Candidate Statement: Town Justice Adam Kagan
I’m grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me to serve as Town Justice for the last four years, and I’m asking you to re-elect me on Tuesday, November 7th. When I was elected in 2019, our local Court was struggling to keep up with the 21st century. My predecessor (my opponent in November) had served for 8 years and it was surprising to me that our local Court relied on fax machines and hand-written documents (on carbons). Translation services were outdated and inaccessible for those who needed them most. Email was the exception, not the norm. In addition, New York State had just enacted bail reform, changes to discovery laws, and significant housing-law changes. Just a few months into my tenure, the pandemic forced our Court to adapt quickly to a digital, remote-meeting world.
I partnered with Court staff to modernize our local Court and prepare it for the future by:
• Adjusting Court hours for earlier morning appearances, reducing waiting time for residents;
• Strengthening security measures;
• Diversifying staff, including the first female Court constable in 15 years;
• Expanding attorneys available for cases and increasing representation among people of color;
• Hiring new translation service with 41 languages on-demand, at lower cost. The previous service was available only if requested in advance.
• Adding common forms to the Court section of the Town website
But there is still more to do. In the next four years, I want to continue this important work by:
• Streamlining payment processes because the Court still accepts forms of payment inconsistently;
• Improving clerk availability. Currently clerks’ offices are in separate offices in different buildings;
• Securing space for Judges to conference cases, perform legal research and write decisions;
• Digitizing file notes.
Being a Judge is a responsibility I take very seriously. In Pelham, we average over 100 cases each week and Judges are on call 24 hours a day, every day of the year. We also serve as after-hours backups to New Rochelle and Mt. Vernon and for adolescent and juvenile offender cases county-wide. Six police agencies have cases heard in our Court. Pelham and Pelham Manor Police for local crimes, vehicle, traffic, and parking, Westchester County Police for the Hutchinson River parkway, New York State Police on Interstate 95, MTA police for the train and its right-of-way, and DEC for environmental violations. We also hear landlord/tenant, small claims and Village ordinances violations.
Despite the significant volume of cases, our Court is focused on respectfully administering justice impartially and efficiently while remaining fair and accessible to all who need it.
Please vote for me for Town Justice on Tuesday, November 7th. More information at pelhamnow.com
About the candidate: Melissa and I moved to Pelham in 2008. Our children Henry and Josie are at Pelham High School now and they’ve often campaigned with me over 12 years as a Pelham Village Deputy Mayor, Trustee and Town Justice. They’ve learned the importance of serving their community and hopefully they’ve seen me learn and grow as a person and a Judge.