Those who went to the polls to vote on Election Day will have to wait for the results of those who voted by absentee ballot to find out who will be running the Town Halls in both East Hampton and Southampton. In each town there was a race “to close to call,” the outcome of which will determine whether there will be a Democratic Party or a Republican Party majority come January 1.
Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst (D-I) was re-elected easily with over 63% of the vote. (All election figures in this article are from the Suffolk County Board of Elections website as of November 13.) The surprise here is that former Supervisor Linda Kabot garnered over 36% of the vote on write-ins without any major-party support. In the Southampton council race, Democratic incumbent Bridget Fleming received the largest amount of votes (5,828) to win re-election. But the intrigue in this race lies in the total votes received by Republican Christine P. Scalera (5,342) and Democrat Bradley Bender (5,257) with Scalera leading by only 85 votes, and with over 800 absentee ballots still to be counted.
Predictions for the outcome vary. In an e-mail, Republican incumbent Councilman Chris Nuzzi said, “It’s close, but I think it holds up.” Meaning Scalera will win and the Republicans will remain in control of Southampton Town with a 3-2 majority on the Town Board. However, Southampton Town Democratic Party Chairman Gordon Herr sees it differently, and said, “We are cautiously optimistic that Brad will win.” Reported estimates of the party breakdown of the absentee ballots are 290 for the Democrats and 320 for the Republicans, with 150 with no party affiliation and 40 in the category of “Other.” On election night Herr said the results of the absentee vote count should be known by November 22, “two weeks after Election Day.”
The Town of East Hampton brings the drama up to a higher level, because not only is control of the East Hampton Town Board undecided, but so is the position of Town Supervisor. Incumbent Supervisor Republican Bill Wilkinson received 3,066 votes on election night, whereas Democratic challenger Zachary Cohen received 2,889, a difference of 177 votes. However, there are 784 absentee ballots still to be counted. Democratic Chairwoman Jeanne Frankl wrote in an e-mail: “Democrats are pleased and proud that the voters elected our two fine and eminently qualified council candidates, Peter Van Scoyoc and Sylvia Overby. Based on the count of absentee ballots cast, we are hopeful that Zach Cohen has been elected Supervisor and that we will have a majority on the Board. The election results, and particularly the closeness of the Supervisor race, bespeak the voters’ interest in a well managed, fiscally sound government with a broader and more community friendly perspective than we have seen in the last two years.”
I attended the first East Hampton Town Board Meeting after Election Day, and judging by Supervisor Wilkinson’s demeanor, he seemed confident he would prevail. East Hampton Republican Chairwoman Trace Duryea did not respond to an e-mail request on the absentee issue. With the Democrats already winning two town board seats, the outcome of the East Hampton Supervisor’s race will determine who controls the town’s government on January 1.
The November 8 elections were a huge win for the Suffolk County Democratic Party. Democrat Steve Bellone won the coveted County Executive race easily over Angie Carpenter with 56.56% of the vote. Through the efforts of Suffolk County Democratic Party Chairman Rich Schaffer, the Democrats won 15 of the 17 County Legislature elections and are leading in one race, where again absentee ballots still need to be counted. In District 2, Jay Schneiderman (D-I) won handily, receiving 65.66% of the vote, and in District 1, Ed Romaine, the lone Republican incumbent, won easily, with a truly amazing 78.47% of the vote.
Countywide, with the results of the East Hampton Supervisor race still in doubt, the Democrats won the Supervisor’s races in only two of the eight Towns of Suffolk County.
Scott Russell won easily in Southold, and incumbent Republican Sean Walter took the win in Riverhead. Both are popular and competent. On Shelter Island, Conservative Glenn Waddington won a three-man race with 43.7% of the votes.
Those results make the East Hampton race more difficult to understand. My only guess is that Wilkinson’s style of leadership did not enthuse voters as much as his résumé and message did in the 2010 election when he received well over 60% of the vote.