Four candidates vie for Democrats' probate judge nod
Four candidates are running for the Democratic nomination for judge of probate in the Westport-Weston Probate Court.
On July 18, the Democratic Town Committee will choose from among Kieran Costello, a Westport resident and Fairfield lawyer; lawyer David Krauss, a member of the Board of Assessment Appeals; Westport resident Neil Phillips; and lawyer James Powers of Weston.
Kevin O'Grady, who was elected to the probate court in 1999, resigned because of health issues in the spring. The DTC will officially endorse a candidate in the run against the nominee of the Republican Town Committee in the fall.
Powers, 40, has been practicing law for 14 years, with a focus on trusts and estates.
"The job is something I'm very familiar with, not only in my practice as an attorney. I'm also the son of a former probate judge," said Powers, whose mother, Suzanne, was judge of probate in New Milford.
Krauss, 46, has a law practice with offices in Southport and New York City.
He has lived in Westport for 10 years, serves on the Board of Assessment Appeals, and said he wanted to remain civically involved.
"I wanted to continue in public service, but in a different fashion," Krauss said.
Costello, 47, has been practicing law for 22 years and has lived in Westport for 12 years.
"I've probated dozens of estates over the years. In addition to my law practice, I do a lot of volunteer work," he said.
He volunteers at Fairfield Community Services, where he has served on the Board of Directors, the Domestic Violence Crisis Center of Stamford/Norwalk and the YWCA of Greenwich.
Phillips, 46, grew up in New York City and has lived in Westport for more than 25 years. He's been focused on probate cases for the last 17 years.
"I've come to understand the meaning of probate, the purpose, how it works, why it's essential. I also have an interest in mediation and arbitration, and from that I feel it's a good fit for probate. It's the right temperament for dealing with very complex, sensitive family matters and to try and work through that in a less adversarial structure."