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Jul 8, 2019 4:05 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Veteran Jilnicki Takes Over As East Hampton Town Attorney

East Hampton Town Attorney John Jilnicki Michael Wright Michael Wright
Jul 9, 2019 10:51 AM

After nearly 30 years in the East Hampton Town attorney’s office, including several short stints as acting town attorney, John Jilnicki officially took over the top legal role at Town Hall this month.

Mr. Jilnicki was an assistant town attorney through seven administrations, a dozen town attorneys and a world of change in the legal offices for the town before officially succeeding Michael Sendlenski, who resigned in May.

He has been acting town attorney five times in the wake of departures of predecessors, but had never sought appointment until now.

“I was ready to do it,” he said. “I enjoy doing the job, I always have, so I was happy to be considered.”

Mr. Jilnicki, 61, a native of Nassau County, moved to East Hampton in 1987 to take a job as an assistant town attorney at East Hampton Town Hall under then-Town Attorney Ed Reale. Other than two years during Cathy Lester’s administration, when he worked in private practice, he has been the one constant behind the town’s legal desk.

“We were in that old office in the back corner of Town Hall then—four of us crammed in there,” he recalled. “There were three attorneys when I started, the town attorney and two assistants—me and Rick Whalen—and one secretary.”

He observed that even with five full-time attorneys and two paralegals now, the attorneys offices are far busier today than they were in the 1980s and 1990s.

“It’s a lot busier than it used to be,” Mr. Jilnicki said. “When I first started most of our litigation was handled by outside counsel. Now most of the Article 78s with the Planning Board and [Zoning Board of Appeals] are handled in house.”

The town attorney’s post comes with a salary of $122,000 for 2019.

With Mr. Jilnicki officially ascending to the town attorney post, the town has started advertising an open position for a new assistant town attorney to join the town’s legal team.

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