Patchogue attorney Patricia K. Romeo has been appointed acting village justice -- the first woman to serve as the municipal judge in the village's 121-year history.
She replaces village justice Christopher P. McGuire, who in a letter last week informed the board of trustees that he is moving and was resigning from his post, effective Jan. 12. Local law requires that a village justice reside in the municipality.
Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri made the appointment with the board's consent. Romeo will earn an annual stipend of $12,000.
"It shows that we're open to diversity," Pontieri said. "Not just about color or nationality, but it's about bringing women into the process."
While the milestone is significant for Romeo, who was sworn in at Monday's meeting, she will hold the position only until March, when the four-year term expires. She confirmed that she plans to run for re-election.
"It's very exciting," she said. "I'm very honored to be selected for this position. And I look forward to the challenges of the position and to be in court."
Romeo is a 32-year Patchogue resident. She has a village-based private practice law firm specializing in family issues and real estate. She earned a degree from Touro Law School in Central Islip in 1995. She also has a master's degree in counseling.
"I wish her the best of luck," trustee William Hilton said. "She's the first woman justice in the village. That's quite an accomplishment."
Other trustees shared that sentiment.
"She is very qualified and will serve the community and grow in the position as well," trustee Gerard Crean said.