Bucking a trend that saw Republicans win in many elections this week, Democratic councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst defeated incumbent Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot in Tuesday’s election for the town’s top spot. Throne-Holst won almost 58 percent of the vote. Her Democratic compatriots, Bridget Fleming and incumbent councilwoman Sally Pope, both failed to nab the two open spots on the town board. Instead, those seats went to Republicans Chris Nuzzi, an incumbent, and newcomer Jim Malone. Nuzzi won the lion’s share of the town council votes with nearly 30 percent, while Malone trailed behind with approximately 25 percent of the vote. Pope captured a little over 23 percent of voter support and Fleming came in last with just over 22 percent.
Late Tuesday evening, Throne-Holst was stationed in front a television at Four Seasons Catering in Southampton. Throne-Holst joined the race as an independent candidate, but was later endorsed by the Democratic committee. On Tuesday, the bustle of the Democratic Party’s election celebration swirled around her but she kept her eyes on News Channel 12 as she linked arms with her three teenage sons — Max, Sebastian and Nick.
Throughout most of the evening, polls showed Throne-Holst was ahead of Kabot and by 11 p.m., it was rumored Kabot would concede on air. A hush fell over the room in the Democratic camp as the television screen flipped to an image of Kabot. The supervisor took the podium at the Republican celebrations in Hampton Bays to admit defeat.
“Although I am saddened by the loss. I am thankful for having the opportunity to serve. Running for office is no easy feat. It has required a focus on the issues and strength of character. I’m so proud of our accomplishments,” said Kabot as she welled with emotion. “We ran a good campaign under difficult circumstances. This door may have shut for me but another will open.”
“You haven’t seen the last of Linda Kabot,” she promised. “You can count on Kabot.”
During a later interview with The Express, Kabot claimed several factors could have swayed voters in the election including a bad economy, the financial turmoil surrounding the town and her recent DWI arrest. Kabot has pleaded not guilty to the DWI charges.
Back in Southampton Village, Throne-Holst said she hadn’t prepared a speech but was “honored and humbled” by her win. Throne-Holst added that in the coming days and weeks she plans to sit down with department heads; she hopes to find ways to avoid the 44 lay-offs proposed in the preliminary 2010 budget.
“Now our job is showing that we can consensus build. My 13-step plan offers a new way of conducting business,” said Throne-Holst. “I think the town is ready for real change and a different culture.”
Throne-Holst also encouraged Pope and Fleming to run for her vacant seat on the town board. A special election will be held 30 to 60 days after Throne-Holst takes office on January 1, 2010. As of Tuesday evening, Fleming wasn’t ready to comment on whether she would run to fill Throne-Holst’s council position.
Fleming thanked all of her supporters and said, “five months ago no one knew who I was and now I had almost 5,000 votes … You probably haven’t seen the last of me.”
Pope reported she is retiring her effort for the empty council seat. Next year the board will have three Republican members — Nuzzi, Malone and Nancy Graboski. Pope said without a team on the board it will be increasingly difficult for another party to effect change in the town.
“We had a great team … [But] I’m disappointed that I won’t have a chance to continue to serve,” said Pope of her loss. “I am disappointed for the town over the conservative win.”
Despite the Republican majority on the board, Councilman Nuzzi believes the council and supervisor will be able to work together on issues.
“One of the people I have a great working relationship with is Anna. Our job is to work across party lines and get the job done. We shouldn’t let party affiliations serve as a wall that can’t be crossed,” remarked Nuzzi on Wednesday. “Yes, we have the majority; but the bottom line is we are going to work together. Ultimately, I think that is what the community wants to see.”
Fleming and Nuzzi earned far greater support in Sag Harbor and the surrounding areas than Pope and Malone. In Sag Harbor, Nuzzi received 82 votes, Fleming had 105 votes, Pope received 90 votes and 61 voters cast their ballot for Malone. In Bay Point and North Haven, Fleming nabbed the most votes with 199. Nuzzi earned 171 votes and Malone won 128 votes. Pope scored 156 votes in this area. Noyac residents also supported Fleming, who lives in the hamlet, and she received 283 votes there with Nuzzi who was slightly ahead with 293 votes. Pope came in third with 237 votes and Malone was last with 228 votes. In Bridgehampton and Sagaponack Fleming took the lead with 334 votes. In this area, Nuzzi earned 245 votes, Pope had 316 votes and Malone came in last with 190 votes.
The Democratic Party faired well in the superintendent of highways race with Alex Gregor earning 55 percent of the vote against John McGann. Incumbent Republican town trustees Jon Semlear, Edward Warner, Jr., Eric Shultz and Frederick Havemeyer were each re-elected. Democratic trustee hopeful Bill Pell nabbed a spot on the board from incumbent Brian Tymann.