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Jan 13, 2016 10:39 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Voter Turnout Could Decide Special Election For Southampton Town Board Seat

Richard Yastrzemski and Julie Lofstad.
Jan 14, 2016 4:40 PM

With less than two weeks before a special Town Board election in Southampton, volunteers for both candidates are pushing as many town residents as possible toward the polls, saying voter turnout could be the key factor in determining the outcome.

Historically, the turnout for special elections has always been significantly lower, nationwide, than for November contests. The turnout for the November 2015 election was almost twice the number of ballots cast in the last special election in Southampton Town, which took place in March 2010.

“The big difference in my mind is the time of year,” said Gordon Herr, chairman of the Southampton Town Democratic Committee. “Everyone expects the election in November, and most people have no idea there is a special election, whether it is in January or February or March. It is really a question of making sure the voters know the election is happening.”

The special election was scheduled in December to fill a board seat vacated by Brad Bender, who was forced to resign in November as part of a federal plea deal after being accused of conspiring to illegally distribute oxycodone, to which he had become addicted. The board has been operating with only four members ever since, and Republican Richard Yastrzemski and Democrat Julie Lofstad are competing to fill Mr. Bender’s vacated seat.

Mr. Yastrzemski is currently the deputy mayor of Southampton Village, where he lives. In November, he made his first bid for town office, losing the supervisor race to Jay Schneiderman, who was recently sworn in.

Ms. Lofstad is a full-time Hampton Bays resident who ran for Town Board in November, narrowly missing nailing down a seat but finishing just behind running mate John Bouvier and Republican Christine P. Scalera. She is a founding member of the Hampton Bays Mothers Association and has served on the hamlet’s Parent Teacher Association and the Parent Teacher Organization.

The last special election held in the town, according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections, was in March 2010, when Bridget Fleming successfully ran to fill the Town Board seat of Anna Throne-Holst, who had been elected supervisor. At the time, 6,456 Southampton Town voters cast ballots, with 3,533 votes between the Democratic and Independence party lines, and 2,919 votes on the Republican line.

In comparison, in this past November’s election, 11,011 people voted in the Southampton Town supervisor race. In total, 6,023 votes were cast for candidates running on the Democratic, Working Families, Independence and Women’s Equality lines. At the same time, 4,662 votes were cast for Republican, Conservative and Reform candidates.

In total, 11,030 voters cast ballots in November across all of the races, according to unofficial numbers from the Board of Elections. There were 4,397 registered Republican voters and 3,414 registered Democratic voters, meaning a difference of less than a thousand votes.

Fred W. Thiele Jr., chairman of the Independence Party, noted that a regular election gives the smaller parties the opportunity to swing the vote. However, he said, they are not the focus of the “Get Out To Vote” campaign the Republican and Democratic parties are running now, and will not be the key to the special election. In the November elections, 282 registered Conservative Party members voted, and 575 registered with the Independence Party line voted.

Both parties are backing Ms. Lofstad in the special election.

According to final election results posted on the Suffolk Board of Elections website, in November Republican town board candidate Damon Hagan garnered 963 votes on the Conservative line, while Christine Scalera earned 1,044 votes on the Conservative line. At the same time, Democratic candidate John Bouvier received 515 votes on the Independence Party line, and Ms. Lofstad had 510 on the Indpendence Party line. In the Supervisor race, Mr. Yastrzemski had 877 votes on the Conservative Party line, while Jay Schneiderman had 548 Independence Party line votes.

“In my opinion, people may vote on the other lines, but I think that third parties have a lesser importance in the special election,” Mr. Thiele said. “That is because there are more people to vote in a regular election in November. The turnout in Southampton in a presidential election year will exceed 20,000. We will be lucky if there is 3,000 or 4,000 in this election.”

Mr. Thiele also noted there would be a few things that impact the turnout on the 26th, including how many people remember the election is happening, interest in the candidates, and weather.

According to Mr. Hagan, the campaign manager for Mr. Yastrzemski, they are treating the special election as they would any other campaign, focusing on getting people to the polls. “Voter turnout is a priority in every election, whether it is a special election or a general election,” Mr. Hagan said. “We are focusing our campaign on talking to people and encouraging people to come out and take part in the process.”

But Mr. Herr is also encouraging voters to head to the polls, saying a major hurdle will be the time of year. Many Southampton Town residents, he noted, are not in the area in January, taking advantage of the slow season to travel to warmer climates. There has been a large push, he said, to make sure all residents who live out of town during the winter will have access to an absentee ballot form, and campaign workers have sent out mailings with absentee ballots to put them in the hands of as many people as possible.

“We did a major absentee ballot mailing a few weeks ago to everybody we thought might be away at the end of January,” Mr. Herr said. “We enclosed an application suggesting that if they are going to be away they should send in an application.”

With absentee ballots out, both sides are sticking to business as usual when it comes to convincing voters, saying there is not enough time to develop new strategies. Both Mr. Yastrzemski and Ms. Lofstad have been conducting phone and door-to-door campaigns, as well as attending community events.

“It is certainly a shortened time frame, but our message has always been a consistent one,” Mr. Hagan said. “We need effective leadership in Town Hall and I believe that given Rich Yastrzemski’s years as a village trustee, deputy mayor and police commissioner, he has the tools and the talent to bring the leadership we need to Town Hall.”

Both candidates will also participate in a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters at the Westhampton Library on January 21, as well as a meet the candidates event hosted by The Southampton Press on Saturday, January 16.

“We are really doing everything we did and we have the same strategy,” Mr. Herr said. “Our candidate is the best for the job and highly qualified for this position. She has tremendous support across the aisle.”

The special election will take place on Tuesday, January 26, and is open to all voters registered in Southampton Town.

“The people who vote here are going to be the ones who are really dedicated to vote every time,” Mr. Thiele said. “And by the time they come to the polls they have already decided who to vote for.”

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All the snow birds have left for warmer climates. There will be a very low voter turnout.
By auntof9 (157), Southampton on Jan 13, 16 12:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
Anyone who votes for who Fred Thiele is backing is a corrupted person in general. This guy is backing the liberals to get his wife a job at town hall. Wake up people. Bunch of corruption right under your nose. Thiele needs to go and is a no good human being. Just like his puppet Jeremy. Anyone he backs is just a corrupt of a person as that inconsiderate human being is. The democrats have ruined the town of Southampton the last eight years. Time for a change. Can't get any worse people. Go out and ...more
By islander6615 (133), hampton bays on Jan 13, 16 3:58 PM
1 member liked this comment
VOTE for Julie Lofstad. Southampton Town needs someone who will not "play the game" as some here do! She will not "go along to get along". She doesn't need this job and won't compromise her integrity to keep it. Doesn't that sound refreshing!
She lives in Hampton Bays and makes her living fishing these waters.
Tuesday 1/26/16 - VOTE.
By FiddlerCrab (96), Westhampton Beach on Jan 24, 16 10:03 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Jan 13, 16 5:23 PM
and this is related to an article about voter turn out in a special election, how?

Mr. Thiele is not on the ballot on January 26, nor are either of the two candidates members of the Independence Party.

And just to note calls on domestic disputes between divorcing or divorced spouses are just that calls. Where are the Orders of Protection or Arrests for assaults, batteries, etc?

Don't take this as a defense of Mr. Thiele simply an attempt to keep attention focused on the ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jan 13, 16 5:38 PM
1 member liked this comment
Start with voting for people that this corrupted man is not backing. If you don't think Thiele has anything to do with this election you are blind. They backed julie and so are the conservatives. Why? Thiele wife needs a job at town hall. Time for a change Tiger. This has a lot to do with Fred and political corruptness.
By islander6615 (133), hampton bays on Jan 14, 16 11:20 AM
In the November elections, just 282 people voted on the Conservative line, and 575 voted on the Independence Party line. Both parties are backing Ms. Lofstad in the special election."

Whoa Nelly - those numbers are totally inaccurate.

In the Town Council Races the numbers as reported on the SCBOE Web Site
are
42 Election Districts 100.00% 100.00%
20,484 Votes cast out of 73,788 27.76% 27.76%
Candidate Party Votes
Share

Scalera, Christine P Republican 4,445 21.70% ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jan 13, 16 5:27 PM
Hi, folks--wanted to wait till we had a definite answer to this issue.

Our numbers came from the Suffolk County Board of Elections, and I think the issue was the wording as originally presented in the story.

In a nutshell, we mixed registered voter numbers and the number of votes CAST on THOSE LINES, which are, yes, very different.

I believe the story is now updated to clarify the point. Apologies for the confusion.
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (206), Hampton Bays on Jan 14, 16 4:18 PM
Conservative leaders backing the democrat line so their leaders wife can get a job. This just shows how pathetic the democratic line has got in the town of southampton. What a disgrace. Time for a change in the Town of Southampton and we need someone with experience in the town board. Mr. Brandt what do you have to say about your leader doing this just so his wife can get a job? Why did the conservatives back Julie over Rich? Think about it people? So his wife could get a job. It is complete corruptness ...more
By islander6615 (133), hampton bays on Jan 14, 16 7:02 AM
Or perhaps it is because Ms Lofstad runs a family business and understands the value of a dollar while Mr Yastremzki has presided over massive increases in taxes and debt for the Village of Southampton. Maybe they just chose the fiscally responsible candidate...
By bird (824), Sag Harbor on Jan 15, 16 10:52 AM
Think your a little mixed up but I get your point. I'm finding it hard to believe anything the SH town Dems put out. They won't even endorse ATH who they have jammed down our throats for the past few years. Been disappointed with the Dems as of late. I already see the writing in the wall for Lofstad. She's the third vote to put all there pals in cushy jobs. She has no experience that I deem worthy of holding this position. Make Jay work on a board that he does not have the majority. If he is that ...more
By GoldenBoy (350), EastEnd on Jan 14, 16 10:05 AM
GoldenBoy, you're a thoughtful commenter, but you're making the same mistake about ATH and the Dems that farmlocal made in another thread.

First, Town Supervisor and U.S. Representative are two very different jobs. Ms. Throne-Holst was quite good as Supervisor, but won't do well in Congress because she hasn't the background or especially, the temperament for the position. She's never been wrong, if you get my meaning, and I know, because I've been to many more Town Board meetings than ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Jan 14, 16 2:37 PM
"Ms. Throne-Holst was quite good as Supervisor"?!?! Some of the comments from the party-line democrats almost make me want to vote against Julie Lofstad. It is only because I know her to be intelligent, honest and hardworking that I am voting for her DESPITE some of the one-sided democratic comments. Be careful - you all are not making friends and winning votes for Ms. Lofstad from those voters that don't play politics.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Jan 14, 16 9:05 PM
How are you seeing something more in Julie Lofstad? What has she done for you to see anything? She is in it for the benefits and to be the demo puppet just like you guys used the lady in the election in November. Also Turkey Bridge what do you have to say about your boy Mr. Thieves wife and the town attorney job? You don't smell corruption there? And once again I will be voting for YAZ because I am tired of these corrupted democrats who have ruined the town the last eight years. Turkey have you ...more
By islander6615 (133), hampton bays on Jan 15, 16 2:53 PM
Islander,

You need to check you historical facts, the Dems have not had majorities for the bulk of the last 8 years, the Reps did and therefore control what happened and didn't happen in Town.

So do aAt leas I do and spread the blame around to all of them, Dems, Reps, Conservatives, Independence Partyites.

Old Turkish expression - Eine Eine - Same same.

And credit the bi-partisan cooperation between Scalera and Fleming for the current movement to upgrade Flanders.

And ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jan 15, 16 6:38 PM
1 member liked this comment
I can't say either candidate seems to be golden. I just don't see Julie's experience as experience that would be beneficial to the running of our Town. But I am not sure I want someone who was a politician before. Not strong choices
By bb (909), Hampton Bays on Jan 15, 16 10:39 AM
Once again another democrat saying someone with no experience is better than someone with experience. Bunch of jokers
By islander6615 (133), hampton bays on Jan 15, 16 2:54 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Gillnetter (105), Hampton Bays on Jan 15, 16 9:18 PM
1 member liked this comment
I'm really glad YAZ had the sense to stay away from crooks like Ed Walsh..

Good job, Julie. Accepting an endorsement from an (alleged)Crook!

And Freds wife gets a job. Beautiful...
By Draggerman (940), Southampton on Jan 15, 16 9:47 PM
Draggerman,

Lets face it, in November Yaz gladly took the Conservative endorsement from then already accused Ed Walsh, who you correctly note has been alleged to have committed a crime(s) but is entitled to a presumption of innocence. So what exactly distinguishes Julie from Yaz regarding acceptance of the Conservative line. Especially since as far as we know neither Julie nor Yaz ever had contact with any Conservatives other than those from Southampton Town, known of whom to my knowledge ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jan 15, 16 11:09 PM
Jay is going to ruin this town even more. If Lofstad gets in he can do whatever he wants with no fight. Hence puppet pal. Its called checks and balances. Whatever your weasel wants to do he will because he has the majority. Most likely raise taxes like he is known for. And guess what your party has destroyed Hampton Bays and Flanders and now you want to use a slogan that says " Revitalize Main Street' in Hampton Bays. Tiger put the bs aside your party has ruined those towns and now want to use a ...more
By islander6615 (133), hampton bays on Jan 16, 16 2:11 PM
Say it ain't so Draggerman, but I've been told you have the initials DH and are actually Yaz' campaign manager.

Why would a former Town Board candidate and prominent Republican (rumors you might be the next Rep leader in Town) not reveal his close ties to the campaign to the readers here?

Sure hope I was misinformed, otherwise you are now like George Lynch, pseudonym unveiled Republican Campaign manager.

fess up Draggerman, cleanse your soul and tell us why you are hiding ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jan 16, 16 3:44 PM
While we waiting to see if you are ready to reveal your true self here I have another question.

Have you submitted your name for Town Attorney or are you waiting to see if you can get Yaz elected to give you 3 votes for that position?

You guys criticize the other party for doing exactly what you want to do.

A plague on both your houses.

By the way Damon, I have confirmation you are in fact Damon Hagan.
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jan 16, 16 4:02 PM
Hold the presses Damon,

Didn't you take the Conservative line in the November election?

Lordy Miss Molly its really unbelievable that you belief the people of so gullible.

You wanna know why Julie is hands down the better future Councilperson than Yaz - cuz she don't show the kind of disrespect for the public and taxpayers of Southampton as guys do.

So please you and all your fellow republican committee persons writing here behind pseudonyms, STOP INSULTING THE ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jan 16, 16 4:16 PM
I am not DH. Once again, a misinformed Liberal... LOL
By Draggerman (940), Southampton on Jan 17, 16 7:04 AM
Your sources are erroneous, my Liberal friend.

My identity is private because I like it that way. My friends all know who I post as. Most figured it out.

I own a local business, volunteer in many ways and love my community. I belong to Fraternal Organizations that have some members that are less than conservative. I don't argue politics with them, nor do I care to.

But, I am not this Damon Hagan you speak of. Sorry.
By Draggerman (940), Southampton on Jan 18, 16 6:15 PM
My conservative friend, liberals don't consider me liberal nor do I. My philosophical bent stretches across the spectrum from conservative to libertarian to liberal and back again.

By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jan 19, 16 7:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
Sweet Jesus! Once again, Right-Wing zombies defame honest women with unscrupulous implication, innuendo, and prejudicial supposition.

Did Joseph Goebbels rise from his grave (or Andrew Dice Clay from his career grave?)
By highhatsize (4177), East Quogue on Jan 15, 16 10:40 PM
Rightttt
By They call me (2790), southampton on Jan 16, 16 1:12 AM
Little boy blew . . . .
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Jan 16, 16 6:17 PM
"He needed the money" Andrew Dice Clay
By bigfresh (4590), north sea on Jan 17, 16 2:39 PM
a picture speaks a thousand words
By Erin 27 E (1258), hampton bays on Jan 17, 16 3:35 PM
I got to laugh. Driving through my hometown and I see the most ridiculous campaign sign. Julie Lofstad and the democrats " Revitalize Main Street" in Hampton Bays. Do you guys not see the demo are eating their own words. You guys have ruined Hampton Bays the last eight years including Flanders. We are always put on the back burner because we are working people and don't have the deep pockets. Maybe main street wouldn't happen to be revitalize if you paid somewhat attention to us. Its a complete ...more
By islander6615 (133), hampton bays on Jan 16, 16 2:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
You sure can laugh cuz if memory serves me correctly over the last 8 years, 6 years had a Republican Town Board majority who did nothing to aid Hampton Bays or Flanders Northampton and only less than 2 years with a Dem/Indy majority.

So who's shucking whom?

And while I am an enrolled Democrat, I am not part of the Southampton Democratic Committee or associated with that organization in any fashion. Can you say the same about your relationship with the Southampton Republican Committee?

As ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jan 16, 16 3:59 PM
KT

Visiting the 7-11 again.

I knew I knew that laugh.

You of all people know how many years Hampton Bays has suffered under Republican controlled Town Boards.

At least back in the day they did have a fine sign ordinance lady. oh, wait of course you know mom well didn't you.
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jan 16, 16 4:43 PM
Following in your grandmothers and fathers footsteps as a Southampton Republican Committeeperson.

More power to you, but you know your father always stuck to the facts and didn't make things up to win arguments, friends or debates.

I consider your pop a good friend out of respect for him I will leave your name out of it.

But fess up kid, just another Republican Committeeman hiding behind a pseudonym afraid to reveal to the readers here who you are and afraid if they knew ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jan 16, 16 5:01 PM
Would just like to congratulate Joe Shaw on a job well done at today's discussion with the two candidates.

Thank you Joe!
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jan 16, 16 4:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
Absentee ballot for Julie on the CONSERATIVE line on the way!!
By bigfresh (4590), north sea on Jan 21, 16 12:32 PM
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