At a Jan. 22 public hearing at the Village Hall, nearly a dozen people questioned Liverpool's proposed Local Law No. 1 of 2008, which would rescind the residency requirement for the village justice.
State law allows small villages to have non-residents as justices, said Mayor Marlene Ward, who favors the new ordinance.
More than 60 residents turned out for the hearing.
No vote was taken. Instead, the board of trustees will reconsider the issue at its Feb. 19 meeting.
"Will people from outside the village have our same values?" asked Fourth Street resident Dave Lyons. While he now enjoys carefree late-night walks the village, Lyons wonders if he would lose that sense of security if Liverpool had a non-resident judge.
"It's opening up a Pandora's Box," he said.
Alessio waits in wings
Two people spoke in favor of opening the office to qualified candidates who live outside the village.
"It's difficult to get candidates to run for these positions," said Joe Ostuni Jr., chairman of the village Republican Committee. Village elections are set for June 17 this year, when voters will elect two trustees and a village justice.
The other resident who spoke in favor of eliminating the residency requirement was Richard "Ace" Ward, chairman of the village Zoning Board of Appeals and husband of Mayor Marlene Ward.
The mayor wants to drop the residency requirement so she can appoint acting Village Justice George Alessio to the judgeship. A resident of the town of Salina, Alessio has served for nine years as the acting village justice.
The top job opened up when longtime Judge Herman Harding resigned last month after 36 years of service. At the Jan. 22 meeting, Mayor Ward presented Harding with a plaque recognizing his 36 years on the bench here.
LaValle presents petition
Alessio is also vying for a job as Salina Town Judge. His razor-thin victory in the November election over Salina Councilman Paul Carey has yet to be certified as the ballots are being evaluated in state appellate court.