Tabak and Chesley vie for Guilderland judgeship

GUILDERLAND — Two lawyers are facing off in the November election to become one of three Guilderland town justices.

Stephen Chesley is running on the Republican and Conservative party lines while Margaret Tabak is running on the Democratic and Working Family party lines.

Chesley has been representing clients in town courts across the area and the state throughout his career, which means he would bring not just education, but experience, to the position of town justice, he told The Enterprise when he was running for Guilderland town justice in 2019. 

He works as in-house counsel to Amtrust Financial and was formerly a partner at Sullivan, Keenan, Oliver & Violando, LLP.

Chesley attended New York University for his undergraduate degree and then graduated from New York Law School. He has experience in many of the issues a town justice needs to handle, he said, including criminal law, landlord-tenant issues, and small-claims cases. 

About treating equally all the people who would come before him in court, Chesley said in 2019, “I think somebody’s background is completely irrelevant.” 

He added, “Justice is blind. That’s what we’re taught, and anyone who can’t put that into practice has no business being on the bench.” 

Chesley’s judicial philosophy centers on impartiality, he said. Anyone who appears before him must feel that he or she is starting with a clean slate and that the facts are being looked at without any bias at all, he said.


Margaret Tabak has been practicing law since being admitted to the bar in 1988 after graduating from Albany Law School; she ran for Albany Family Court judge in 2019.

 She previously ran her own firm, and then went into a partnership, Tabak and Kiosse, LLP, focused on matrimonial and family law.

Tabak in 2019 described herself as passionate about her work, which has included a great deal of pro bono work, and as a strong advocate for her clients, but “not somebody who loses her cool easily.”

Her work involves looking at all sides of a situation and advising clients accordingly, she told The Enterprise, and her ability to take a larger view would help her on the bench. 

Tabak’s judicial philosophy, she said, centers on knowing the law and being able to use it; being prepared and efficient; and being compassionate.

Tabak has been on the board of the Albany County and Schenectady County bar associations and is past president of the Capital District Women’s Bar Association. She is a member, she said in 2019, of the “small but mighty” B’nai Shalom Reformed Congregation in Albany.

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