What you need to know for Thursday’s Southold Town Justice primaries

09/09/2015 8:00 PM |

Southold Primaries

A trio of primaries will be held Thursday in the race for Southold Town justice.

Southold attorney Eileen Powers is challenging the town Republican committee’s nominee, William Goggins, for that party’s line, and both candidates will face Democratic nominee Brian Hughes for the Conservative and Independence nods.

The three candidates are vying for the seat being vacated at the end of the year by retiring Judge Rudolph Bruer, who announced in April that he would not seek re-election after 20 years in office.

For both Mr. Hughes and Mr. Goggins, this marks a second bid for town justice. Ms. Powers, who screened with GOP officials but did not receive the nomination at the party’s convention in May, is making her first run for public office.

“I think my résumé speaks for itself and I’m the best candidate for the job,” she told The Suffolk Times when announcing her primary campaign June 1.

A trial attorney with a private practice in Riverhead, Ms. Powers previously served nearly a decade in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, first as an assistant district attorney and later as an assistant bureau chief. For the past 13 years she has run her own private practice while also serving as town attorney in Southampton from 2002 to 2005 and village attorney in Belle Terre since 2006.

She said it’s her experience both as a former prosecutor and as a trial attorney in each of the East End courts that best qualifies her for judge.

“I’m a trial attorney who is in court every day,” Ms. Powers said. “I know what my clients want in a judge and I think I am that person.”

Mr. Goggins, who ran unsuccessfully against Judge William Price in 2013, said knowing he had the support of most of the Republican committee convinced him to run again.

The Mattituck attorney also told The Suffolk Times he believes he’s the ideal candidate for the job.

“I have the experience,” he said. “I have 25 years as both a civil and criminal attorney. I couldn’t even count how many trials I’ve had and they’ve given me the opportunity to see things from both sides. I have a lot of knowledge of what works and what doesn’t.”

Mr. Hughes, of Southold, is a registered Independent who lost a bid for town justice in 2011. He is an attorney and former FDNY firefighter and fire marshal. His Democratic nomination is not being challenged, so heading into the primary he is the only candidate guaranteed to appear on the ballot for the Nov. 3 general election.

At the Democratic nominating convention in May, Mr. Hughes pointed to the arrest and conviction of former justice court clerk Christine Stulsky for stealing from the town’s bail fund as a major problem in the courts that needs addressing, saying ethics need to be restored to the court.

“With nobody noticing, half the court’s proceeds went missing,” he said, referring to the more than $260,000 Ms. Stulsky admitted to stealing. “I want to have someone watching that.”

Mr. Hughes said he would bring courtroom experience, executive administrative experience and ethical considerations to the office.

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