Republican, Conservative and Independence candidate Bill Wilkinson handily defeated Democratic and Working Families Party candidate Ben Zwirn Tuesday night in a GOP sweep of East Hampton’s town board race.
According to unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections, Wilkinson earned 67 percent of the votes cast in East Hampton, with 4,587. Zwirn captured just 2,286 votes, or 33 percent of the vote, giving Wilkinson a clear mandate of support with a 2-to-1 margin of victory.
In the supervisor’s race alone, 6,873 ballots were cast of 15,894 registered voters. That represents the highest percentage of ballots in any of the town races, with 43 percent of East Hampton residents turning out to have their voices heard in the supervisor’s contest.
In Sag Harbor, voters preferred Democratic challenger Zwirn, although by a small margin. Zwirn captured 165 votes in Sag Harbor’s lone East Hampton voting district to Wilkinson’s 144.
It was just before 10 p.m. that Zwirn conceded to Wilkinson, with just two election districts in the town reporting results at that time. By that point, Wilkinson already held a 2-to-1 lead over Zwirn.
After his concession, Zwirn stopped by Republican headquarters at Indian Wells Tavern in Amagansett to shake Wilkinson’s hand in congratulations.
Republicans were also victorious in the race for town council. Similar to the supervisor’s contest, no candidate in the town council race was an incumbent with current board member Pat Mansir choosing not to run for re-election and board member Brad Loewen failing to get support from the Democratic Party to seek another term.
Wilkinson’s running mates, Theresa Quigley and Dominick Stanzione bested Democratic opponents John Whelan and Patti Leber, with Quigley earning the most votes – 4,057 or 31 percent of the vote. Stanzione followed with 3,590 or 28 percent of the vote to earn a seat on the town board, with Whelan earning just 2,834 or 22 percent of the vote and Leber garnering 19 percent of the vote with 2,481.
Similar to the supervisor race, voters on the East Hampton side of Sag Harbor preferred the Democratic candidates to the Republican victors. Whelan scored the most votes in Sag Harbor with 179, followed by Leber who earned 149. Quigley gathered 137 votes out of the district with Stanzione earning 121.
Results for Prudence Carabine, a candidate who pursued a vigorous write-in campaign for town board, will be unavailable until the Suffolk County Board of Elections certifies its results.
“I was hopeful we would be successful because we ran, I thought, such an above the board campaign and in no way responded to what I thought was an unattractive campaign ran by our opponents,” said Wilkinson on Wednesday morning. “This is an outstanding endorsement from the residents of our town.”
Wilkinson said his first plans include setting up a transition team. The Republicans will walk onto the town board in January with an instant majority, which Wilkinson said was a priority moving through the election season.
With a deficit he predicts will reach as high as $28 million by the close of the fiscal year, a supervisor that has resigned under the cloud of fiscal mismanagement and a budget process seemingly stalled by disagreements within the current town board, Wilkinson said the priority will be to hit the ground running with a plan on how to deal specifically with the growing deficit. He said he plans to tap people like Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman and state assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and state senator Kenneth P. LaValle, to aid in the transition and offer the new team guidance moving forward.
“They are the two who will have to shepherd any potentially new deficit financing plan coming out the state,” said Wilkinson of Thiele and LaValle. The state has already provided the town with $15 million in deficit financing, but Wilkinson predicts much more will be needed to get through the town’s fiscal crisis and added going back to the state a third time will be out of the question, so it is tantamount the new board gets a handle on how deep this deficit will ultimately run.
“If we can get the deficit financing straight, we can then start working on the things necessary to support the kind of payments we will need to make on such a loan,” said Wilkinson.
On his first day in office, Wilkinson said his first priority will be to meet with department heads in order to fully assess the town’s needs.
Republican’s also swept the town trustee race with John Gosman, Jr. – who was endorsed by both parties – earning the most votes at 5,386. Stephanie Talmage, Timothy Bock, Kayla Talmage, Diane McNally, William Mott, Edward Norman, Jr., Joseph Bloecker and Lynn Mendelman were also elected to trustee seats.
Closer races were waged between superintendent of highway candidates and in the town justice race. Democrat Scott King squeaked out a victory against Republican Tom Talmage earning 53 percent of the vote to keep his job as highway superintendent. Democrat Catherine Cahill also kept her seat as a town justice, besting Republican Andy Hammer by also earning just 53 percent of the vote.
Town clerk Fred Overton, who was running unopposed, was also re-elected to his post as was town assessor Eugene De Pasquale.