Tag Archive | "elections"

Southampton Town Supervisor Candidates Argument Focuses on Finances

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By Tessa Raebeck; photography by Michael Heller

Southampton Town Supervisor candidates Anna Throne-Holst and Linda Kabot have faced off in numerous debate and forums throughout town in recent weeks. They sparred again on Thursday, with both parties making allegations that ranged from fiscal irresponsibility to political smear tactics and even deep-rooted corruption.

At the debate, hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons and moderated by Carol Mellor, the candidates were allowed 15 minutes of response time to use at their own discretion, either to answer questions or for rebuttals. Questions were posed by Joe Shaw, executive editor of the Press News Group, Sag Harbor Express editor and publisher Bryan Boyhan and Judy Samuelson of the league, as well as members of the audience, who filled the room at Rogers Memorial Library  in Southampton beyond capacity.

Incumbent Throne-Holst, an Independence Party member cross endorsed by the Democratic and Working Families parties, was elected to the town board as a council member in 2007 and beat Kabot, a Republican also running on the Conservative Party line, in the supervisor’s race in 2009. In her opening statement, Kabot, who served as councilwoman from 2002 to 2007 and as Southampton supervisor from 2008 through 2009, alleged that Throne-Holst falsely claimed that Kabot caused the prior budgetary problems and mismanaged the town. Both candidates agreed that this election is about “the truth” and alleged that their opponent was taking credit for their own successful financial management.

Referring to a debate hosted by the Speonk-Remsenburg Civic Association October 9, Shaw asked Kabot, “you were asked what your qualifications were for supervisor and your answer was that you were married with children and were a homeowner, what did you mean by those remarks?”

Kabot said the phrasing was incorrect and untruthful and noted that no reporters were present at that debate. She referred to similar statements on her website, which states: “As a property owner, I can better represent the majority of taxpayers and voters in Southampton Town. As a married mother of three children, I can provide values-based leadership with deep roots in the community.”

“What I meant by that,” she explained, “was as a homeowner and a taxpayer, my husband and I receive a tax bill and we know what the impact is of increased taxes to our budget and a renter doesn’t receive a tax bill.”

Kabot maintained the person who posed the initial question was a member of the town Democratic Committee.

“They’re the ones writing the letters to the paper to indicate that this is about single mothers or something about somebody’s marital status,” she said. “It has nothing to do with that. That is political spin and it is wrong.”

Throne-Holst responded that the original question was submitted by an unknown member of the audience and asked by a moderator.

“I find it curious that you feel better able to protect people’s taxes as a homeowner,” she said to Kabot. “I will remind everyone that Linda Kabot raised everyone’s taxes by a full 15 percent as supervisor and I have raised them zero.”

“I know that I am a single mother,” continued Throne-Holst, who has four grown children. “I know that as a result of a very painful divorce, I am no longer a homeowner. Maybe someday I will be but now I am not. Sixty percent of our residents live in single households and 40 percent of our residents do not own property and you all have my assurance single mother or married, property owner or not, I represent you equally.”

“Again, someone’s marital status has nothing to do with it,” countered Kabot. “It’s political nonsense being stirred just like the statements are out there that I single-handedly raised taxes 15 percent — this is an untruth.”

Kabot said that corrective tax levies were put forward in 2008, 2009 and 2010 that Throne-Holst voted for as a councilwoman.

“These were the correct things to do,” Kabot said. “And it’s easy to spin it and twist it and distort it but I’m proud of my record as your supervisor of doing the brave and necessary things to do.”

The candidates used a significant portion of their allotted 15 minutes to continue back and forth on Shaw’s question.

“I don’t think you talk about value-based representation because you are married,” said Throne-Holst. “The clear implication is if you are not you do not espouse those values. All I can say is I’ve been your supervisor for four years; you don’t achieve these numbers based on someone else’s work.”

“It’s not about taking credit. It’s not about passing blame. It’s about moving forward,” concluded Kabot.

Boyhan asked the candidates to what degree their administration should prepare for the “continued dramatic and inevitable erosion of our ocean shoreline,” as well as their position on shore-hardening structures.

Throne-Holst said the issue has been at the forefront of her administration and voiced her opposition to shore-hardening structures, which she said help one property while adversely affecting those around it.

“We have taken a hard stance on them in the Town of Southampton, we will not permit them going forward,” she said.

Throne-Holst pointed to her creation of erosion control districts in Sagaponack and Bridgehampton, which allow for oceanfront homeowners to be taxed separately in order to fund a $26 million beach re-nourishment project that is expected to add 60 to 70 feet of beach, adding that she is working with other areas of the town interested in pursuing similar projects.

Kabot also opposes shore-hardening structures. She advocates improved relocation efforts in the event of major storms and said that although the nourishment project is beneficial, “there’s no guarantees that that sand is going to stay in place.”

Her criticisms of the project, she said, have to do with the use of park reserve funds, $1.7 million of which were used to fund the pavilion and public beach access areas of the erosion control districts.

“Those [erosion control district] homeowners are very grateful for the work that has been done in local government to see to it that the beach nourishment has been brought forward and they are contributing very heavily to the supervisor’s reelection campaign,” Kabot alleged.

Samuelson asked an audience member’s question about what obstacles the candidates would remove in order to allow more business and private sector jobs.

Throne-Holst pointed to her creation of an economic development task force in the Riverside/Flanders area, which she said secured a total of almost half a million dollars worth of grants.

“That will probably bring the most amount of jobs to this area when it comes to fruition,” she said.

The supervisor also spoke of the “major job creation possibilities” posed by the Clean Water Coalition, a regional task force she developed, and its “bringing the manufacturing and marketing of those technologies to this area.”

Kabot said she would enact the targeted redevelopment of blighted sites by “incentivizing certain sites so that there would be investment by private developers to allow for the creation of a tax base to create more jobs.”

She is committed to reestablishing a small business office in Town Hall in order to help local business officers get through the regulation process and aims to increase senior and affordable housing, rethink rental laws and review permit standards.

“We have to work at the government level to get out of the way so that businesses can create those jobs,” Kabot said. “We have to simulate business by allowing the government red tape to be lessened and in some cases we need to facilitate their ability to get through the board of health because that is one of the biggest things that holds up a number of businesses.”

“The business advisory group does exactly what Linda’s talking about,” replied Throne-Holst. “They help expedite, they help business owners through the process. So been there, done that already. As far as the Health Department goes, we cannot expedite that. It’s a nice thing to say but we can’t. It’s a county permitting authority, we have actually no control over that.”

“I’m proud of what I’ve done,” the supervisor said in her closing argument. “I love my job, I love serving all of you and I will bring the same level of commitment, enthusiasm and service to this job should I have your vote.”

Kabot concluded the debate, “Together we can take back our town from special interests, restore honesty and integrity and capability to that supervisor’s office and we can bring back the only true independent candidate who cannot be bought.”

The supervisor election will be held on November 5.

North Haven Candidate Roundtable

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Smyth Sannder

Lawrence LaRose

For the first time in years, the Village of North Haven will hold a contested election with three candidates seeking two open spots on the village board: incumbents Jeff Sander and Jim Smyth will run against newcomer Lawrence LaRose. The Sag Harbor Express sat down with the three North Havenites and discussed everything from preservation, to communication and… oh yeah, cell towers.

Sag Harbor Express (SHE): North Haven residents have had a level tax rate for many years now. Is the village in a position to give its residents a tax break, and would that be wise?

Jim Smyth: We haven’t raised the taxes in over four years. We just completed our budget in the last month with no increase and I don’t see anything coming down in the future … Some of the concerns about the village revenue is because of the economy and the lack of building. But comparing North Haven to other communities or towns throughout the country, we’re pretty stable.

Lawrence LaRose: I would agree. It’s wonderful we’ve had a stable tax base for the last four years, but I don’t think we’re in a position to give a tax break at this point, just because of the uncertainties that are in front of us.

Jeff Sander: I kind of agree with Lawrence and Jim. We are fortunate enough to have a surplus in the village. When things get better, and if we had a significant increase in revenues from mortgage taxes and building permits, there might be a possibility, if the surplus increases, to reduce the rate. But right now, because of the uncertainty, which Lawrence mentioned, I think it’s not wise to do that.

SHE: Are there areas where the village should be spending more? And where, if anywhere, should the village cut back?

LaRose: I don’t know if I’d look to spend more at this time. I haven’t heard of a dramatic need to spend more money at this point in time. But there are some areas we can tap into to gain revenue.

I think we have to look hard at the way that our building permits are delivered. If we had a $100,000 decrease in activity, are there ways to create efficiency within that department so that we aren’t spending as much to service those permits, until that bounces back? I would also look to reducing the tennis court fee. If you look at the budget over the last few years, the tennis court fee monies received have gone down by 50 percent. At the same time, we’ve raised the court fee by 100 percent — it’s doubled, which is completely counterintuitive, that we’ve raised less money, charging more.

Sander: I would agree. It’s not wise to try to spend more, and I don’t think we really need to. Each year when we do the budget, we look at opportunities for cut-backs and we look at places where we can reduce some spending. But, a significant amount of our budget is pretty fixed with fire-and-ambulance contracts with the village of Sag Harbor and salaries for the three people we have on staff.

Smyth: Over the years, we project what we need done, we set aside the money, and then once the new budget kicks in, most of the expenditures that the government has have already kind of been allocated. We had a lot of trouble last winter with the rains on Seely Lane and Sunset Lane. I don’t see any great need [to increase spending].

LaRose: I think there are some areas that might warrant a look to save money, not to cut the program or cut the initiative, but to get at a better rate.

Insurance is a big line item on our budget. And it might be worth our time to address that by looking at another kind of health-driven insurance company. Also, in terms of our grounds keeping both at village hall and at the roundabout, could we off-set that with a competitive bid from another vendor with a very discreet, kind of, “thank you” advertisement for a short period of time, and in respect of that marketing placard they would give us a better rate?

Sander: First of all, most of the things that are expensive things on the budget, like grounds maintenance, we do get competitive quotes on. But, the thought about advertising, that may be something that could be interesting to look at.

SHE: Do you think the village is getting its fair share of the Community Preservation Fund (CPF)? Should the village be more aggressive in trying to get CPF money, and are there specific parcels that you would like to target for preservation?

Sander: Whether we get our fair share or not, I’m not sure. But, we certainly have been able to get monies in the past, and I think we’ve done a lot for preservation. But, you know, the big lots, the big parcels in North Haven that could potentially be candidates for development have pretty much all been accounted for.

Smyth: I think we’ve taken advantage of that kind of funding when the situation arises. But, I mean really look and canvas the village, there aren’t many spots left.

LaRose: I think that as a potential board member I would, like Jeff and Jim, pounce on anything we could potentially grab for preservation, if it’s feasible and economically viable.

SHE: What is one issue you think residents most misunderstand about the efforts to enhance cell phone reception in North Haven?

Smyth: Every town, village, everybody has a paper and you have to put public notices in it. And one of the frustrating things is when situations arise and we think we’re doing the right thing by issuing public notices and announcements. We were just going through a process in order to address a concern that some people brought to us, and at no time did we ever have a contract to build the stupid thing. We hadn’t signed any deals, we hadn’t made any offers, we just had a presentation because a presentation is educational. And everybody in the village was more than welcome to be there.

LaRose: I don’t doubt that the village had done the legal minimum to notify people, But, not everyone reads the paper in North Haven. I would like to see the village adopt an opt-in email list, so that everyone can receive either on their computer or cell phone updates on what’s going to be discussed next week or next month at these village meetings so they don’t feel like they’ve been surprised.

Sander: I agree, I think the people I talked to gave the same feedback. I think most people feel like they weren’t aware. It’s a very tough situation. As Jim said, we as well as many governments primarily communicate with the press.

I think the idea of an email list is an excellent one.

So, it’s unfortunate there’s been a lot of miscommunication and we’re going to look at a lot of ways to mitigate that for other issues that come up, and improve getting the word out.

LaRose: I think the issue wasn’t just miscommunication, it was lack of communication. I think we have to do better than just rely on The Sag Harbor Express. I think we still need to get to the residents. A lot of them don’t even live here in January and February, but they should still get an opinion on what goes on. We’re very happy to take their tax revenue, and we should be just as happy to take their opinions.

SHE: What are the most important issues you think the village will have to tackle in the next couple of years?

LaRose: The biggest thing right now is the cell tower, that’s the thing uppermost in people’s minds. I think people were a bit surprised by the fact that the board had one presentation by one company and then they changed the zoning code. There was no discussion with other vendors, with other opportunities.

And I’m very heartened that Jeff has reached out. He wants to get together and talk about the DAS solution and learn more so that he can help inform the board so that we make a very intelligent decision that preserves the North Haven that we know and love and also improves cell phone service for those who need it. And whether that’s a smaller tower, whether that’s a DAS system, or whether that’s a hybrid system will remain to be seen. But, I think the investigative process is uppermost right now.

Sander: The cell tower issue is obviously the one that’s on the table. We wouldn’t even be discussing this if Lawrence came in with all his wisdom, which he put in The Express, two weeks ago and sat down with the board. We’re not experts in cell phone communication. We would have taken that input, which we’re going to do now, and we would have pursued it. It’s unfortunate that we had it communicated in the way it did.

Smyth: To get away from cell towers … one of the things that’s been dear to my heart for many years — because I’ve lived on the water off Mashomuck Drive for 30-some-odd years — is the docks.

Every time there’s an application, every time there’s a house that turns over, they immediately want a dock. And what really ticks me off is they all have this concept that they can use boat lifts.

They’re ruining the vistas that the community has, which are so beautiful.

SHE: What are two to three initiatives that you hope to spearhead?

Jeff: I think the thing about communication has always concerned me, and it’s concerned me in the past, this latest issue has just raised it again.

Jim: No more docks! [laughs] I’m just proud to be a resident and I’m proud to have been on the board, because it’s such a special, special place.

LaRose: I think the communication issue that we discussed is going to be paramount. I’d also like to help on transparency issues. I wanted to catch-up on some board minutes and I had to go down to village hall, I had to fill out a Freedom of Information Act, and I had to tender some money to find out what was going on in my board room when I wasn’t there. If I want to find out what’s going on in Sagaponack, I just go online and all of their minutes are right there for anyone to read. And I think that would be a great service and would be helpful to our residents to help keep them attuned to what’s going on when they’re living here, or when they’re vacationing somewhere else.

Dems Add Bender to Incumbent Mix

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By Claire Walla

On Monday, May 16 members of the Democratic Party of Southampton Town gathered to announce the names of the candidates it would endorse for the 2011-2012 election this November.

Current Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst (Ind.) will seek her second term, and current board member Bridget Fleming (Dem.) who was voted into office mid-election cycle last June, will seek her first full-term in office. Added to the mix will be newcomer Brad Bender (Ind.) who has his sights on the third seat that will open up on the board.

Nancy Graboski (Rep.) has announced she will retire from Southampton Town Council when her term is up in November. So, should Throne-Holst and Fleming maintain hold of their seats, and should Bender secure a seat in his first official foray into town politics, this would shift the dynamics of the now-republican-majority board.

Since being elected to a town board position in 2008, Throne-Holst has made the town’s finances her main focus. Then a board member, she initiated efforts to bring on a forensic audit, which ultimately revealed overspending within the town, which had resulted in multi-million dollar deficits.

Anna Throne-Holst

Throne-Holst, who was elected supervisor in 2009, has called herself a “natural consensus-builder” who is “committed to working transparently.”

Most significantly, she points to her effort to transform Planned Development District (PDD) legislation, a process she referred to in a press release as “easily the most significant planning initiative from a town-wide perspective.”

The supervisor also highlights her efforts to instigate a planning study for County Road 39, and says she remains committed to reevaluating the current system for evaluating tax assessments, a process that, she noted, could save tax payers money in the long run.

Overall, Throne-Holst highlights her “determination to put public service over politics,” which has “fueled her many accomplishments and won her public praise, despite being a minority leader on a politically divided town board.”

Bridget Fleming

A Noyac resident who owns a private law practice next to Provisions on Main Street in Sag Harbor, Fleming joined the Southampton Town Board in March of last year, during a special, mid-term election.

“I’m happy to say I feel as though I’ve gotten a lot done in a short time,” she said. “And I’m in the minority, I’m the only Democrat on the board.”

(Though Throne-Holst has garnered support from the Democratic Party, she is a registered Independent.)

Briefly listing what she’s accomplished in the past year, Fleming mentioned four main initiatives: adopting legislation to remove all damaged double utility poles from the town’s roadways, legislation to provide health insurance for volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers, a project called Farm Fresh Foods (which would start-up a farmers market in Riverhead) and her efforts to create a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan for the town.

“What I would like to continue to focus on is three main priorities: economic opportunities for everyone, environmental stewardship, and continued efforts to achieve financial responsibility,” Fleming said.

Brad Bender
Though new to politics at the town-wide level, Brad Bender a resident of Northampton (an area near Riverhead) has been active on the local level for the past five years as a board member, vice president and now president of the Flanders/Riverside/Northampton Community Association.

“We’re kind of a drive-by community,” Bender said. In an effort to build the community’s aesthetic appeal, Bender headed two major beautification projects. With help from the county and the town, he replanted the flowerbeds and restored the flagpole at the traffic circle at the end of Route 24, and recently spearheaded an effort to post “Welcome To” signs throughout the community to orient unknown passersby and give the community a sense of place.

“My whole campaign is to continue to bring open and transparent government to the town of Southampton, in order to protect the small-town, rural feel” he said. “The big thing is to bring responsibility [to the town board].”

Village Races Remain Uncontested – So Far

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By Kathryn G. Menu

With village elections in both Sag Harbor and North Haven slated for June 21, both villages currently are looking at uncontested races, although with just less than two weeks before nominating petitions are due, it is possible a dark horse candidate could enter either race.

Sag Harbor Village previously reported a May 5 deadline for nominating petitions. But on Tuesday Sag Harbor Village Clerk Beth Kamper confirmed that the actual earliest date a candidate can file a petition is May 10. The deadline to file a petition is a week later, on Tuesday, May 17. This is true for North Haven as well.

In Sag Harbor, despite rumors about former village mayor Pierce Hance and former village board candidate Ryan Horn, Jr. throwing their hats into the ring, as of Tuesday afternoon only incumbent mayor Brian Gilbride, trustee Ed Gregory, trustee Tim Culver and village justice Andrea Schiavoni had picked up petitions for re-election under the Sag Harbor Party banner.

Similarly, in North Haven Village, incumbent trustees Jim Smyth and Jeff Sander — on the North Haven Party ticket — are the only candidates to pick up petitions to run for election. There is no mayoral race in that village this year.

In other election news, the East Hampton Town Republican Committee announced this week that it has nominated Jill Massa for Town Assessor and Lisa Rana — the acting village justice in Sag Harbor — for town justice.

The remainder of the Republican Committee nominees will be announced after the May 11 nominating convention. The East Hampton Democratic Committee will convene its nominating convention on May 16.

Thiele Aims to Combat Gas Prices

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced last week that he has co-sponsored two new bills in the state assembly to combat the rising cost of gas on Long Island as prices have soared locally to over $4.50 at some stations.

In the short term, Thiele has introduced legislation that would suspend three different state taxes on motor fuel during the four-day Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends.

The three taxes are an $0.08 cent excise tax, a 4.25 percent sales tax above $2 per gallon and the $0.17 cent petroleum business tax. According to Thiele, these taxes currently cost motorists about $0.34 cents per gallon, which at $5 per galloon could save motorists about $0.38 cents a gallon or about $5.70 on a 15-gallon fill-up.

According to Thiele, New York State currently ranks sixth in the nation for gas prices at an average of $4.07 and is second only to Connecticut on the Northeast.

“The Eastern Long Island economy is highly dependent on tourism and vacation homes,” said Thiele. “Nearly 60 percent of homes east of the Shinnecock Canal are vacation homes. Small businesses in our region generate a disproportionate amount of their revenues during these holiday periods.”

“This legislation would not only make it more affordable to get here, it would make the region more attractive than many other states in the Northeast for vacations,” continued Thiele. “This is a win-win-win for motorists, small business, and the state, which will more than make up for the loss of gas tax revenue through increased sales tax revenue from shopping, restaurants, hotels, and more.”

While the short-term solution is helpful to motorists, Thiele said this week it is imperative the state do more.

“While motorists need short-term relief, in the long run it is imperative the state reduce its dependence on expensive foreign fossil fuels,” he said. “Since the 1970’s, we have pledged action to pursue alternative energy, only to revert back to gas guzzling ways after the crisis has passed. This time must be different.”

The second bill Thiele has introduced would create an “Alternative Fuel Incentive Fund.”

Currently, state sales tax on gasoline is capped so that there is no tax above $2 per gallon. Thiele’s bill would take the state sales tax from  motor and diesel fuel priced between $1 and $2 per gallon and deposit it into a dedicated fund. That fund would then be used towards a personal income tax and corporate franchise tax credit equal to $500 for every hybrid or fuel flexible vehicle purchased. It would also provide a rebate for 30 percent of the cost to install an alternative fueling station or convert an existing gas station to allow for the sale of alternative fuels.

In addition, $30 million would go towards research and development of fuel diversification and energy efficiency and $27 million to provide the travel plazas on the New York State Thruway with fueling stations for alternative fuels.

“Investment in the research and development for alternative energy, creating green jobs, protecting the environment, and reducing dependence on foreign oil would all be enhanced by this fund,” said Thiele.

CR 39 Ceremony Set in Honor of Edwin “Buzz” Schwenk

On Friday, May 6 at 11 a.m. County Road 39 will be named in memory of Southampton businessman Edwin M. “Buzz” Schwenk in a public dedication ceremony organized by Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman.

The ceremony will be held at the intersection of County Road 39 and the northwest corner of David White’s Lane in Southampton.

Schwenk passed away on December 17, 2009 at the age of 86.

A Southampton native, Schwenk was not just a businessman, but an accomplished military officer who took on civic causes during the course of his life. He was involved in the creation of the 1993 Long Island Pine Barrens Protection Act and helped bring about the passage of the Peconic Bay Region Community Preservation Fund.

In November of 2010, Schneiderman introduced legislation to name County Road 39 in Schwenk’s memory. His legislation followed a July veto by then-Governor David Paterson of a measure sponsored by State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and State Senator Ken LaValle. That measure would have renamed 154 acres of state land north of the Francis Gabreski Airport in Westhampton the “Edwin M. Schwenk Memorial Nature Preserve.” The legislation was vetoed because only the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation had jurisdiction to rename the acreage.

In December of 2010, Schneiderman gained unanimous Suffolk County Legislature approval to rename County Road 39 in Schwenk’s memory — a tribute he said was fitting as Schwenk long fought for the expansion of the road.

Dem Throne-Holst to Lead Board of Republicans

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web ATH & Sons

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.

Looks Like Three for Mayor

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With June elections fast approaching, it’s shaping up to be an interesting campaign season as three prospective candidates have tentatively announced their candidacy for the position of Sag Harbor Village Mayor so far. Current mayor Greg Ferraris, whose term is up in June, told The Express in early February he wouldn’t seek re-election. Also up this June are two village trustee seats, including Ed Deyermond’s position. He, too, said he would not seek re-election. Ed Gregory, who holds the other available trustee seat, is undecided.

 According to Ferraris, one of the chief reasons for his decision to not run again was the amount of time he needed to devote to his mayoral responsibilities while also running an accounting business in recent years.

 “The demands on the position have increased over the three years I have been here, and well over the six years that I have served on the village board,” said Ferraris in February. “[Village] issues have become more complex. The demands on the village board from residents have increased.”

 With the mayoral position up for grabs, the village board might witness a little reshuffling as two Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustee members, Tiffany Scarlato and Brian Gilbride, have announced their intentions to run for mayor — although Gilbride says he hasn’t yet made a formal decision. Also throwing his hat into the ring is Jim Henry, a Sag Harbor attorney, author, business consultant and a 2007 Democratic candidate for Southampton Town Supervisor who recently picked up a petition from village hall and has expressed his intention to run for mayor.

 Scarlato has been on the board of trustees for almost six years, and is serving her third term on the board. Scarlato reported that when she first heard Ferraris would not run again, she “begged” him to reconsider, though he remained steadfast in his decision.

 “After I finished begging him, I decided it was a possibility [for me to run for mayor,]” said Scarlato.

 Currently, Scarlato is an assistant town attorney for East Hampton, though she added she doesn’t believe this will present a conflict of interest should she be elected mayor. Prior to becoming a village trustee, Scarlato said she conducted extensive research to make sure her two positions wouldn’t conflict. Of her interest in becoming mayor, Scarlato added that she has the energy to tackle the position, and ample experience in village affairs. Scarlato was also one of the main village officials who pushed to update the current village zoning code.

 Among the chief concerns for the next mayor, Scarlato said the village budget would be at the top of her priority list should she be elected.

 “I think the biggest issue [for the village right now] is fiscal responsibility,” said Scarlato. “I would focus most of my attention on that. The board as a whole has done a good job to pare down the budget and be as fiscally responsible as possible, but it has to be kept up.”

 Also considering a mayoral run is Sag Harbor Village Trustee Brian Gilbride who has been a mainstay on the village board for the past 15 years, and served as deputy mayor for nearly four years.

 “I am still thinking through it, but I am leaning towards saying yes,” said Gilbride of his mayoral candidacy.

 Aside from being a trustee, Gilbride has worked for the village in many different capacities. In 1966, he was hired by the village as an employee of the highway department, which led to a position with the maintenance department. Previously, Gilbride also served as the chief of the village fire department. He feels that his relationship with the village will help him, if he were to become mayor.

 “I worked with a lot of good people [in the village],” he said. “I have an understanding of how the village works, and I look forward to help continuing the way things are going now.”

 Seven years ago, Gilbride left a position with Norsic, the sanitation services company based on Long Island. As a retiree, Gilbride reports he isn’t “the least bit worried” about the amount of hours the village mayor puts into the position. Of the challenges facing the mayor, however, Gilbride reiterated Scarlato’s belief that fiscal and budgetary issues will be the chief issues the village will face in the coming year.

 “Hopefully the zoning code will be put to bed … Things are a little tough with the economy, but we [the village] are very conservative and started planning a year ago,” said Gilbride.

 Although the other prospective candidate, Jim Henry, hasn’t served on the village board, he has run for town office (Henry lost the 2007 supervisor’s race Linda Kabot), and also has business and economic experience. Henry created the Sag Harbor Group, a consulting firm for technology-based businesses. As an author, Henry has written investigative books on economical mismanagement and also pieces for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Nation, among others. 

 No candidates have stepped forward yet for the two trustee seats.

 In Sag Harbor, prospective mayoral and trustee candidates are permitted to submit signed petitions beginning March 31. The elections will be held on June 16.

 Over the bridge, two North Haven Village trustee seats will be open for election in June. The trustees currently holding the positions are Jeff Sander, a Main Street building owner, and Jim Smyth, the owner of The Corner Bar. In addition, two seats on the Sagaponack Village board will also be up for grabs come June. These seats are currently occupied by Alfred Kelman and Joy Seiger. No candidates have yet come forward to announce their intention to run for the positions in either village.

Above: Photos of Trustee Scarlato, Trustee Gilbride and Jim Henry. 

Southampton Town races confirmed

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The results are in, and it’s now official — Sally Pope and Andrea Schiavoni, Democrats both — have won their seats as Southampton Town councilperson and town justice, respectively.

A mandatory machine recount was ordered after election night results left Pope in the lead over Republican incumbent Dan Russo by just 740 votes. Late Friday afternoon, the official results of that recount — which gave Pope an 832 vote margin — were sent to new Southampton Town board member, Sally Pope. Pope said Russo’s lawyer decided not to challenge the results and Pope was declared the winner.

After Election Day, the two candidates also had to await results from town absentee ballots. The official numbers came in on Friday — 12,582 votes for Remsenburg resident Pope and 11,750 for Russo, who resides in East Quogue. Pope earned 11,025 votes from registered Democrats and 1,009 from Independence party voters while Russo had 10,269 votes from Republicans and 1,481 from registered Conservatives. Another 548 votes came in for Pope from The Working Families Party, who endorsed her.

Russo was appointed to the town board earlier this year and replaced the seat vacated by councilwoman Linda Kabot when she was elected supervisor.

Now that she has won, Pope said she is looking forward to the experience of being part of the Southampton Town Board.

“As one of my first tasks, I want to look at how we perform and how we manage with scarcer resources,” Pope said.

As her first duty as an elected official, Pope said she will attend a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new store in Hampton Bays this Saturday, called Geek Hampton.

January 5 will be the first organizational meeting for Pope who says she is busy collecting information for that date.

Schiavoni, a Sag Harbor resident, ran against Westhampton incumbent Republican Tom DeMayo for the town justice position. Earlier this fall, DeMayo challenged Schiavoni to primary races for the Working Families, Independence and Conservative parties endorsement. DeMayo won the Conservative party line, which had previously been given to Schiavoni while Schiavoni took the other two endorsements.

By last Friday, with all the absentee votes counted, Schiavoni led DeMayo by 3,257 votes totaling 13,974 to DeMayo’s 10,717. Of those votes for Schiavoni, 11,733 came from registered Democrats, 1,462 came from Independence voters and 599 from the Working Families party. DeMayo gained 9,392 votes from registered Republicans and 1,325 from Conservative Party voters.

Schiavoni will take her seat on January 1.


Library Board Election Nears, Merrell Withdraws

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Just one week prior to election, incumbent trustee and candidate Susan Merrell threw her support behind the other trustee candidates vying for one of the three open seats on the John Jermain Memorial Library Board of Trustees.

“I realize that it is too late to withdraw my name from the ballot, but I am writing to throw my support behind the remaining candidates for the upcoming election,” wrote Merrell in an email to fellow board members and library director Catherine Creedon on Tuesday morning. “While I am extremely proud to have been one of the first three elected trustees of the John Jermain Memorial Library’s Board — proud to have been chosen, proud of what we accomplished, and proud of what the future holds — I am, in a word, tired.”

Merrell went on to write that while the past three years have been “truly gratifying,” she needed a break from her duties to focus on family and professional commitments over the course of the next year. Merrell added that she does not rule out the possibility of running again in the future, and has no intention of stepping away from fundraising for the library.

“And now, with experienced trustees such as Christiane and Tippy, and ‘new blood’ like Craig, I feel extremely comfortable stepping aside at the end of the current year,” she wrote.

The announcement came just seven days before the Tuesday, September 16 budget vote and trustee election for the John Jermain Memorial Library and just one day before a planned budget and trustee forum at the library, which was held last night, Wednesday, September 10.

Merrell’s departure leaves three candidates — current library board president Christiane Neuville, current trustee Theresa (Tippy) Ameres and newcomer Craig Rhodes — vying for three seats. Despite throwing her support towards the other candidates Merrell’s name will remain on Tuesday’s ballot.

It also marks the second trustee in the last month who has chosen to step aside in the face of mounting commitments elsewhere. Last month, Kate Evarts resigned from the board saying professional commitments will keep her on the West Coast and unable to fulfill her duties here. Last year, Evarts was elected to fill the remainder of Deborah Wilson’s unexpired term with 59 write-in votes.

Evart’s term was due to run through December 2009. Unlike Evarts, Merrell will serve the rest of her term — through the end of this December. Evart’s seat is not one of the three up for grabs with this election.

On Wednesday, Creedon said she was unsure of what the board’s options would be should Merrell be re-elected to the board, despite preferring residents give their votes to the remaining candidates. Creedon said she believed the board could have the same options it has with Evart’s seat. In that case, the board can choose to not act and instead wait until elections are held in September of next year, it can hold a special election 60 days after the September 16 election or appoint a new trustee to fulfill the remaining term. The three seats up for grabs on next week’s ballot are all for three-year terms.

“I loved working with her,” said Creedon of Merrell on Wednesday. “She is vibrant and smart and a real asset for the library. I am thrilled she will be with us the remaining three months.”

Merrell is an author who has worked at a number of publishing houses and is currently in the process of earning her master’s degree in writing. One of the first three members of the board to be elected, rather than appointed, Merrell has chaired the fundraising committee for three years, raising a quarter million dollars — a feat she noted this week was indicative of the generous support the library has received despite the economy.

In addition to the trustee seats up for grabs, Sag Harbor School District residents will also vote on the proposed library budget for the coming fiscal year. This year’s budget is proposed at $989,580, a 9.26 percent increase from last year’s approved spending plan of $905,700. The vote and election will be held from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the John Jermain Memorial Library, 201 Main Street, Sag Harbor. Residents in the Sag Harbor School District who have registered to vote are eligible. 

Photo by R. Odell-Shapiro