This year's race for town justice include two Democratic candidates who previously ran against each other in the 2009 Democratic primary; Todd Gabor and David Menken. Back then, Menken defeated Gabor with the majority vote. Menken went on to run against Erik Jacobsen in the general election, narrowly losing to Jacobsen by 36 votes. Patch met with both candidates for Town Justice and asked the same questions of each. Gabor has been endorsed by the Bedford Republican Committee and the Bedford Democratic Committee.
Todd Gabor has a private law practice and has nearly 30 years of legal experience. He has also served as a court-appointed arbitrator in Nassau County for 16 years. Gabor has been a Little League coach in Bedford since 2008 and has lived in Bedford for 16 years with his wife Shawn and their two children.
David Menken David Menken is a partner at the White Plains law firm of McCarthy Fingar and has almost 30 years of legal experience. He has served on the Bedford Zoning Board of Appeals since 2003 and is its current chairman. He is also President of the Bedford Village Fire Department and serves as an active firefighter and EMT. Menken is also 1st Vice Chair of the Westchester County Charter Revision Committee and is a former Mount Kisco Village Attorney. Menken lives in Bedford Village with his wife, Julie, and two college-aged children.
Patch Q & A
Patch: Why do you want to serve as town justice?
Gabor: When I moved here 16 years ago, Kevin Quaranta was running and I told my wife, 'this is what I want to do.' It’s a natural progression to go from practicing law in a courtroom, hearing thousands of cases, to being an arbitrator to being a judge. It's also a give back—giving your experience back to the community in which you live. I feel really equipped to bring my experience here to my home community. I look forward to the diverse range of situations and the emergencies that arise. It feels like a calling, and it excites me.
Menken: I want to serve the community in the manner which best fits my experience, character, temperament and background. Although I currently serve in several capacities, I consider the Town Justice court as important in the lives of the people of Bedford—those who come before the court, practice in the court and are affected by the court's actions and decisions—as any organization in which I currently serve. I believe that I have the qualities it takes to be make a positive difference in the Town, and the most effective place for me to do that is on the Town Justice Court.
Patch: What qualities will you bring to the bench?
Gabor: I'll administer justice fairly. I’m in a positon in my career where I can devote as much time as possible. I hope to be the kind of judge that is "hot on the bench"—I'll read files and make notes prior to when the defendant is before me to ensure my familiarity with cases, which I know from my own practice is so helpful in administering justice. I haven’t been a judge but I’ve been an arbitrator and to be good at both you have to be a true advocate and be able to argue both sides and be a good listener. I am seasoned arbitrator and have written thoughtful decisions on every case I'm involved with.
Menken: I will bring my legal experience, my character, and my history of community service—this especially makes me feel I know the town. I understand the people who live here. I'm fair and I show respect for all sides. My work on the zoning board has also prepared me for the job. When I hold public hearings for Zoning Board, I ensure the board treats everyone who comes before board with respect and gives everyone an opportunity for a fair hearing. I ensure that applicants and community members have time and our attention when giving their opinions. Then I review the testimony and apply the law to the facts of the case and make a well-reasoned decision.
Patch: What's your take on the town's lawsuit over the justice election term?
Gabor: I was prepared for either a partial, three-year term or a four-year term and I support the town's decision. However, part of their reasoning was because it's better for candidates to run with a slate. Running alone for this election has been fine for me—in fact I prefer it because I’m a non-partisan candidate; even though I’m on the Republican line, I’m a Democrat. I was selected for my experience and qualifications not because of my party affiliation.
Menken: I supported the town’s position—it’s hard to run on your own. I started my run with the understanding I was filling the rest of Kevin Quaranta's term. It’s logical to keep the justice race aligned with the other town elections and easier for a slate to raise money rather than on your own. However, this run—unlike a typical 8-month campaign—was condensed into two-and-a-half months, and I've received financial support from all political spectra, which is encouraging.
Check back with Patch on Monday for part II of the Q&A with the town justice candidates.