By Kathryn G. Menu and Claire Walla
The unofficial results are in: Bill Wilkinson, current supervisor of the Town of East Hampton, has nudged his way passed opponent Zachary Cohen, defeating the Democratic challenger by a paper-thin margin, according to lawyers for the East Hampton Town Republican Committee.
“Considering the number of absentee ballots the Democrats had out, I thought it was going to be a tight race,” Vincent Messina, an attorney for the supervisor, continued. “But I’m very, very happy with the results.”
Messina was on the scene in Yaphank Tuesday afternoon while the Suffolk County Board of Elections calculated the final tally.
“I can tell you definitively that Supervisor Wilkinson has won,” Messina stated. Messina said he wasn’t sure what the final count was, but said the number 12 “sounds about right.”
When reached for comment, East Hampton Town Democratic Committee Chairwoman Jeanne Frankl said Cohen has not officially conceded. “The BOE hasn’t decided any matters and I have not yet heard from our lawyers,” she said on Tuesday night.
After Election Day, just 177 votes separated incumbent Republican Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and his challenger Zachary Cohen, who was supported by the Democratic Party. According to Frankl, as of Tuesday morning about 70 challenged ballots had yet to be counted, with Cohen still trailing by just 45 votes.
Earlier in the day she said the Democratic Party team remained “cautiously optimistic” that Cohen could make up the deficit. Frankl added that during the last two weeks, as parties have been holed up at the board of elections headquarters in Yaphank, any time an election district turned in Cohen’s favor, Republican Party members joked, “Not another Sag Harbor.”
Once the board of elections has finished counting absentee ballots in both towns, it will recanvas three-percent of all ballots cast in voting machines on election day to ensure there are no significant errors. Only if they do find errors will the board of elections move forward with a more significant recount, according to board of elections officials.
The official ballot results are expected to be unveiled on Monday, November 28.
Meanwhile, in Southampton Town, a candidate concedes.
After what both candidates called a hard fought, and civil, town council race in Southampton, on Monday afternoon Democratic Party candidate and Independence Party member Brad Bender conceded the election to his Republican opponent Christine Scalera.
Scalera will fill the seat of Republican board member Nancy Graboski, who is retiring, ensuring that a Republican majority will continue on the town board. Democrat Bridget Fleming won re-election earlier this month, and is joined on the board by Republican Chris Nuzzi and Conservative Party member Jim Malone. Incumbent Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, an Independence Party member who ran unopposed this year with support from the Democratic Party, will continue to lead the town board after an unsuccessful write-in campaign by former supervisor, Republican Linda Kabot.
According to Bender, he conceded the race to Scalera Monday afternoon after Suffolk County Board of Elections officials completed its count of about 830 absentee ballots. After election day, Bender trailed Scalera by a mere 85-votes. While Suffolk County Board of Election officials have not released any information regarding the outcome of the absentee ballot count, according to Bender he lost the race by about 113 votes.
“I had a great five-to-ten minute conversation with Christine and we spoke about our continued commitment to our communities in Flanders, Northampton and Riverside,” said Bender on Tuesday morning of his concession. “We made a commitment to work together and move forward to bring much needed economic development to our communities.”
Bender said he plans on remaining active in Southampton Town and would not rule out another run for town council.
“I am passionate about people and this place,” he said.