By Rita J. Egan and Daniel Febrizio
This June 20, Village of Poquott trustee Darlene Mercieca is challenging current justice Paul Jay Edelson, who is completing his second four-year term.
Paul Jay Edelson
Edelson and his wife, Leta, have lived in Poquott for 37 years. For more than 30 years, he was dean of the School of Professional Development at Stony Brook University. In addition to serving as village justice, he is a former trustee, a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals and a Poquott Civic Association board member. His wife is a former village mayor and trustee.
The village justice is an attorney, who graduated from Hofstra University Law School, while working full time at SBU.
“Like many people in our community, I learned to juggle family, work and school,” he said in an email. “My understanding of the many challenges confronting working adults is an asset in the courtroom and helps me better understand the lives of those who come before me.”
Edelson added he has performed pro bono legal work through the Nassau Suffolk Law Services. He is a New York State mediator for Small Claims Court and a member of the New York State Surrogate Decision-Making Committee.
“The SDMC exists to provide protection for the rights of severely intellectually disabled persons if there are major medical and end-of-life decisions to be made, when there are no other persons available and willing to take these responsibilities,” he added.
Edelson reflected on his tenure as justice so far.
“As judge, I am impartial, unbiased, fair and experienced,” he said. “I am fiercely independent and do not report to the village mayor, trustees or other village officials, including Code Enforcement. I do not make or amend our village laws. My sole job is to ensure that Poquott’s laws comport with both the NY and US Constitutions and that they are fairly and correctly administered without favoritism, outside influence or prejudice. Residents can be assured that I am independent of any and all political pressures.”
Mercieca is a five-year resident of Poquott. Due to her sister Dee Parrish being a former mayor and current trustee, Mercieca has been volunteering in the village for fundraisers and events for more than 20 years.
Mercieca is a health care professional with 30 years of experience. She has been a director of multiple departments within Brookdale University Hospital in Brooklyn, including working with vendor and employer contracts, according to her biography on the candidates’ campaign website, www.yourpoquott.com.
In addition to holding an MBA in finance and a master’s degree in health care administration, she has continued her education at the School of Law at Pace University in White Plains.
She is currently a chief operating officer with the Central Orthopedic Group in Plainview “overseeing over 200 staff members and budgets of $75 million. My professional experience focuses on daily operations, human resources and patient satisfaction.”
In an email, she said she has a law degree and LL.M, masters of law degree, with a focus on family law. Mercieca added she also has experience with contracts and vendor and employment agreements.
“The job of justice is to interpret and enforce the laws set by our board of trustees,” she said. “As a current trustee, a lot of work goes into developing a law for the betterment of the village. As justice I want to see these laws carried out to the community’s intention.”
Mercieca said she feels her health care background will be an asset to the position.
“I feel my career experience has shaped me to have empathy for individuals while ensuring our laws are enforced so that everyone can enjoy where they live,” she said.
During her tenure as trustee, she developed an interest in running for village justice.
“As a trustee, I worked on the short-term rental issues within the village and the board of trustees have worked hard on balancing this topic,” she said. “I want to ensure our laws are upheld while providing fairness to our residents and guests.”
In addition to voting for village justice, voters will choose from three trustee candidates running for two seats, see the June 8 The Village Herald Times article, “Three candidates vie for two trustee seats in Village of Poquott.”
The Village of Poquott will hold its annual election on Tuesday, June 20, at Village Hall, 45 Birchwood Av. Polling will be open from noon to 9 p.m.