The job of town justice in East Hampton isn’t for the faint of heart. The local court is one of the busiest in New York State.
Nevertheless, Andrew Strong, the general counsel to the Organización Latino-Americana, thinks he can handle the load with aplomb.
“I’ve lived here fulltime since 2012,” he said. “It’s so unlike anywhere else I’ve ever seen. I feel inspired.”
Strong has to get by Lisa Rana, a three-term incumbent running for a fourth four-year term. The two will square off in the Democratic Primary June 25, when Rana challenges for Strong’s spot on that ticket. Rana, a Republican, had previously been cross-endorsed.
Win or lose, the two will do it again on Election Day because Rana has the Republican and Conservative Party endorsements. She may be on a proposed Fusion Ticket as well.
Strong was recently hired as an advocate for immigrant civil rights by OLA. He is a human rights attorney by trade and practiced in The Hague. He has also worked for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
The current justice court handles a huge amount of planning and zoning cases, and Strong said he is ready to jump in. “I worked for Rick Whalen and that’s all he does,” Strong said of the former assistant town attorney, who rewrote the town’ s zoning code and advised the planning board and ZBA.
Strong said he thinks for the most part the local courts handle the large influx of Latinos well, with some reservations. “It’s pretty cool we have an interpreter in the courts,” he said, adding that he senses defendants have a “base level of fear” that intensifies because of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
“It’s all part of the Americana integration,” he said. “The town depends on this population. They need to understand the system.”
Strong is a graduate of Middlebury College and Northwestern University’s law school.
He met his wife, Rachael Faraone, of Sag Harbor, at Middlebury 16 years ago. The couple have three young children and live in Springs.
Strong, who once represented the prime minister of Kosovo in a war crimes trial, said he is up to the challenge of serving on the town court. “I’m ready for the trenches,” he said.
Rana Seeks Fourth Term
East Hampton Town Justice Lisa Rana, who was born and raised in Amagansett and has served on the bench for 12 years, is seeking her fourth four-year term.
Rana went to East Hampton High School for two years and graduated from the Buxton School in Williamstown, MA, before going on to Hampshire College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology. She holds a law degree from Touro Law Center.
Manny Vilar, the East Hampton Town Republican Party leader, called Rana an “absolute asset” to the town. “She has always given so much to so many, whether they have been here for generations, or have just arrived in town,” he said.