Incumbent Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride celebrates with granddaughter Kasey after winning a third term as mayor Tuesday night.
By Kathryn G. Menu
Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride was elected to a third, two-year term Tuesday night, narrowly defeating former village clerk Sandra Schroeder by just 11 votes in what has been one of the more contentious political races in recent memory.
Ed Deyermond, a former village mayor and trustee, was easily elected to a two-year term on the village board, as was Ken O’Donnell, a local businessman and newcomer to the political arena.
Gilbride won the mayoral race with a total of 179 votes. Schroeder, a long time village clerk and administrator who entered politics for the first time this year, earned a total of 168 votes. Bruce Tait, a local businessman and chairman of the village’s Harbor Committee, placed third in the four-way mayoral contest with 142 votes, followed by former mayor Pierce Hance, who earned 85 votes Tuesday night.
Deyermond was the frontrunner in the trustee race taking 363 votes, followed by O’Donnell, the owner of Sag Harbor’s La Superica, who captured 336 votes to oust longtime village trustee Ed Gregory from the board.
Gregory, seeking a 13th, non consecutive, term on the village board and running alongside Gilbride with the Sag Harbor Party, earned 240 votes, followed by former village board member Bruce Stafford — voted off the board last year — who finished with 139 votes.
According to village clerk Beth Kamper, 579 voters turned out Tuesday night or handed in absentee ballots out of 1,804 registered voters in Sag Harbor. That comprises roughly 31 percent of the voting populace.
By comparison, during the 2009 mayoral race when Gilbride was first elected into office over zoning board of appeals chairman Michael Bromberg and local attorney and activist Jim Henry, 731 voters cast ballots. In the uncontested mayoral race in 2011, just 63 voters voted.
On Tuesday night, the mood at the Brick Kiln Road fire house was tense as the results were read first for ballots cast that day, giving Gilbride a 12-vote lead over Schroeder, who was able to cut that lead by one vote once the absentee ballots were accounted for.
Gilbride was surrounded by family when his victory was announced including two grandchildren — Tyler and Kasey.
Gilbride first credited Gregory for his many years of service on the village board.
On Wednesday, Gregory said he will remain an active member of the community.
“I will probably stay away for a little while and let the new fellow get his feet wet, but I will be active in what is going on,” he said. “I have always enjoyed being a part of the board and understanding what is going on in the village.”
Stafford declined comment Tuesday night.
“The people in the village spoke,” said Gilbride.
“We will continue to move forward and I am glad this day is over.”
Gilbride also credited the Conservative Party for supporting him in the election, specifically Ed Walsh, Southampton Town Board member and Conservative Party member Jim Malone and Jeremy Brandt, the vice chairman of the Southampton Town Conservative Party who was at the firehouse personally to hear the results.
“We’re thrilled,” said Brandt. “There are not many guys that would take on a municipal union like the PBA during an election year.”
Gilbride has taken the lead in negotiations with Sag Harbor’s Patrolman’s Benevolent Association (PBA), a negotiation that stalled and recently entered binding arbitration. Officers in the department have been working without a contract for two years. One of 12 officers employed in the department alongside Chief Thomas Fabiano left the department last year. His position was not filled in the 2013-2014 budget and a second officer’s position was cut in an effort, Gilbride says, to keep the department’s costs at bay — in particular escalating retirement and medical insurance costs. He has also maintained he believes Sag Harbor Village, at two-square-miles, can fully man its police department with 10 officers and the chief, despite protests from the latter.
“I got a lot of calls today from other elected officials because we kind of got together a few years ago and agreed on certain things and I happen to be the first one out of the box,” said Gilbride, confirming he was talking about the PBA contract negotiation.
“Am I determined and a pretty tough negotiator, I would say I am,” said Gilbride, who added this would be the last term he would seek as mayor. “But I represent the people in the village.”
Schroeder said she expected a much higher turnout.
“I really thought a mayoral race would have brought many more people out tonight,” she said.
“I was surprised at the poor voter turnout,” he said from Newport, Rhode Island, where he flew to Wednesday morning.
“I will keep pushing hard on the issues,” said Tait, noting drainage, storm water runoff and the future of Long Wharf will be issues he follows closely from his position at the helm of the Harbor Committee.
“We split up the opposition to Brian three ways and he has a basic core of supporters,” said Hance, summing up his views on why the election played out like it did.
Hance, a regular attendee and speaker at village board meetings, promised to stay involved and work on issues like drainage on Howard, Spring and Garden streets and police contract negotiations, but said his career in politics was likely over.
“My time has probably passed and I do have other things I need to do,” said Hance on Wednesday.
He added he has hope the addition of Deyermond and O’Donnell to the village board will help create balance and perhaps even a majority voice on the board should they find common ground with another member of the board.
Deyermond and O’Donnell said in separate interviews they are both eager to get to work.
“I am very humbled by the margin of votes in my favor, but now the hard work begins,” said Deyermond Tuesday night. “I am not going to say I am used to it, but I have been there and I have done that and I am looking forward to getting back on the board.
Deyermond said what the addition of himself and O’Donnell does to the village board remains to be seen, but meetings were being scheduled and he looked forward to bringing issues to the table.
“I am very appreciative of the turnout and all the support the residence of Sag Harbor have given me,” said O’Donnell on Wednesday.
O’Donnell added he was excited to see the village board become one made of different people with very different backgrounds.
“I honestly think the village did an awesome job of electing people with varying views, backgrounds and life experiences,” said O’Donnell. “It’s a diverse group, and I think that is great. It will force us all to look at the issues through different lenses. That is the way politics is suppose to be and we will have to get along to move things forward.”