By Kathryn G. Menu
The East Hampton Town Board will welcome two new members this January with the election of Democrat Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and Republican candidate Fred Overton during Tuesday’s town elections.
According to unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections, Overton — the town clerk — had the most support with 3,216 votes or 28.2 percent of ballots cast in Tuesday’s town board race. Burke-Gonzalez followed with 3,125 votes, carrying 27.4 percent of the vote. Her running mate, Democrat Job Potter, placed third with 2,764 votes, followed by the lone incumbent in Tuesday’s town board race, Republican Dominick Stanzione, who earned 2,293 votes.
For Overton, who is not affiliated with any party, but ran with the support of the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties, Tuesday’s election to the town board extends his career in public service, which began 50 years ago.
“I ran on my record,” said Overton Wednesday morning. “I have served this community for 50 years, working in the town as assessor and then town clerk for 25 years. People know me. They know I am fair and reasonable and I act with common sense and I think that resonated with people.”
Overton will join a town board made up entirely of Democrats, including Supervisor-elect Larry Cantwell, Burke-Gonzalez and incumbents Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc.
“If I am going to be of any value to the community I have to develop a working relationship with the board,” said Overton. “I have worked with Sylvia and Peter for two years, I am lifelong friends with Larry, so I think I have a head start.”
“It’s been an incredible, incredible journey,” said Burke-Gonzalez Wednesday. “It was a growth experience for me and the support I got from this community was so incredibly rewarding.”
Burke-Gonzalez, a Springs resident and former member of the Springs School Board of Education, credited her family’s involvement in the community for giving her an edge in the race.
“I think people related to the fact that we are working people and this was an opportunity to give a voice to working people,” said Burke-Gonzalez. “On the school board I am also a firm believer in participatory leadership. I don’t have all the answers and I never will. I want to hear what other people think.”
Cantwell, the former East Hampton Village administrator who ran unopposed in his bid for supervisor, said Wednesday the town will face serious challenges in the next two years.
“I am looking forward to working with each one of the new members of the town board,” said Cantwell. “We will invite Fred Overton to be a full participant in all of our decisions. I want him to feel included in what we do. If any of us disagree, I expect we will do it with respect and appreciation of each other’s point of view, but the overall goal will be to do what is right for this community.”
“We have a requirement to address regional issues,” continued Cantwell. “I extend my hand to [Southampton Town Supervisor] Anna Throne-Holst, I extend my hand to [Sag Harbor Mayor] Brian Gilbride and [East Hampton Village Mayor] Paul Rickenbach, and all of the East End mayors and supervisors to do all we can do to preserve the Peconic Estuary, address airport issues and look at transportation.”
In other East Hampton election news, Democrat Steven Tekulsky was successful in his bid for town justice, besting Republican Carl Irace, and Eugene De Pasquale III was re-elected as the town assessor over Republican challenger Joseph Bloecker. In the town trustee race Deborah Klughers, Stephen Lester, Timothy Bock, Stephanie Talmage-Forsberg, Sean McCaffrey, Diane McNally, Nathaniel Miller, Brian Byrnes and Dennis Curles earned election to that board. In uncontested races, Carol Brennan was elected town clerk and Stephen Lynch earned a second term as the town’s superintendent of highways.