The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 
By R.J. MARX
Todd Gabor, a Democrat who is running on the Republican ticket for Bedford judge.
 

A deadlock between two county election officials could send the race for the Bedford town justice to the courts. At issue is the length of the term. With the death of judge Kevin Quaranta, Westchester County Republican election commissioner Doug Colety agreed with the Town of Bedford’s request for a three-year term to fill the unexpired term of Mr. Quaranta. However, Democratic commissioner Reginald LaFayette said that the term should be a four-year term, and should commence with this year’s election in November. Under Mr. LaFayette’s plan, the winner of November’s election would remain in office until 2016, and would run separately from other town party candidates. Under the plan presented by the town of Bedford and endorsed by Mr. Colety, the term would fill Mr. Quaranta’s unexpired portion, and would conclude in 2015, at which time future candidates would vie for the position in town elections.

Mr. LaFayette was in Charlotte, N.C., at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday. “The commissioners vary on the difference,” said executive commissioner Tajian Jones, assistant to Mr. LaFayette. “Mr. LaFayette feels that it’s a full term. Commissioner Colety has the sense that it’s an expired term, that’s how it should go.”

According to Mr. LaFayette in a letter to Bedford town clerk Boo Fumagalli, the state constitution requires that town justices be elected to four-year terms, “regardless of whether the election is the result of the expiration of a four-year term, or the result of a vacancy which occurs during a four-year term.”

“There is case law supporting both positions,” said Mr. Colety. “We’re interpreting differently in this situation. We’re deadlocked. As it’s a matter of law, the best course of law is to return it to the court. When the two commissioners disagree, it would be the same if we were in a recount, a dispute over absentee ballots or the petition process.”

It will be the judge’s discretion to determine whether it will be resolved via trial or testimony, Mr. Colety said.

Mr. Colety said that the case before the court would be expedited, and a decision could be delivered within 10 days to two weeks once papers are filed. As of Wednesday, the town of Bedford had not done so.

Former town supervisor John Dinin was named interim judge on Wednesday and will serve until the swearing in of the winner of the November race on Jan. 1. While Mr. Dinin is an unaffiliated voter, he ran as a Republican for supervisor.

Democratic town judge candidate David Menken said that despite Mr. LaFayette’s stance, he agreed with the town board’s proposal. “I assume I am running for the unexpired term of Kevin Quaranta, which runs for another three years,” Mr. Menken said. “I completely agree with and support the town board's decision that the town justice position be in line with the other town elections.”

“I commend the town board for doing the right thing,” said Bedford Republican Committee chairman Don Scott on Thursday. “This is something that makes sensee, not about perceived partisan advantage at election timing. The untold story is that Reggie LaFayette feels that the Democratic turnout is better in a presidential election year, and that’s why he’s holding to his guns, to make this a four-year term out of sync with local elections.”

This week, Mr. Scott and the Bedford Town Republican committee filed paperwork with the Westchester County Board of Elections today naming Bedford Village resident Todd Gabor as its party’s candidate to fill the remaining three years of the term of town justice. In 2008, Mr. Gabor ran for the position in the Democratic primary. He was defeated by Mr. Menken, who subsequently was narrowly defeated by Republican Erik Jacobsen.

“Todd has nearly 30 years experience as a trial attorney arguing exactly the kinds of cases that appear before our Town Court,” said Bedford Republican Committee chairman Don Scott. “He’s also served for 16 years as a court-appointed arbitrator.”

According to Republican vice-chairman and nominating committee member Luke Vander Linden. Mr. Gabor was chosen from “about a dozen” potential candidates. “We weren’t interested in finding the perfect candidate, we wanted to find the perfect judge,” said Mr. Vander Linden in the committee’s statement.

On Thursday, Mr. Scott added that as a litigator, Mr. Gabor is familiar with town and village courts. “He knows the faces and how they work,” Mr. Scott said. “I’m also very impressed by his empathy, and his ability to relate to people. That’s important.”

Politics is not the issue, said Mr. Scott. “He was unanimously endorsed by our committee,” he said. “The guy’s a hard-worker.”

Todd Gabor and his wife Shawn have lived in Bedford for 16 years. They have two sons who attend Fox Lane Schools. Todd has been a dedicated Little League coach since 2008. Professionally, Mr. Gabor has 28 years experience as a trial attorney and 16 years as a courtappointed arbitrator. He graduated from Pace Law School in 1984.

Kevin Quaranta, who died at age 56 following a battle with melanoma, first took the bench as one of Bedford’s two town justices in 2004. Last fall, he ran unopposed and was elected to his third four-year term, which began in January.

Bedford’s town justices preside over sessions of criminal court, civil court and traffic court.


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ARCHIVES

SEPTEMBER 7, 2012
Conflict over term length could send judge race to courts
‘Pops, Patriots and Fireworks’