, Western District that same year. He was admitted to the United States Supreme Court in 1982.
Judge Gabler started his legal career as an Assistant Public Defender in Monroe County. He served there as a Trial Assistant for three years from 1978 to 1981, returning to his hometown of Olean that year to establish a private law practice. The bulk of that practice was in the fields of Criminal Law and Family Law. During this time he also served as an Assistant Professor of Business Law and Accounting at St. Bonaventure from 1982 to 1985.
On November 1, 1985 he was appointed by New York State’s Chief Administrative Judge to the New York State Family Court as a Hearing Examiner (later, Support Magistrate). He served there for 28 years and was responsible for handling one-half of Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties’ Family Court caseloads each year. For four years (1988 to 1992) he was also assigned to the Erie County Family Court. After his initial appointment in 1985, he was re-appointed by the Chief Judge 8 times after a thorough review of his record on each occasion.
In 1991, he applied for permission for “dual employment” in the NYS court system and was appointed as a part-time City Court Judge in Salamanca. He has served there for the past 25 years, having been re-appointed or elected to that office on 5 occasions. This past year he also served in the Olean City Court in Judge William H. Mountain’s absence and was appointed to the part-time City Court Judge position by Mayor William Aiello in January when Judge Daniel Palumbo took over the full-time duties.
In addition to his legal and judicial experience, Judge Gabler has taught various legal courses at the college level. Already mentioned is his service at St. Bonaventure University, but he also taught Business Law and Criminology at Jamestown Community College for about 5 years; Constitutional Law, Criminal Justice, Family Law and Administrative Law at SUNY’s Empire State College over a period of seven years; and, The Legal Environment of Business at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford this past year.
Judge Gabler has been active in the community. He has been a board member of the Olean High School Alumni Association for 25 years and just finished a second stint as President of that Association. In addition, he served for many years as a board member of various organizations including, the Cattaraugus County United Way, the Cattaraugus County Campfire Council, the Allegany-Cattaraugus Legal Services, Inc., board member and President of Southern Tier Legal Services, the Board of Trustees of the St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing, the Board of Trustees of the Olean First Baptist Church and as a Past President of the Cattaraugus County Bar Association.
Judge Gabler is the father of three sons, Philip (Jody) Gabler of Ithaca, New York, William Gabler, Jr. of Washington, D.C. and Alexander Gabler of Wellsville, New York. He has three granddaughters, Eleanor, Lucia and Flora Gabler, all of Ithaca, New York.
In keeping with his record of non-partisanship and reflecting his history of bi-partisan support, Judge Gabler will be reaching out for support from voters in all political parties and independents alike.