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Lori Hulse resigns from school board to take oath as Riverhead Town justice

Former school board member Lori Hulse takes the oath of office Jan. 1 as the second female town justice in Riverhead history. The oath was administered by her mother, Marion Hulse. Photo: Denise Civiletti

The Riverhead Town Justice Court’s gain is the Riverhead school board’s loss.

Newly elected Town Justice Lori Hulse resigned her seat on the Riverhead Board of Education, prior to taking office today as town justice.

Hulse, who was elected to the school board in May 2014 after an eight-year hiatus — she previously served on the board from 2000 to 2006, including four years as its president — said she regretted having to resign from the board to take her seat on the bench, but did so in accordance with an opinion from the N.Y. State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics.

“I wrote to the committee to request an opinion on whether I could still serve on the school board,” Hulse said today, after taking the oath of office during a ceremony at Riverhead Town Hall. She said the committee said her role as a school board member could require her to become involved in political issues that are off-limits to a sitting member of the bench under the strict rules of judicial conduct promulgated by the N.Y. State Office of Court Administration.

Hulse’s resignation leaves vacant one seat on the Riverhead Central School District’s seven-person board of education. Her term of office expires in June 2017.

According to the adopted policy of the Riverhead Central School District (number 2150) the school board can either vote to appoint someone to fill the vacancy or vote to call a special election to fill it.

Hulse said today she met with Riverhead Schools Superintendent Nancy Carney to discuss her resignation — and make suggestions about who she’d like to see tapped to fill the seat, a volunteer position.

Riverhead justices Lori Hulse and Allen Smith. Photo: Denise Civiletti
Riverhead justices Lori Hulse and Allen Smith. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Hulse is the first sitting school board member to be elected town justice in Riverhead, but she isn’t the first former school board member to serve on the bench.

Justice Allen Smith is also a former trustee of the Riverhead Central School District. He said today he believes he is the first former school board member to be elected judge.

With Hulse’s elevation to the bench, it is the first time both town judges are former school board members, Smith said.

Hulse is only the second woman ever to serve as town justice. Syrena Stackpole was elected Riverhead Justice of the Peace in 1931. Stackpole, the first woman to hold elective office of any kind in the Town of Riverhead, was also the first female lawyer in Suffolk County.

Hulse resigned last month from her position as an assistant town attorney in Southold. She pledged during the campaign to work full-time for the town court.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website. Email Denise.