Montgomery picks judge’s son to succeed him
In just one short week, the village of Montgomery lost their judge of 40 years and gained a new one—his son, Village Trustee Andrew Roepe who resigned his position on the Village Board last week to take on his father’s mantel.
“I did not expect to be leaving the board,” said Roepe. “It seems sort of surreal.”
Roepe said the prior week was a blur and thanked the board, village staff and the public for their love and support over the preceding week.
“It meant a lot at a difficult time, and made it less difficult,” said Roepe.
He went on to explain that he had simply planned to attend the meeting with suggestions of individuals to appoint to the vacancy. Instead, he found himself resigning his elected position and making preparations to take on the responsibility of village justice.
Mayor L. Stephen Brescia acknowledged that it might appear as though he had rushed his decision on the appointment, but explained that several factors forced him to move forward instead of waiting.
After looking into the requirements for a suitable candidate, it was found that the new justice would need to reside within the village. In addition, if the mayor chose to appoint a person who was not a lawyer, they would need to attend a 6-day “judge school” in Albany—which was only held quarterly and happened to be starting Monday, Nov. 26. The last day to sign up was the day of the Village Board meeting last week.
“I believe my dad’s up there, pulling strings and laughing,” Roepe said about the timing.
Roepe noted that he had been looking forward to running for a second term on the Village Board in March. He added that he had learned a lot as a trustee and “greatly enjoyed” his time, but it came down to what he thought his father would want for the village.
“He would not want me to take it for him, for David Roepe,” said Roepe, explaining that instead he had decided it was what was in the best interest of the village given the circumstances.
“It would be unfair to any person to try to fill the shoes of David Roepe. It’s not going to happen. It’s not my intention,” said Roepe.
Roepe said his appointment would give the Village Board and residents some time to reflect and make up their minds as to who they would elect as a suitable replacement for the long term in the spring. His resignation from the Village Board was necessary because he could not hold two elected positions in the village at the same time.
Roepe said he had not decided whether he would run for election in March for the position of village justice.
Roepe did address rumors that Barbara Conroy would be replaced as court clerk by stating unequivocally that he would be keeping her on. The court clerk serves at the pleasure of the judge, not the Village Board.
“I wouldn’t do it if Barbara wasn’t there,” said Roepe.
The Village Board voted to accept Roepe’s resignation and the mayor subsequently appointed him to serve as village justice until the first Monday in April. The remaining year of Judge David Roepe’s term will be up for election in March, together with two trustee positions.
“You guys solved that well. I know my dad is smiling down,” said Sarah Roepe, daughter of the late village justice. “Congratulations, Andrew. They could not have found a better replacement than you.”
“Thank you for taking that offer,” said Mayor L. Stephen Brescia. “I believe you will do a great job.”
“Good luck, and keep us safe,” said Village Trustee Mike Hembury.
Up until now, Roepe had been working from home as a market maker for the American Stock Exchange. He anticipates putting that work on hold to focus on his new position.
“I want to get it right,” said Roepe.
The first step is completing the “judge school” in Albany. The Village Board voted to send Roepe for the training, which was to begin Monday, Nov. 26.
On Monday, the Village Board called a special meeting and appointed Walter Lindner to serve the remainder of Andrew Roepe’s term. Roepe’s seat is up for election in March and Lindner will have to win that election if he wishes to serve past March.
The appointment was conditioned on Lindner’s resignation from his current post on the Planning Board. The Village Board will address the resulting vacancy on the Planning Board at their next meeting on Dec. 4.
Lindner has sat on the Planning Board for a little less than six months and leaves a five year term, set to expire in April of 2017. He also served on the ZBA prior to his appointment to the Planning Board.
Holiday activities are coming up in the village with the arrival of Santa Claus at village hall on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 1 p.m. Horse and carriage rides will be held from noon to 4 p.m.
The following day, Dec. 9, an actual train will be stopping in the village at about 1:15 p.m. to collect gifts for the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots. There is a possibility that Santa himself will be onboard. For more information, contact Village Trustee Mike Hembury at 457-9661.
Later in the evening, judges will be canvassing the village to select the winners for this year’s annual House Decorating Contest.
By Rachel Coleman