Elections 2017: Lagonia Faces Challenge from Cohen Pierson

Town Justice Salvatore Lagonia and Aviah Cohen Pierson

Salvatore Lagonia
(Republican, Conservative, Independence, Reform)

For the past eight years, I have had the honor of serving Yorktown as your town judge. I came to this position with a background in law enforcement and private law practice. My professional experience in both fields provides me with unique skill sets to serve with an extensive knowledge of both criminal and civil matters.  

As a detective/youth officer spearheading the juvenile division of a police department, my interaction with the youth enabled me to develop a keen understanding on how to address their challenges. To this day, I still get contacted from past students that I have helped.

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As an attorney of over 20 years, I bring a diverse experience in criminal, civil litigation, family law, and education law to the bench. I am the past president of the Westchester County Bar Association and the Yorktown Bar Association. This experience enables me to understand the issues that both the courts and attorneys encounter. 

As an active member of this community, I have transitioned the court into a valuable resource for the town. Partnering with the Alliance for Safe Kids to start the Youth Court has produced many young, good citizens in our community, teaching the students all aspects of the legal system and allowing them to hear real cases. 

Our intern programs enable students to be hands on and active in the process of how the court works. This program has even produced new lawyers. Our school panel discussions for prom night and the “Save a Life” program have helped stop poor behavior before it can begin. Your court has become more than a place where lawyers argue cases and judges pass sentences. We have become an active member of the community, proactively reducing crime by innovative activities. One teacher recently told me, “If you were more involved in the school, we would have to ask you to join the teacher’s union.”

Before I took office, the court faced many challenges. Traffic and criminal case backlogs were the norm. We rolled up our sleeves, increased the days and hours the judge serves, and began addressing each case. Today, we can tell you that the backlog is gone, our case load is under control and our management system will keep it that way.

This is a busy court, requiring long hours. Judges must be available 24 hours a day to handle arraignments from nine different police agencies. On any given court night, we hear five different court calendars. By reorganizing the court, I have kept costs down, increased efficiency and better served justice. We have an effective team in place and I’m proud of our work.

But we won’t stop there. In the near future, a project we started two years ago will come to fruition. Bringing the services of a Drug Court, Veterans Court and Mental Health Court to Yorktown. Partnering with our judicial district, these courts will better handle the unique issues of drug addiction, and better serve our veterans who find themselves in challenging times. The focus will be on treatment and not punishment.

I have been endorsed by so many great organizations and am humbled by their support: Affiliated Police Association; Corrections Officers Benevolent Association; Yorktown Congress of Teachers; Westchester Putnam Central Labor Body/AFL-CIO; International Brotherhood of Teamsters-Local 456; Westchester County PBA; Building and Construction Trades Council, and their associated member organizations.

I’m proud of how far we have come in eight years. The future for the court is exciting with a consistent goal of serving our wonderful town. Thank you all and God bless.

Aviah Cohen Pierson
(Democratic, Working Families)

My name is Aviah Cohen Pierson and I am running for Yorktown town justice.

My candidacy is supported by my devotion to Yorktown, my professional career and my experiences as the mother of two young children. Throughout my childhood in Yorktown, my parents (Jeffrey and Naomi Cohen) were community leaders who taught me and my brother, Yoni, the importance of giving back and engaging with young people to help make a difference.

Over the years, I have developed a diverse professional career. As a litigator, I have been up against the largest law firms in the country. As a court attorney, I worked with New York Supreme Court judges and mediated foreclosure proceedings. As the attorney for a large medical practice, I am in a top position of senior management, and have several departments reporting to me. I handle hiring and firing and advocate for doctors in and out of court. I also served on the Yorktown Board of Ethics reviewing ethics complaints and making recommendations based on ethics regulations.

As the parent of two children, I am regularly in the schools. I am in the PTA at both of my daughters’ schools and serve as the treasurer of the Brookside PTA. These experiences have provided me with first-hand insights into the dangers facing our youth. My time in the schools has shown me the importance of being present in our schools and engaged with our youth at the earliest stages.

A proactive court can do more. I will bring lessons directly to our children in their classrooms. I will visit them in school before they can appear before me in court. I will deploy additional programs in and out of the court. I will strengthen our community by engaging with faith-based organizations to assist in implementing programs and I will expand community service opportunities.

In addition, I will ensure that drug and veteran court services are brought to Yorktown. While Yorktown does not have and there are no plans to bring a “Drug and Veterans Court” to Yorktown, Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino and the administrative judge for the 9th Judicial District, Alan Scheinkman, have implemented such “hub” courts in Westchester County. I will work with D.A. Scarpino and Judge Scheinkman to ensure that Yorktown is provided with all the resources possible to help combat the drug crisis that continues to plague our town.

It is time for change. There has never been a woman town justice and I believe it is time. To be clear, I am not asking for your vote merely because I am a woman. I am running on my experience and commitment to the town that I love.  However, it is time for a fresh and innovative perspective to tackle the complex issues facing our town. I am ready to roll up my sleeves, make tough and fair decisions and do what is necessary to make our town even stronger than it was when I was growing up here.

I humbly seek your vote on Nov. 7.

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