By Elana Glowatz
Justice will be served during the Port Jefferson government election later this month, with three people vying to be a village judge.
There are three years remaining on the term of former Village Justice Peter Graham, a judge of more than 30 years who died in office late last year, just months after being re-elected to his position on the bench. Bill Glass, the man appointed to fill in until the next election, is running to be returned to the seat and faces challenges from residents Tara Higgins and Scott Zamek.
Glass, 61, decided to run “because I really enjoy the job and I’d like to keep doing it.”
The lifelong resident, who also has volunteered with the Port Jefferson Fire Department for more than four decades, has a private law practice in the village through which he represents fire and emergency medical service groups throughout Suffolk County.
He graduated from Fordham Law School and once filled the roles of village prosecutor, village attorney and village trustee. He was also previously an assistant district attorney in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, where he worked under village Trustee Larry LaPointe in the Rackets Bureau.
Glass tried to win a village justice seat in 2011, but voters re-elected Graham.
People should vote for the married father of three this time because “I feel like I know the village inside and out,” he said. He has vast experience in criminal procedure law, which is a “key ingredient” in the village court. “I think that I’m … uniquely qualified for the position.”
Higgins grew up in East Setauket and moved to Port Jefferson 18 years ago, when she got married. The 50-year-old, who graduated from Seton Hall University School of Law, said she spent time in defense litigation for an insurance company before moving on to Islandia-based Lewis Johs Avallone Aviles LLP. She does municipal defense work and civil defense litigation for that firm.
“I just thought that it was a natural progression in my career,” she said about running for village justice. “I’ve tried cases, I’ve written appellate briefs and I thought, ‘Why not?’”
Voters should choose her because she is experienced in the courtroom, she said.
“I’ve spent my entire career in the courthouse,” Higgins said. “There are plenty of lawyers who never see the inside of a courtroom.”
The married mother of two high school kids, whose father named the Tara Inn pub in uptown Port Jefferson after her, said, “I’m hardworking, honest, fair and think I’ve got a good temperament for the position.”
Zamek grew up in the village, graduating from the local high school, and returned with his wife to raise his three daughters in Port Jefferson.
The 55-year-old graduated from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and has a private practice in Hauppauge where he focuses on transactional real estate. He explained that he represents landlords and developers with buying, selling and borrowing transactions.
He decided to run for justice because he’s always wanted to be a judge and has always been involved with the community, including working summer jobs for the highway department, volunteering with youth sports, helping out with the Port Jefferson arts council and, for the last two decades, serving with the Royal Educational Foundation.
“I think it’s time for me to step up a little bit,” Zamek said. He wants to give back to the village because “I feel that’s something everybody should do. … I want to do what I can to make it as good of a place as possible.”
Voting is at the Port Jefferson Village Center on June 21, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Also on the ballot will be two trustee seats, for which the incumbents are running unopposed for re-election. Bruce Miller is running for his second term on the board and Bruce D’Abramo is running for his fourth.