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Nov 6, 2013 11:21 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Trustee Incumbents, Two Newcomers, Win Seats; Gregor Cruises To Victory

Nov 6, 2013 12:18 PM

All three incumbents and two newcomers declared victory in the Southampton Town Trustees race late Tuesday night, though two challengers have yet to concede the race for the fifth and final seat on the board.

Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor, meanwhile, cruised to victory in his first reelection campaign, defeating Republican challenger David Betts by winning nearly 62 percent of ballots cast on Election Day.

Mr. Gregor, an Independence Party member, was not with Town Democrats and Independence Party members at 230 Elm in Southampton on Tuesday night and did not immediately return calls on Wednesday morning. He was elected to a four-year term.

Incumbents Bill Pell, Eric Shultz and Ed Warner Jr. were the top vote-getters in the Town Trustees race, with Mr. Pell, an Independence Party member, receiving 8,933 votes, Mr. Shultz, a Democrat, getting 8,746 votes and Mr. Warner, a Republican, receiving 7,161 votes. Also securing a seat on Tuesday was Republican challenger Scott Horowitz, who finished with 6,399 votes, the fourth-highest total. All will serve two-year terms.

Republican Ray Overton, who finished with 5,436 votes, declared victory Tuesday night even though the other two challengers vying for the same seat—Democrats Howard Pickerell Jr. and John Bouvier—have yet to concede the race due to the more than 800 absentee ballots that must still be counted by the Board of Elections. Mr. Pickerell received 5,163 votes, while Mr. Bouvier finished with 4,953 votes, according to unofficial results posted by the Suffolk County Board of Elections.

“I haven’t spoken to anybody, haven’t heard anything,” said Mr. Pickerell, a longtime bayman, on Wednesday morning. “I guess we’ll just wait and see right now, wait for the absentee votes to be counted, but we’re definitely not conceding the race at this point.”

At Villa Tuscano in Hampton Bays, where the Town Republicans and their supporters gathered Tuesday night, Mr. Overton declared victory at around 11:30 p.m. While addressing supporters, Mr. Overton said he is confident that he’ll be declared the winner, explaining that GOP Chairman Bill Wright told him that Republicans traditionally do well in absentee voting.

“I’m a little tired, but I’d like to congratulate the other candidates on a great campaign,” Mr. Overton said. “I’m very happy that I have an opportunity to make a difference over the next two years and, hopefully, beyond.”

Mr. Horowitz, a two-term member of the Southampton Town Conservation Board, was even-keeled throughout the evening as the election results trickled in. Tuesday marked his second bid for the office; he came up short two years ago.

“I feel good. I’m exactly where I thought I’d be, moving off the Conservation Board up to a Trustee, joining the incumbents in serving the freeholders,” Mr. Horowitz said. “It’s where I should be—with the incumbents.”

Looking forward, both the incumbents and newly elected Trustees said one of their immediate goals would be to improve their working relationship with the Southampton Town Board. The Trustees have banged heads in recent months with the board, most notably Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst who won reelection Tuesday, primarily regarding funding issues and the qualifications of the Trustees in addressing environmental issues.

“I look forward to a good, positive relationship moving forward with the new Town Board,” said Mr. Warner, referring to Tuesday election of Republican Stan Glinka and Independence Party member Brad Bender. They will replace Republican Chris Nuzzi, who was barred from seeking reelection due to term limits and made an unsuccessful bid to unseat Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, and Conservative Party member James Malone, who opted not to seek reelection.

“Hopefully, we can bury the hatchet,” Mr. Warner added.

Mr. Gregor cruised to a win in his first reelection campaign, receiving 7,259 votes, or almost 61.9 percent of ballots cast, while Mr. Betts finished with 4,470 votes, or 38.1 percent of the vote.

“I’m very happy with the results, and I thank the voters who came out and voted,” Mr. Gregor said Wednesday morning. “It’s sort of a vindication from some of the bull manure that my opponent and the Town Board were saying through the campaign. The people know bull manure when they smell it.

“I have a simple message for the Town Board,” he added, “I don’t care if you like me or not—I was elected, and I’m going to continue working for the people of this town ... Let’s end the politics, let’s make this town a better place for everybody ... The public is sick and tired of nothing getting done.”

He added, “My other message to the candidates: Please get your junk off the side of the roads now—the election’s over.”

Mr. Betts, the chief investigator in town’s code enforcement office, said he thought he would have fared better in his first bid for public office.

“I’m a little surprised because of the positive feedback I’ve received,” Mr. Betts said. “I didn’t run a negative campaign, which I could have. It could’ve went that way, but I chose to stay above all that.

“It’s difficult to unseat an incumbent,” he continued. “I guess it’s just the way it goes.”

In Tuesday’s uncontested races, Southampton Town Justices Deborah Kooperstein and Barbara Wilson retained their seats on the bench, and both will serve another four years. Ms. Wilson received 10,677 votes, while Ms. Kooperstein received 10,585 votes. And incumbent Town Clerk Sundy Schermeyer, who was also unchallenged, received 10,807 votes and will serve another four-year term.

Additionally, town voters rejected a proposition that would have granted an easement swap to a homeowner in The Pines subdivision of the Southampton Pines development in East Quogue. The measure failed 57 percent to 43 percent, or 5,503 votes to 4,154 votes.

The proposal had asked voters to allow a homeowner to place a scenic and slope easement, which restricts development, over an undeveloped portion of the individual’s land in exchange for doing away with similar easements on another part of the property in place since the 1990s. A house and swimming pool were built in that easement due to errors by both surveyors and the town’s Building Department. The mistakes were not discovered until the current owner, Raymond Uriarte, conducted a new survey while looking to sell the property.

“We are evaluating the options on behalf of the title company,” said Lisa Kombrink, a partner at the Riverhead firm Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin & Quartararo, who represents the title company that discovered the errors. “We were hopeful that the proposition would pass, because it was a very unusual situation and, I believe, a meritorious proposition.”

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Congratulations to our superb Alex Gregor and to all who won seats on the Board of Trustees. Congratulations also to Dave Betts and to those Trustee candidates who didn't finish in the money, just for sticking your necks out and running the race -- it's not an easy thing to do, and you deserve our thanks for doing it.

I'm especially sorry that the Trustees won't have the passion, the intellect and the exceptional qualifications of John Bouvier at the table, but that's how it shakes out. ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Nov 6, 13 4:09 PM