Brockport voters will elect justices for village court June 17

By on June 10, 2014

Village of Brockport voters will make history during this year’s village election (June 17) when they elect the first two justices for the new village court.

Mayor Margaret Blackman researched the creation of a village court and reported to the village board regarding the feasibility of Brockport creating its own court. Her study concluded that a court would be beneficial to the village and to taxpayers.

On October 7, 2013, the Village Board unanimously passed resolutions establishing the position of village justice (two justices serving four-year terms) and authorizing funds for court set-up (not to exceed $27,000). Justices will be paid $15,000 per justice with no benefits and money has also be included in the budget to pay two part-time court clerks, according to the mayor.

The resolution establishing the court was subject to permissive referendum, however, a petition was never filed to bring creation of the court to a public vote.

The new village justice court will be housed in the Brockport Village Hall, 49 State Street. Necessary alterations will be made to create a courtroom as part of the current meeting room as well as an office for justices. Court software needs to be purchased as well as computers and on-line law books.

The resolution establishing the court states that funds for court set-up will come from delinquent parking ticket income.

“After the judges are elected, we can apply for a $30,000 JCAP (Justice Court Assistance Program) grant from the NYS Office of Court Administration,” Blackman says. Those funds would help to purchase necessary software as well as other items needed for court set-up, she says.

The court will be up and running after January 1, 2015, the mayor says, allowing time for alterations to the village hall and for the newly elected justices to attend training sessions planned for December 2014.

Blackman says the village considered holding court at the Sweden Town facility as well as the fire hall on West Avenue, but for various logistical reasons the Village Hall has proven to be the best option.

She described some of the changes which will need to be made at the village hall in order to accommodate the court. Judges will go where the codes office is now, she says, and court clerks will need their window secured. Part-time security will also need to be hired. An exit will be created in the courtroom/meeting room to allow egress directly to the outside. That change will allow for higher occupancy in the room, the mayor notes.

The current public restroom will also have to be adjusted because it is located adjacent to the raised platform at the front of the room which serves as a dais for village board meetings.

The village DPW will provide in-kind services for the village hall alterations, the mayor says.

Blackman notes the village continues to do well with revenue from parking tickets. “(As of) April 30 … $110,000 has been collected from village ordinances and parking fines,” she said.

The new village justice court will benefit residents, Blackman explains. “Justice will be more local,” she notes. “It will give us the ability to pay real attention to village ordinances and things that are happening in the village and will return fines to us that we don’t currently get and for which village police hand out tickets.”

Candidates in Brockport village elections unopposed
The three candidates running for office in the June 17 village election are all unopposed.

Kent Blair and Bill Andrews, Jr. are running for two village justice positions on the new village court and Trustee John LaPierre is running to complete the four-year term to which he was appointed last July following the election of Margaret Blackman as mayor. All three candidates are running on the Revitalize Brockport ticket.

Trustee LaPierre has lived in the village on College Street with his wife, Maggie, since 1988. The couple raised their four children in Brockport and LaPierre is a retired business group manager for Wegmans supermarkets.

“My strong business background, with experience in developing programs, managing budgets, keeping deadlines and expenses under control, is an asset to my candidacy,” LaPierre says. “Finding the low-cost solution is second nature to my moral fiber.”

LaPierre is a parishioner of Nativity Church where he is a member of the Parish Council and co-chair of the Nativity Parish Festival.

He says he likes living in the village because it offers all the advantages of a friendly neighborhood community.

“When we moved here 25 years ago, we were able to find a Victorian house needing some love and care and have enjoyed renovating it to make it our home,” Trustee LaPierre says. “Brockport has great shops where local people get to know you and try to bring the services needed; yet it is near larger stores when that need arises.We like being near a college which affords us access to the arts that only much larger communities offer. We like the ability to walk throughout the village, including taking our grandchildren to parks, dinner and a movie within walking distance.”

Current important village issues include code enforcement and housing, LaPierre says.

“Everybody has the right to a safe, clean and attractive place to live,” he says. “Brockport is feeling the results of years of inattention to what the residents want.          The village now finds itself needing effective code enforcement, increased property values, and an assurance for the quality of life that attracts people to move here. This past year has brought some of the needed changes, but there remains a lot of work to get done. Progress will continue. We need Brockport residents to continue to work with us and support the village board – bringing their concerns to us so we can get the job done.”

Work will continue on sensible and prudent budgeting, he says. “After my study of overtime costs, I found that we could increase the Police Department staff of officers and reduce overtime costs at barely no increase in total costs.”

As the liaison to the Department of Public Works, LaPierre says he recognized monies had not been allocated for needed equipment replacement. “This needed to change,” he says. “The new budget for 2014-15 has started to remedy this issue, as we continue to keep the infrastructure of the village strong.”

Additional issues of concern include vigilant monitoring of village expenses to keep taxes under control; finding ways to save money as mandated costs continue to increase; and finishing a study on changing over to LED street lighting, which Trustee LaPierre says would lower the cost of power by as much as 65 percent.

In regards to the new village justice court which will become functional in January 2015, Trustee LaPierre says, “studies have shown that this will not cost the village, but rather bring income back to the village. Law enforcement matters, such as parking and traffic cases, and housing code infractions, is a case in point.”

Additionally, LaPierre says the village is anxious to find a fiscal solution to the 60 Clinton Street site.

“A developer was willing to develop this property to eventually bring it back as a fully productive, taxpaying asset to the village,” he notes. “Even though we have not had any support from the Town of Sweden, we continue to search for a solution.”

Village Justices
Former village trustee Kent Blair is running for one of two justice positions on the new Village of Brockport Justice Court.

“The Village of Brockport and its community have afforded me many wonderful opportunities over the years,” Blair says. “Every time I finish one project, I find myself working towards another venture. There is something about the village that continues to draw me in. One of the most attractive aspects of this newly created position, is the fact I need to remain neutral on all issues. The most important roles of a justice are to be ethically sound, fair and impartial.”

Blair served as village trustee from 2009-2013 where he was liaison to the Brockport Police Department. “I was able to absorb the process and procedures of cases brought in front of the town court from the beginning to completion – an invaluable experience,” he says.

He is a past and present member of the Village Planning Board, a current member of the Brockport Ambulance Corps and public information officer for the Village of Brockport Emergency Operating Plan.

Blair lives with his wife, Rachael, in Brockport and is the father of two daughters and one granddaughter. He has worked for 18 years as a Time Warner Cable manager of operations.

“This new position in the village will not only go down in its history,” Blair says, “but as a participant, I want to help set the stage for future justices … I am honored and humbled to have been approached for this prestigious post and will do my best to serve this community, its residents, and all who visit it.”

Blair says that although he and fellow Revitalize Brockport candidate, Bill Andrews, Jr., are running unopposed, they feel it is necessary to state who they are and for what they stand.

“I believe it is important for everyone in the village to become engaged in the election process,” he explains. “The process should be open, communicative and fair.”

Bill Andrews, Jr. is also running for village justice on the Revitalize Brockport ticket.

“Simply put, I’m running to give back to the Brockport community that welcomed me, my wife, Alison, and our four boys 13 years ago when we moved to the village from Boston,” he says.

“We made the move mainly to be close to family, but were also attracted to the small town community spirit. I knew Brockport would be a great place to raise a family and it was the best move we ever made.We bought a beautiful house, but, more importantly, found a wonderful home in this community. Our four sons have not known another hometown.”

Andrews is currently Director of Information Technology at the University of Rochester Medical Center and previously held senior management positions as a financial officer and administrator.

He says the establishment of the new village court provides him with the opportunity to do some good and to give back to the Brockport community which has given him so much.

“I see my role on the justice court as interpreting the laws fairly, consistently and impartially,” Andrews says. “While a village court adds capacity to, and focus on, the village’s law enforcement interests, it will also allow me, as justice, to positively impact the lives of our citizens and neighbors. Every person who comes before the court deserves to be treated fairly and respectfully. Applying the law consistently and without prejudice, will make Brockport a safer and stronger community.”

Andrews encourages voters to come to the polls on election day.

“I have voted in most every election, local, state and national, since I turned 18,” he says. “Without exception, I felt better leaving the polling area than I did going in. That has to be because, regardless of outcome, I made my voice heard. I joined in. I contributed. I encourage the citizens of Brockport not to pass up that opportunity June 17.”

Polls are open from noon to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, June 17. Voting takes place at the Brockport Village Hall, 49 State Street.