Town attorney steps down, returning to private practice

After five-and-a-half years on the job, Southold Town attorney Martin Finnegan has decided to step down.

Mr. Finnegan took over as town attorney in 2009 after his wife, then-town attorney Patricia Finnegan, died. She had suggested he look into taking the position before she died, Mr. Finnegan said, adding the job stability helped him as a single father raising four children.

“There are excellent people that work here and it’s been my privilege to work with them and to serve as counsel for the Town Board,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “It’s been a great opportunity, but I never envisioned it being a lifelong appointment.”

Mr. Finnegan said he believes it’s a good time to go back to his private practice now that he’s remarried and his children have gotten older.

“It wasn’t an easy decision, since I have such a good relationship with people on the Town Board and department heads,” he said. “I learned a great deal.”

On Tuesday, the Town Board approved a resolution to launch a search to hire Mr. Finnegan’s replacement.

Supervisor Scott Russell said Mr. Finnegan will continue to work as town attorney until Feb. 13 to help with the transition.

“This is a big loss for the people of Southold Town,” the supervisor said.

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