Edward C. "Ned" Burt to become the Democratic nominee for Judge of Probate in the combined Hamden-Bethany district. While he surpassed Henrici in both Hamden and Bethany, his 215-to-52 margin in Bethany was particularly high -- possibly because he won the endorsement of Bethany's Democratic Town Committee. We spoke with Burt, who will face Republican Matthew Corcoran in November, about what the Hamden-based attorney will do to properly serve the people of Bethany.
We heard your presence on the ballot in Bethany could have been responsible for higher voter turnout yesterday.
That's what we heard in Hamden as well.
What do you want Bethany voters to know about you?
Well, I've been practicing law since 1981. I started in New Haven, and worked in court system for a time. Opened my practice on my own, came to Hamden, and I've been here on Whitney avenue ever since. I do general practice, mostly accidents, real estate, or probate. My wife has been my partner in the firm for the last close to 10 years. I worked in the state court system for a while. And I've been an adjunct faculty at Quinnipiac for the last 25 years.
What made you decide to run?
I've always wanted to be the probate judge. And the probate judge in Hamden for the last 30 years, Salvatore Diglio, is a wonderful human being -- nobody would ever think of challenging Sal for the position. And as you know, the probate courts got combined about a year ago and the judge over in Bethany has the same reputation -- Yale was the probate judge for 30 years too. Sal has to retire this year because he's reaching 70, which is why the position opened up.
But i love helping people, I love serving the community, and I love being active in community affairs. I've taken a lead role in a playground in Bassett Park in Hamden named after a gentleman who was murdered. We literally built it with our own hands, as a project. I've coached youth sports, and I helped set up a website for Hamden High School.
What did you think about the courts being combined?
I don't like it. I think the probate court is a town-orientated system, and they should have left it the way it was. I think people in town need to know their probate court. That court is really a family court, and it's essential people feel comfortable -- many times it's the highest level of stress a family could have. And it's also important for a family to know their probate court judge. One of the reasons i did so well in Bethany is that, even though Hamden dwarves Bethany in population, I went over to Bethany. I spent time at the recycling center, I spent time knocking on doors. I wanted to make sure the people knew I would not just be a Hamden probate judge. I'll be a Hamden/Bethany judge. That's one of the reasons, I think, the Democratic Town Committee in Bethany endorsed me.
How will you be reaching out to Bethany residents?
The important thing for me is continuing to go to Bethany so people know me. I'll be going to different functions - the flea market at the airport, picnics, carnivals. I think people need to know the probate court judge is approachable in the event there's a tragedy in the family. I want them to know they're not coming to a foreign court. they might not always agree with the decision, but at least they're familiar with myself.
I ran on a fairness and integrity and compassion plank, and I think the most important part of that is compassion. My mom's from a small town too -- East Hampton, with 5,000 people. And i know how tight a small community is, especially a rural community ... I know that small-town feel and i love that small-town feel. I love Bethany. And I think it's important for the people to know me. Don't get me wrong - i'm a Hamden boy, born and raised, and i love my hometown. But i recognize it's a two-town probate court.
And it's an unusual situation.
We're having this election, but frankly, both in Bethany and Hamden, there hasn't been much in terms of an election for some time. It's stayed apolitical, which I think is the way probate court should be. You don't want a politician for a probate court judge. I'd be proud to get the job and serve like Guy Yale and Sal Diglio have. And I think I can -- I can give people a fair hearing. And frankly, I love people. I love working with people. I'm very empathetic.
The bottom line is, I strongly feel the probate court, in both towns, is a family court. And I can assure the people of both communities, if they need to come into the probate court, they will find someone who will be compassionate and listen to their concerns.