In what was viewed largely as an upset, East Hampton Village Police sergeant and Sag Harbor Fire Department volunteer Kevin Duchemin earned enough votes to oust fellow fire department volunteer Bruce Stafford from the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees during Tuesday night’s election.
Duchemin captured 224 votes, just behind incumbent Robby Stein — who earned the most votes during Tuesday’s election with 255 ballots in his favor.
Stafford earned 176 votes to come in third place.
Tuesday night at the Brick Kiln Road firehouse, where village elections are held each year, Duchemin supporters crowded the hall, talking excitedly about their candidate’s prospects before village clerk Beth Kamper announced the results around 9:30 p.m. When it was clear Duchemin had earned enough votes to take Stafford’s seat on the board, a small cheer erupted from the crowd.
For Duchemin, who said he spent the day washing his car while the nerves of the day caught up with him, the campaign has been “a learning experience” and full of lessons he will take with him when he becomes a village board member in July.
“I just thank everyone for the support and look forward to working with other board members,” said Duchemin.
Stein, who was supported on Tuesday night by his wife, Alex McNear and her mother, Suzanne, said he was happy to have the support of the community and continue his work on the village board.
“I am happy I get to do more and keep going on the village board,” said Stein. “I think Kevin will have a lot to learn and I hope we can all work as a board. This may be the first year as long as I have been on the village board that there is a divide.”
Stein and Stafford were both incumbents who were endorsed by Mayor Brian Gilbride. Stafford and Duchemin largely disagreed over the way the village should handle its negotiations with the Sag Harbor PBA over a new police contract, which has reached an impasse and is headed to mediation next week. Duchemin was also critical of the village board’s decision to support a passenger ferry service as a pilot program this summer.
For Stafford, Tuesday’s loss was a surprise.
“I thought with all the endorsements we had we would have been fine,” said Stafford on Wednesday morning. “I have to say, [Duchemin] did do his homework. He got a lot of people to vote.”
Stafford said he will try and stay involved in village government, but to what capacity he was unsure.
“I hope the board can work together like the previous boards have,” said Stafford. “I hope the board’s attendance at meetings is the same and that everyone works towards the common goal for what is best for the village.”
“I think this was a popularity vote and Kevin won,” said Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride on Tuesday night, shortly after the results were read. “I was a little surprised, but I have been on this board for a very long time and I look forward to moving on.”
In addition to the formal candidates, former Sag Harbor Mayor Pierce Hance earned five write-in votes, Harbor Committee member and owner of JCP Landscaping Jeff Peters earned two write-in ballots and Alessandra Novak earned one write-in ballot. One voter also wrote in, “No Ferry.”
The Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees will host its reorganizational meeting on Monday, July 2 at noon when Duchemin and Stein will be sworn into office.
In other news, in the uncontested race for mayor and trustee in North Haven there were no surprises. Mayor Laura Nolan earned 65 votes for re-election, trustee Dianne Skilbred earned 68 votes and trustee George Butts earned 69 votes. There were no write-in votes, according to village clerk Georgia Welch.
The North Haven Village Board will hold its reorganizational meeting, as well as its monthly business meeting, on Monday, July 2 at 5 p.m.