Erika Tebbens

Letter to the Editor: Why I’m Running for Village Justice

Our family moved to the Village nearly 8 years ago when my husband Chris was transferred with the Navy. This was his final duty station, and we fell in love with Ballston Spa, so we decided to buy our home and settle down here. We are so glad we did! We love it here and find it’s been a great place to raise our son Jack.

I’ve been involved with, and interested in, public service and government since I was in high school. I still get excited thinking about the first time I could vote, and my son has come with me to vote his entire life. We are so fortunate to live in a time and place where we get a say in our government.

My interest for holding public office was sparked in January of last year when I got a unique opportunity to testify before the House Subcommittee on Agriculture & Nutrition. I was there with a non-profit organization that deals with hunger issues to tell my story about being part of a military family that had received food assistance while pregnant. Our goal was to shine a light on the silent shame of military food insecurity issues, and hopefully make some real progress in that area. It was a powerful and memorable moment for me, and I am still working to bring about changes on the matter.

In December, several friends from different corners of my life told me they thought I should run for office, and that I’d do well at it. When I realized the position of Village Justice was up for election, and that a friend wanted to nominate me, I was humbled and gladly said, “Yes.”

I want to be Village Justice because I am someone who firmly believes you should put action behind your words, and that people who have the means to serve their community, should. Village Justice isn’t a position that often gets talked about, but it’s an important one to the balance of our local government. In fact, what I hear most often when I tell people I’m running is, “What does the Justice do?” and “Don’t you need to be a lawyer to do that?”

The Village Justice presides over criminal, civil, small claims, parking, and vehicle and traffic cases that occur in the Village. In New York State one does not need to be an attorney to serve as justice. In fact, the majority of village and town justices are not attorneys, and receive special training once elected. Neither myself, nor my opponent, are attorneys, but I have many qualifications that make me well-suited for the job.

I have a long history of leadership, management, and running successful businesses. I have run a very successful retail business from my home for over 3 and a half years. I run training events for women in my industry, and have been asked to speak at leadership events on multiple occasions.

Before we moved to the area, I ran the 5th highest volume Calvin Klein store in the country, with an average of $6 million in annual sales. I managed a staff of nearly 50 people, was promoted 3 times in 3 years, was responsible for the oversight of all managerial training for our west coast stores, and won several awards for high performance.

I also believe in the power of mentoring and giving back to your local community. Three years ago I founded the first and only local chapter of Girl Talk, Inc. Girl Talk is an international peer-to-peer mentoring organization for middle and high school girls. I remain the chapter advisor and consider it a true privilege to serve as a mentor to young women in our community.

As the wife of a veteran I have a unique understanding of some of the challenges our local service members and their families face. Because of our close proximity to the Kesselring site, the village is home to both single and married sailors. These individuals and families are an important part of our community, and I am sensitive to their unique challenges.

Most importantly, I am trustworthy, fair, and honest. I have been entrusted with enormous amounts of responsibility in both my professional and volunteer lives, and succeeded time and again at both. I feel grateful so many people over the years have trusted me to run their businesses well, and mentor their children appropriately. I am confident that my track record of proven success will carry over into my role as Village Justice.

The demographics of this amazing village are changing. Within that change I believe it is important for the makeup of government to change as well, to reflect the community it serves. I am proud to be the reflection of what I see in my neighbors as a woman, a mom, a veteran’s wife, and someone who will work hard for the place she calls “home.”

I want to be your next Village Justice and hope you’ll vote for me on March 21.

Erika Tebbens
Ballston Spa

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