Former Sag Harbor Village Attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr., who also has been the South Fork’s assemblyman since 1995, will return to the village’s legal team as the attorney for the Harbor Committee. He will replace Denise Schoen, who also has been serving as village attorney for the mayor and Village Board of Trustees since July, replacing David J. Gilmartin Jr.
Mr. Thiele, 66, a Sag Harbor native, filled the post of village attorney himself from 2009 to 2016, when he abruptly stepped down. Discussions at the time about hiring a new attorney to cover the Planning Board and Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board played a role in Mr. Thiele’s decision.
“I am delighted that Fred Thiele will be coming back to the village as the Harbor Committee attorney,” Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy wrote in a statement. “His deep knowledge of the water quality issues that we face daily is matched only by his passion and love for Sag Harbor itself. I believe with Fred as the ‘third leg’ of our stellar legal stool (Denise Schoen and Elizabeth Vail), the village boards are stronger than ever and ready to face the future of Sag Harbor.”
In a phone interview Thursday, Mr. Thiele said that he had been approached by the mayor, who was elected in June, to consider returning to the village’s legal team. “I said I couldn’t be the village attorney but was excited about her new administration,” he said. “I lived in the village, wanted to help and said I’d be interested in doing one of the other boards.”
He said he was looking forward to the work and had begun reviewing pending applications that will come up at his first meeting of the Harbor Committee on September 9.
With a full three-person legal staff, Ms. Schoen — who interned for Mr. Thiele when he was a county legislator — will continue to advise the Planning Board and oversee justice court prosecutions. Staff attorney Elizabeth Vail is advising the Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals.
A 1971 graduate of Pierson High School, Mr. Thiele graduated summa cum laude from Southampton College in 1976 with a BA in political science and obtained his law degree from Albany Law School in 1979. He was admitted to the state bar in 1980.
An Independence Party member who caucuses with Assembly Democrats, Mr. Thiele, a former Republican, worked for GOP Assemblyman John L. Behan of Montauk in the early 1980s; served as town attorney for Southampton Town and the East Hampton Town Planning Board; and won election as a Republican to the County Legislature in 1987, serving four years — and caucusing with the panel’s Democrats — until his election on the independent Southampton Party line as Southampton Town supervisor. In 1995, he ran as a Republican in a special election for Mr. Behan’s Assembly seat and has held it ever since. He formally switched to the Independence Party in 2009.