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Jul 23, 2009 1:29 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Independence Party endorsements cause rift

Jul 23, 2009 1:29 PM

In what could prove to be a factor in November’s general election, the Southampton Town Independence Party has announced its slate of candidates—but the process of how those candidates were picked has caused a rift between the party’s county and town leaders, with the latter saying they will step down as a result.

According to Alex Gregor, the town’s Independence Party chair, the town committee unanimously voted Wednesday evening to endorse Democrats Sally Pope and Bridget Fleming for Town Board, and, for town supervisor, Anna Throne-Holst, who is not affiliated with a party but is the Democratic nominee for supervisor. However, party’s county leaders overruled the local committee, honoring the committee’s choice of Ms. Throne-Holst but nominating Republicans Chris Nuzzi and Jim Malone for Town Board instead.

With the lines for the November ballot evenly split, with the Republican/Conservative nominations on one side and the Democratic/Working Families nominations on the other, the Independence line could give a candidate an edge, especially in a close race. Also, the Independence Party’s registration in Southampton Town has grown steadily each year since 2000, from 782 that year to 1,731 this year.

The announcement of the Independence Party endorsements came just two days after Frank MacKay, the party’s county chairman, had said the party’s nominees for Southampton Town offices would be chosen by town—and not county—leaders. Reached on Tuesday, Mr. MacKay declined to comment about the party’s pending slate, but he did say the choice of candidates for town races were “decisions [that] will be made at the town level.”

On Thursday, however, Mr. MacKay maintained that he “never made such assertions”—despite statements from Mr. Gregor, and others, who said they were told the same thing.

According to Bill Pell, the vice chairman for the town’s Independence committee, Mr. MacKay told him directly that the county would go with the local committee’s choices. “I was told face to face that it would be left to us,” Mr. Pell said. “He told me years ago that he didn’t know anything about the East End.”

Mr. Pell added that there was an agreement that the county leaders would let the town committee select town candidates, and that the town committee would let the county leaders select the county candidates. “It’s very disappointing that it comes down to deals, and that we have to tell all the people who have worked for our party that their hard work means nothing,” Mr. Pell said.

Mr. MacKay defended his position and said the candidates who received the party’s endorsements were worthy candidates and the best choices for the people. “I have a great deal of respect for both Chris Nuzzi and Jim Malone, and I think they are the best candidates,” Mr. MacKay said Thursday. “I also think Anna Throne-Holst will make a wonderful supervisor. She’s a special person and provides a clear alternative to the current supervisor for Republican voters.”

But a disillusioned Mr. Gregor said Thursday the county’s disregard for the committee’s vote is why people are turned off from politics. “Why even bother screening candidates, conducting exhaustive interviews, having a well thought out process to find the best candidates, only to be overruled?” Mr. Gregor said.

Mr. Gregor and Mr. Pell said they both plan to step down from their leadership positions in the coming weeks. “I’m proud to be a member of the Independence Party,” Mr. Gregor said. “But politics is a rotten business.”

Southampton Town Democratic Committee Chairman Gordon Herr said Mr. MacKay had also informed him that local party leaders would be calling the shots. “I met Frank MacKay at the Independence Party spring reception on Monday, April 27, at the Venetian Yacht Club in Babylon,” Mr. Herr said. “And he told me that Mr. Gregor and the local committee would be running the show.”

Mr. Herr added that the recent turn of events affecting Southampton politics amounts to a “back-room” deal by up-island party leaders. “It’s unsettling that the local committee conducted a transparent, thorough screening process, which, unfortunately, was negated by a back-room deal between the county Independence and Conservative party bosses and the Southampton Republican Party chairman, Marcus Stinchi.”

Mr. Herr, and Mr. Gregor, both said the intent behind the deal is to get rid of Town Supervisor Linda Kabot, but to retain a Republican/Conservative majority on the Town Board. “They can live with Anna for two years,” Mr. Herr said of Ms. Throne-Holst. “But by keeping control of the board they will essentially make her ineffective.”

Mr. Gregor said the committee’s desire to endorse Ms. Throne-Holst, Ms. Pope and Ms. Fleming was not an anti-GOP move. “We simply didn’t believe that the Republicans deserved our endorsements based on the past five or six years and the current state of the town’s finances,” Mr. Gregor said. “Had the Democrats run the town against the rocks then the situation would be reversed.”

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I am a blank but somehow got tricked into being a member of this "party". Can someone tell me what it is that Alex and company really represent or is he just the snake oil salesman he comes off as?
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Jul 23, 09 3:06 PM
These clowns should be named the Dependent Party.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Jul 23, 09 5:01 PM
First of all, although I am a Republican, I woud consider Bill Pell an excellent candidate for the Trustee seat and he will be getting my vote over Eric Schulz. As far as Alex Gregor is concerned, stop your crying. Once you put your name in the hat for Superintendent of Highways, it was time to step away from your Independence Party chairmanship. Talk about a conflict of interest. I fear that the Highway Department will go from about a $2 million deficit to a $5 million deficit with Alex Gregor ...more
By bobalooey (45), East Quogue on Jul 23, 09 5:28 PM
Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.
John Quincy Adams

NO Incumbents
NO Democrats
NO Republicans
By Dr Spock (36), Hampton Bays on Jul 23, 09 5:31 PM
Not sure what led to such a scathing rebuke, EE68, but I get the sense that the Town chapter of the Independence Party was formed with -- dare I use such a term in such an ignoble arena -- noble intentions, and then was sandbagged by Frank McKay who seems to have forgotten why the Independence Party was established.

And while I'm ordinarily not inclined to side with anyone who would adopt the persona of a Howard Stern second banana, you're right, Bill Pell would make an excellent Town Trustee, ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jul 23, 09 6:26 PM
Sure, sure, says Frank Mackay, the choice of candidates will be made at the town level. Now boss Mackay says this is true as long as they agree with his choice. So much for the independence of the Independence Party. And this is not the the first time boss Mackay has done exactly this. Just ask the prior leaders of the Southampton Independence Party what happened to them. Go ahead I'll wait. The Independence Party has rampaged over other local party leaders who have had the temerity to disagree ...more
By Bob Whyte (48), Hampton Bays on Jul 23, 09 7:37 PM
Now I,m really confused! what party can put a liberal progressive and two conservatives on the same ticket. Seems like the party leadership has some other motive, I think Bob Whyte has a good idea about control of the board rendering any elected Supervisor mute. Kabot has done a poor job protecting the people franchise while Throne-Holst is going to increase town debt, she wants to borrow against the Preservation fund while revenues continue to plummet thus forcing a tax increase to cover the ...more
By tom (53), Hampton Bays on Jul 23, 09 11:20 PM
I checked out the NY Independence Party website to ascertain under what principals they operate. I found this:

"To create a political party committed to the highest standards of quality in every aspect of the party -- representation, organization, campaigning, elections, fund raising, and participation"

So, a guess there higher standard is -- to hell with what the local Independent organization wants. I, the great Frank Mackay, will call the shots. A modern day wizard of Oz, or ...more
By number19 (111), Westhampton on Jul 24, 09 10:05 AM
The independence party seems to be suffering from a bout of schizophrenia. As they say, "all politics is local", so let the locals decide who to run. Vote democratic party.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Jul 24, 09 10:09 AM
Well I certainly hope this is the final nail in the coffin for Alex. He has spent months telling the Dems how he can deliver the goods, and they bought it, hook , line and sinker. Now they are stuck with him on their line and no good what so ever can come from that.
By Terry (380), Southampton on Jul 24, 09 11:34 AM
One can certainly understand the dissapointment of Dem Party Boss Mr. Herr and Indy Party Boss Mr. Gregor that their deal fell thru. But please spare us the hand wringing about a "transparent, thorough screening process" and "screening candidates, conducting exhaustive interviews, having a well thought out process to find the best candidates", when everyone knew they had aready sealed their deal. Fibbing to you fellow candidates and leaders acorss the aisle is bad enough but please stop muddying ...more
By DJII13 (155), Hampton Bays on Jul 24, 09 12:12 PM
Seems a bit premature to write Alex Gregor's obituary, when he's the only one who's displayed any integrity in this mess.
By hshenry (8), Hampton Bays on Jul 24, 09 12:12 PM
Alex Gregor and integrity in the same sentence? This guy has made promises in every election to deliver the Independence Party Line in order to get a civil service job in Southampton Town. He needs to find what he is good at and look for a job in that industry. It's certainly not as the Superintendent of Highways. May back at the Planning Board or private industry. Once he accepted the nomination to run for the Superintendent of Highways, he should have stepped down as the chair of the Independence ...more
By bobalooey (45), East Quogue on Jul 24, 09 12:38 PM
Alex and Integrity? Please
Alex for Trustee, no wait.... Alex for Council, no wait,.....Alex for Highway, no wait.... Alex for Highway, no wait..... Alex for Supervisor, no wait.... Alex for Highway.......
He wants a damn paycheck, thats all. DJ1113 hit this one right.....what process are they talking about? No one but the Dems were screened.
By Terry (380), Southampton on Jul 24, 09 2:09 PM
It's MacKay who should step down. He's the one who made the backroom deal, which Nuzzi and Malone, those twin avatars of integrity, were only too happy to jump onto. Incidentally, I believe they were both screened by the Independence party committee and last I heard, they're not Dems.
By hshenry (8), Hampton Bays on Jul 24, 09 2:19 PM
hshenry, I understand your fustration. But be honest. You may prefer to call what Mr. Gregor and Mr. Herr arranged as an "agreement to accomadate". And if they had pulled it off, it would have been more power to them. It is just too bad for them that both parties didn't have the final ability to deliver. But there was no more or no less inegrity to their "agreement to accomadate" than what happened. As Mr. Gregor might say, "that's politics sometimes". All the rest is just crying over spilt milk.
By DJII13 (155), Hampton Bays on Jul 24, 09 2:37 PM
I want to make sure I understand you, DJIII3: When Mackay, the Republicans and the Conservatives make a backroom deal, it's just boys being boys. But when the local Independence party committee actually demonstrates independence from the up-island bullies, it's dirty politics. Interesting worldview.
By hshenry (8), Hampton Bays on Jul 24, 09 4:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
hshenrym my point was simply there is little difference between one group of politicians making a deal for their own self interest and another. Anyone claiming a moral high ground above what is their own blatant self interest is kidding themself and insulting the intelligence of the electorate. BTW I apologize going forward and backward for any spelling mistakes in these posts. This typeface is smalll, I am getting older and I cannot push the kep board far enough away to see and type :)
By DJII13 (155), Hampton Bays on Jul 24, 09 6:46 PM
Alex Gregor has always stood up to the SH Republican machine. Many of you do not like someone like him challenging the status-quo in this town. I say, “good for him”, I wish that there were more like him. As far as highway superintendent, he has my vote...and he is going to win...the worst nightmare for the GOP power people.
It is too bad that the Local Independence party could not choose their own candidates....is't that the way things should be?
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Jul 25, 09 12:48 AM
2 members liked this comment
Actaully many do like Mr. Gregor. But Mr. Gregor standing up to the Republican machine is a myth of political convienence. He was all too happy to enjoy to the rewards of membership that led to appointments to boards and town employment until ithe party was no longer willing or able to satisfy his wants. At that point challenging the hand that once helped him became a means to an end not some heroic iniatiative despite his, his supporters and some in the media's effort to portray it that way.
By DJII13 (155), Hampton Bays on Jul 25, 09 6:51 AM
Well let’s see what we have here Kabot loses Anna wins Nuzzi wins and then we have gregor v mcgann. The entire campaign for highway will go negative.....gegor this and that the other guy left work because of this and that...ones a limo driver who needs a job and the other guy works part-time at a security job and both of them have no experience in an administrative job like the town highway superintendent. Oh sure they both will say they do but let’s be honest......while many will be happy Mastersons ...more
By Hamptonman911 (14), Southampton on Jul 25, 09 9:36 AM
Perhaps Gregor saw the real stripes of the SH Republican leadership and is working against One-Party-Rule in the Town of Southampton. Lets face it, every board in town hall is controlled by the GOP leadership. This One-Party-Rule only benefits those Republicans in power. Look at what has gone on in town government. We need people to step up and challange this machine. This guy Gregor is one and we need more of them. No matter how much you guys slam him, he will still have my vote....and many others....
He ...more
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Jul 25, 09 10:08 AM
When the Highway Department shows a $5 million deficit in 2 years due to the ineptitude of Alex Gregor (assuming he wins), SHNative and everyone else who voted for Alex should be surcharged to make up the deficit. I do agree that we need both Democrats and Republicans serving to keep checks and balances, but Alex Gregor is just not the right person for the job. Actually what this Town needs is less politicians and more businessmen and women. Politicians that have never owned a successful business ...more
By bobalooey (45), East Quogue on Jul 25, 09 10:46 AM
It sounds like none of you actually know or have met Mr. Gregor. I don't think you'd honestly be able to type and send some of the utter nonsense that has appeared here if you did. And the comments and statements about the future under his potential leadership are just pure baloney and are typical of the "run the candidate into the ground" tactics that have been at the heart of the local Republican party for decades. Taking biased shots with out knowing the candidate reveals the game plan they've ...more
By barberosa (39), Watermill on Jul 26, 09 2:04 PM
2 members liked this comment
Remember that Alex Gregor only lost to Masterson by 284 votes out of more than 12,000 votes cast. There certainly were enough voters who thought he would be better the better choice. Masterson almost lost his job then even with hundreds of thousands in his campaign fund. Now where did all that money come from? Remember how he saved all his paving contractor friends so much money last year by not holding them to their contracts with the town?

And now, after 20 years in office, the only ...more
By Bob Whyte (48), Hampton Bays on Jul 26, 09 3:47 PM
3 members liked this comment
No barberosa, it sounds like YOU don't know Alex. And I bet he would like to keep it that way.
Tell me please, what qualifies him for this position? Or the Trustee spot he ran for?, or the Council Person spot he ran for?, or the Supervisors seat he ran for?

Just wanting a paycheck isn't a qualification.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Aug 9, 09 5:33 PM