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Sep 23, 2009 11:09 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Stinchi steps aside, Wruck takes reins of town GOP

Sep 23, 2009 11:09 AM

With less than two months to go in what is already a contentious run-up to the November general election, Southampton Town Republican Committee Chairman Marcus Stinchi ceded control to his successor, Ernest Wruck, a former committee vice chairman who served under Mr. Stinchi, at the committee’s reorganization meeting on Monday.

Following the transfer of power, Mr. Wruck appointed Marietta Seaman as committee vice chairman, Rob Coyle as secretary, and Meg Halsey as treasurer.

The shift in leadership comes as the GOP is gearing up to do battle with town Democrats for two Town Board seats, five Board of Trustees seats, and the positions of supervisor and highway superintendent, among others. After his selection, Mr. Wruck, who was unchallenged for the committee’s top spot, urged committee members to unite behind the party’s slate of 13 candidates and to fan out into communities to “get out the vote.”

“We’re going to go out and [get a] win for every one of them this year,” Mr. Wruck said. “That is what I am dedicating to you to do this fall.”

Mr. Stinchi, who had been chairman of the committee for five and a half years, announced his decision not to run for reelection to a crowd of about 35 committee members at the reorganization meeting in Hampton Bays. He said being chairman took needed time away from running his expanding business, Stinchi Landscaping of Westhampton Beach.

The decision to step aside, he said, follows but is unrelated to recent turmoil within the party—chiefly, political in-fighting with and over incumbent Republican Supervisor Linda Kabot and one-time supervisor nominee Jim Malone, which divided the party in May and ended in Mr. Malone backing out of the supervisor race. And just as things were calming down, Ms. Kabot was arrested in Westhampton Beach on September 7 and charged with DWI. Ms. Kabot pleaded not guilty to the charge and has vowed to fight it.

“My decision does not come on any recent affront,” Mr. Stinchi said. “This is a decision that I discussed two years ago before running again. ... I just really need to focus more on [Stinchi Landscaping].”

While the party seems to be ahead of the game financially—it reported $60,542 cash on hand in July, while only $8,400 was held by the Southampton Democratic Committee, according to the latest finance disclosure statements filed with the Suffolk County Board of Elections—it is expected to face a tough challenge in Democratic supervisor candidate Anna Throne-Holst, who has gained considerable popularity during her first term as a Southampton Town Board member.

Mr. Wruck, 56, of Eastport is a practicing estate law attorney with offices in Patchogue. He is married with three children.

The new chairman was exposed to local politics at an early age by his father, Ernest, a former Brookhaven Republican Party committeeman, he said. His dad used their former home in Brookhaven hamlet as a base camp for Republican campaign volunteers who would drum up votes in the community. Pre-election nights, Mr. Wruck recalled, were “like Thanksgiving”—his parents always prepared a turkey dinner.

After graduating with a law degree from Valparaiso University in Indiana and passing the New York State bar exams in 1979, Mr. Wruck stayed active in area politics. He became a member of the Southampton Republican Committee in 2001 and was appointed committee vice chairman last year.

As chairman, Mr. Wruck said he hopes to further the party’s goals of lower taxes, smaller government and job creation. “Those are the things I intend to fight for,” Mr. Wruck said.

Though a plan supported by Ms. Kabot to reduce the town’s multimillion-dollar deficit by raising taxes goes against party principles, the chairman said Ms. Kabot still has the support of the party in her reelection bid.

“When we talk about the party, we have to talk about principles, goals,” Mr. Wruck said. “They’re not always achievable.”

At Monday’s reorganization meeting, committee members signaled support for Mr. Wruck, though some were concerned to see Mr. Stinchi step aside. Mr. Stinchi has said he will continue to advise Mr. Wruck about party business in the months ahead.

Former committee Chairman George Mathys said he urged Mr. Stinchi not to step aside. “I was hoping he wouldn’t step down,” Mr. Mathys said. “I tried to encourage him not to step down, but he had had enough.”

Nonetheless, Mr. Mathys said that he supports Mr. Wruck. “I am confident he will do a great job.”

Others were hopeful Mr. Wruck will galvanize the party, which has suffered setbacks and turmoil in recent years. This year and in 2007, the committee nominated Republican candidates to run against Republican incumbents.

“If they don’t get the party together, to work together as a unit, it is going to be disastrous,” said Antonio Gil Sr., a former town councilman. “If they don’t treat everybody like ladies and gentlemen, it’s going to be tough.”

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Good luck, Marcus, a worthy opponernt
By number19 (111), Westhampton on Sep 23, 09 10:54 AM
Lower taxes, smaller government and job creation are conflicting goals and tired republican talking points. Republicans believe there is no role for government in our every day lives, unless of course they are trying to impose their own twisted morality.
By yearrounder (208), Southampton on Sep 23, 09 11:14 AM
hey yearrounder - speaking ot tired talking points, do you look in the mirror at all before your automatic knee jerk response? What twisted morality have local Republicans ever tried to impose in Southampton? Why are lower taxes, smaller government and job creation conflicting goals? While I would agree that lower taxes and smaller government do not automatically increase jobs without other corresponding smart policies, it is almost invariable that higher taxes squeeze out jobs. Larger government ...more
By DJII13 (155), Hampton Bays on Sep 23, 09 4:01 PM
It seems that whenever a Republican like Nancy Graboski or Linda Kabot asserts some independence and seeks to do something for the public instead of the special interests, the core good-old-boy establishment of the local Party shoots them down, or tries to. Actually, in Ms. Kabot's case, the perceived offense to the powers that be may have been ambition rather than any real independence, but either way, it is this reactionary organizational mindset that so handicaps the Republicans in the eyes ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Sep 23, 09 4:49 PM
Good luck Ernie!, I know you will be a real positive asset to the committee.
By BridgetLTP (3), Eastport on Sep 24, 09 9:12 AM
Turkey Bridge is naive even to allow for the possiblity that Linda Kabot has acted from any motive other than pure ambition. She's all about power like the other Republicans -- it's just that she took the power away from Skip Heaney, and now he's using the Party organization to try and get it back. That's what all the strife among the Republicans is about, and that's why Marcus Stinchi got worn out, understandably, and why Ernie Wruck is stepping up to the plate.

Progressive? Independent? ...more
By fidelis (199), westhampton beach on Sep 24, 09 11:59 AM
Mr. DJ1113:
Instead of spewing mindless hypocritical, ideological talking points, it will help to educate oneself so what is said makes some sense. You talk of Republican principles of smaller government and lower taxes. At least please read news reports. We all want great government that represents taxpayer interests.

For the greater part of this decade, the Republicans and Skip Heaney presided over the greatest increase in Town government in the history of Southampton leading to the ...more
By Common Sense (56), Southampton on Sep 24, 09 12:12 PM
Well said Common Sense!
So now, we got Chris Nuzzi from Brookhaven (Special Assistant for their supervisor), now we get this guy from Brookhaven.
Both were there for the famous crooked land deals and other things which earned the name CROOKHAVEN for that town.
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Sep 24, 09 5:27 PM
SHNative why the need to debase the conversation with personal attacks? What is mindless about what I said, particularly in contrast with yearrounders post? Heck, I even aloowed that it is debatable, which folks like you dould read as an invitation do just that and advance the public dialogue.
Speaking of debatable, while as a taxpayer and resident of Southampton I am am and have been concerned with the growth of government at not only the national and state level, but the town level as well, ...more
By DJII13 (155), Hampton Bays on Sep 25, 09 9:11 AM
In watching the 9/22 meeting on the tube the other night I was surprised to see how verbose Nuzzi had become. He had an opinion/objection on just about every item brought before the board. He has suddenly perked up after what seemed like two years of semi-silence. Had he chimed in with more frequency during his past term he would not now have to convince the electorate, at the eleventh hour, that he is viable and hands on. I am not totally sure that he is either.
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Sep 25, 09 11:45 AM
Boy, have you got that right, Mr. Rodney! Suddenly recalling that there's an election coming up, Chris Nuzzi's Republican minders have put a mirror under his nose, discovered that he is still breathing, and now they're frantically feeding him speaking lines in order to demonstrate that fact to the voters.

Until the bosses started jerking the strings to make him jump about, Chris Nuzzi gave new meaning to the term "low profile" on the Town Board. He said little at all, and even less that ...more
By fidelis (199), westhampton beach on Sep 25, 09 4:36 PM
2 members liked this comment
Mr. Nuzzi. For 3 and 1/2 years he sits and contributes next to zero. And now he's got religion again when he is challenged in his inadequacy and non-performance by two expertly qualified and capable women, Sally Pope and Bridget Fleming. Campaign time for him is calling his old friend and mentor Heaney for some ideas to push that might make him seem some what up-to-date. A smile and a photo with some cute children isn't enough to pull it off this time. We've waited four years for him to do or contribute ...more
By foodie (74), Remsenburg on Sep 29, 09 3:36 PM