Brian Gilbride was elected mayor of Sag Harbor in the village’s first contested election in seven years on Tuesday night, earning almost twice the number of votes as candidates Michael Bromberg and Jim Henry in the race to lead the board of trustees.
Incumbent trustee Ed Gregory and political newcomer Tim Culver were elected to fill the two open trustee seats. Gregory and Gilbride ran on the same ticket, with Culver supporting Gilbride’s candidacy for mayor while canvassing the village just days before the election.
Gilbride, 61, won the mayoral race with 350 votes. He was followed by Bromberg, the village’s zoning board of appeals chairman, who earned 192 votes. Henry, an author and activist, received 169 votes. Sag Harbor’s new mayor is a 15-year member of the board of trustees and a 40-year veteran of the Sag Harbor Fire Department. A native of Sag Harbor, he is currently employed with Emil Norsic and Sons sanitation services.
Culver, 40, received the most votes of any candidate in either the trustee or mayoral races, earning 412 votes in the contest. A land-use and real estate attorney, this is Culver’s first run at elected office.
Gregory, 63, received 340 votes. A board member from 1978 to 1992, he returned to the board in 2003.
Dr. Robby Stein earned 291 votes and real estate agent Jane Holden received 234.
According to Sag Harbor Village Clerk Sandra Schroeder, 731 ballots were cast on Tuesday, with 37 absentee ballots. Two write-in votes were cast, one for Stanley Martin and one for village Superintendent of Public Works Jim Early.
For the last seven years, the village has had uncontested elections, leading to low voter turnout. While this year’s 731 ballots is a marked increase over those turnouts, it is fairly close to the voter turnout seen in previous contested elections. In 2001, 885 ballots were cast, the most in the last 15 years of elections.
Shortly after the results were announced at the Sag Harbor Fire Department headquarters on Brick Kiln Road, Gilbride was surrounded by supporters, members of the board of trustees and mayor Greg Ferraris, who supported Gilbride’s candidacy after deciding not to seek a third term.
“I am thrilled,” said Ferraris. “I think the voters who came out saw what we were able to do as a board. Really, we are a very small village, and I think this board has been realistic about what we can accomplish. This new five-member board is one that I think will be able to move us forward. Tim Culver is obviously a tremendous asset to add to the board of trustees.”
Bromberg, who left the firehouse for a private gathering at his residence, shook Gilbride’s hand and congratulated him on his win.
Henry’s supporters gathered at Bay Burger, just down the street from the firehouse, following the announcement of the results.
“We didn’t have the result we wanted, but we learned something about our community,” said Henry, noting Gilbride has put in many years of service to the village and “in that sense he deserves to be mayor.”
Henry said he believed his candidacy brought a number of issues to the forefront of village discussions, in particular water quality at Havens Beach, and his concerns about the ability of the current village budget to handle projects necessary for the village in years to come.
Henry said the election was also successful in getting out new voters, a victory in itself.
“Sag Harbor is going to take care of itself,” said Henry. “Sag Harbor will be fine. Jim Henry will be fine.”
Henry, who lost a Southampton Supervisor’s race by just 53 votes two years ago, said he plans to remain an active member of the community, but was unsure whether he would continue to seek a political career.
“I will go back to teaching and writing and making a nuisance as a civil rights attorney,” said Henry.
“I would rather have had it this way,” said Gilbride of his win in a contested race. “We have too many village elections where there is no competition. Michael Bromberg and I were cordial through the whole process.”
Gilbride credited the current board of trustees and Mayor Ferraris with his win, noting it was a board that worked well together.
“This was really a team effort,” said Gilbride.
He also gave kudos to Culver.
“I am not a self promoter,” admitted Gilbride. “Tim had great organization behind him and near the end we got supportive of each other.”
Looking at the new board, Gilbride said it was one he believes will work as well together, noting the trustee race presented voters with four qualified candidates who often agreed on a number of issues.
“The trustee race, it was fun,” agreed Culver. “It was kind of what you hope in a local election.”
Announcing that board member Tiffany Scarlato will serve as his deputy mayor, Gilbride said he has yet to decide how he will fill his vacant seat. Gilbride’s seat as a trustee will carry a one-year term.
“I am sure one of the candidates that ran will stand a good chance,” hinted Gilbride, who added he would like the result to ultimately be a full-board decision.
Later in the evening, Gilbride addressed a second crowd at The American Hotel, at an election bash hosted by Ted Conklin attended by a number of village residents and board members.
“This was just a great group of people running for one cause,” said Gilbride. “To do good for the village.”