The very essence of local politics was at hand this last Sunday in North Haven, where the Southampton Democratic Party presented “Summer Sunday, People, Politics and Prose.” At this event, I was able to meet all six of the Democratic candidates up for election on the first Tuesday of November. Most astonishing was the fact that the Republicans, the registered majority of the Town of Southampton, have in fact decided not to offer any candidate to oppose current Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst.
The present Board, controlled by the Republicans, seems content with pulling the levers in Town politics without holding the top position, which they can do as a result of their present majority of three to two on the Town Board. Chris Nuzzi, one of the Republican Board Members, turned down the Republican Party’s request to oppose Supervisor Throne-Holst, and instead chose to finish his four-year term on the Board rather than start a battle with Throne-Holst (who the Republicans demonize every chance they can in the press). As Congressman Bishop wondered out loud to the gathering, “What does this mean?”
The answers. I believe, are the following: 1. Throne-Holst must be popular, 2. She must be effective, 3. The next two years will most likely be difficult ones and she will be the face of tough decisions based upon the new Albany-mandated cap on the increase of property taxes of 2% (Southampton had a 5% cap), which means, in Throne-Holst’s own words, “cuts of around $4-5 million from the 2012 budget.”
Also on hand giving a brief talk was Steve Ballone, the Supervisor of the Town of Babylon and Democratic candidate for Suffolk County Executive. He is running a very well financed campaign, in fact he has nearly $2 million on hand for his campaign and Ballone’s supporters have contributed $1.2 million since the last filing on January 15. These numbers represent record-breaking totals for a Suffolk County Executive race. Congressman Bishop praised. Ballone as “the right man at the right time.” He noted that Ballone’s opponent Angie Carpenter lags well behind in money raised, a telling sign, though Suffolk County has more registered Republicans than Democrats. After his talk, Ballone told me that he looks forward to utilizing his financial skills.
Also present were the two Democratic candidates for the Southampton Town Board, Brad Bender and incumbent Bridget Fleming, who is in fact running her third Town Board campaign in two years, having lost in November 2009 but winning in the special election in 2010 for the vacated Throne-Holst seat (when then-Southampton Board Member Throne-Holst defeated Linda Kabot and became Supervisor). Having had many chances to see the energetic Fleming campaign working hard and giving both concession and victory speeches, I promise that “there is no better campaigner” than Fleming. She is a strong advocate for the environment, bringing jobs into Southampton Town, and ending cronyism in Southampton Town government.
In my opinion, the most important race in terms of tipping the balance of power in Southampton Town may come down to first-time Townwide candidate for the Town Board, Brad Bender. He has spent the last five years with the Flanders, Riverside, and Northampton Community Associations and will need to be ready for this battle. The truth is that this will be the local Democrats’ toughest race.
County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, also up for re-election, spoke briefly about how delighted he is to see political foe Steve Levy retire, and how hopeful he is that Steve Ballone will capture the Suffolk County Executive post. Schneiderman, according to experts such as New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, should win this election.
I also spoke privately with Congressman Bishop about the most recent attacks against him by Randy Altshuler, who has already announced that he will again run for the congressional seat in 2011. Bishop, after I read some of Altshuler’s comments to him, asked the question, “When will Altshuler step up to the plate and actually make his position known instead of hiding behind his ‘Creator of Jobs’ mirage?”
These last two years have seen local governments across the country, as well as state and federal governments, facing tough times. Throwing stones at the glass house is not that hard, but fixing the broken windows with limited funds is part of the art of governing. [/expand]