Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Voting for Adam Kagan for town justice because of legal experience and effort to modernize

To the editor:

I’m voting for Adam Kagan: Join me!

This Tuesday, we’ll all go to the polls to cast our votes. I’ve endorsed Kristen Burke, Maura Curtin and Adam Kagan for their respective town roles and Terry Clements for county legislator. I’ve also (proudly and enthusiastically) endorsed myself! I’ll be on the ballot unopposed, alongside Village of Pelham incumbent Trustees Mike Carpenter and Don Otondi and candidate for trustee Theresa Mohan. I’m excited to vote for the whole lot of us, and I hope you’ll join me.

For this letter, though, I’d like to speak directly about the race for town justice. Most of us are comfortable assessing qualifications for roles that are explicitly political: mayor, legislator, governor. These roles are often defined by the positions a person takes on a range of issues. It can be more difficult trying to assess who might be a good judge, since it requires a very different skill set. In New York State, judges aren’t even required to be lawyers, which makes judicial elections even more subjective. So let me share my top two reasons for supporting Town Justice Adam Kagan for reelection.

First, he’s incredibly well-qualified. As a practicing attorney for the last 16 years, he brings a wealth of legal experience to this role. He served for seven years as international counsel for MTV Networks and now serves as general counsel for Omnicom Precision Marketing Group, which provides legal expertise to 15 different companies in seven countries around the world. Before his election to the court in 2019, he served eight years on the Village of Pelham Board of Trustees (four as deputy mayor), not just interpreting law but writing it. For the past four years, he’s served as our town justice, hearing thousands of cases and working to ensure the court could operate in a constantly changing environment, due to the pandemic. As a lawyer, local legislator and current judge, he has grappled with the law from nearly every perspective. Personally, I feel really lucky that Kagan would be willing to serve our community and bring such an impressive array of professional expertise to our town court.

My second reason for supporting Kagan in his bid for reelection is that he understands an important fundamental truth about the justice system: A local court is not just a place we go to for judgment by some all-knowing bureaucrat ready to exert their authority. Our court system, like all branches of government, is a service.

Each of us could end up in front of the court at some point, having one of the worst days of our lives. On that day, we’ll hope that the process is fair and efficient. For those of us who don’t speak English very well, we’ll hope the court has a reliable way for us to communicate our perspective and needs. We’ll hope the court’s pool of public defenders reflects the diversity of our community. And we’ll hope that the judge is as keen to scrutinize their own perspective as they are to scrutinize ours. This is why Kagan’s commitment to modernizing the court is so important.

I had the opportunity to serve alongside Kagan on the village board between 2017 and 2019, and he was known for his curiosity and open-mindedness. He would often argue that we should never defend the status quo simply because “this is the way it’s always been done.” To me, thoughtful, professional independence and a commitment to continuous evolution is precisely what I want in a judge. That’s what makes Adam Kagan such an obvious choice for town justice, and why I’ll be voting for him on Tuesday. I hope you’ll join me.

Chance Mullen

322 First Ave.

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    Kathleen M JonesNov 6, 2023 at 1:27 pm

    Adam Kagan delivers on point of contact.