Southold attorney announces primary for town justice

Eileen Powers
Eileen Powers

Registered Republicans, Conservatives and Independents will have their choice of candidate for Southold Town Justice this year.

Southold attorney Eileen Powers announced Monday that she is seeking the nomination on all three lines and will run a primary campaign. 

Ms. Powers, a former prosecutor and current trial attorney with a private practice in Riverhead, had screened with town Republicans but was passed over in favor of Mattituck attorney William Goggins for the party’s nomination. She did not screen with Conservative and Independent leaders, who are also expected to back Mr. Goggins.

“I think my résumé speaks for itself and I’m the best candidate for the job,” she said.

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 that it’s her experience 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 committee convinced him to run again. Mr. Price, a longtime Republican, ran as a Democrat after he did not receive the party’s nomination that year. He received nearly 60 percent of the vote over Mr. Goggins.

“The party was really split two years ago,” Mr. Goggins said. “In hindsight I wouldn’t have run.”

He said, however, that he still believes he’s the ideal candidate this time around.

“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. Goggins said he had the overwhelming support of the Republican committee and is prepared to “rise to the occasion” in the potential primary.

Ms. Powers, who is married to former Southold Town Democratic Committee leader Larry Tuthill, said she has deep roots in the community and she believes her relationships can guide her to a successful campaign.

“I’m going to let the registered voters of Southold Town decide who they want their candidate to be and not just the individuals on the committee,” she said.

The primary would be held on Thursday, Sept. 10.

The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 3. Attorney Brian Hughes of Southold is the Democratic nominee for Town Justice.

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