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Sep 30, 2009 12:40 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Independence Party leader steps down after row with state chair

Sep 30, 2009 12:40 PM

Following a dispute with party brass over the endorsements of some Southampton Town candidates, one of two leaders of the Southampton Independence Party has resigned from his post as promised.

Alex Gregor left his position as chairman of the Independence Party last month in protest over state level party leaders disregarding the local committee’s wishes to endorse Democrats Sally Pope and Bridget Fleming for Southampton Town Board.

State leaders had promised to defer to the local committee on local endorsements—and the local committee had voted unanimously in favor of Ms. Pope and Ms. Fleming—but changed their minds when the time came to announce who the Independence Party was backing. New York State Independence Party Chairman Frank McKay overrode the Southampton committee’s decision and instead nominated Republicans Chris Nuzzi and Jim Malone for Town Board.

At least five other members of the party’s screening committee also stepped down from their positions over the flap. “A lot of members of the Southampton Town committee were very discouraged,” Mr. Gregor said.

Vice Chairman Bill Pell, on the other hand, decided to stay in his position after saying in July that he, too, would step down.

Mr. Pell, a Southampton resident who is running for Southampton Town Trustee on the Democratic and Independence party lines, said he offered his resignation but was asked by Mr. McKay to stay on as vice chairman.

“I said I was going to resign and I spoke to him, and he said he wanted me to stay on,” Mr. Pell said. “I don’t know why.”

Mr. Pell said the dispute over the endorsements has thrown the party into disarray. “We’re in the process of regrouping,” Mr. Pell said. “Right now, I’m just doing my own thing.”

Mr. Gregor’s resignation leaves Mr. McKay in charge of the Southampton Independence Party. Mr. McKay did not return calls for comment.

“Am I happy that we were overriden? No,” Mr. Gregor said. “It is not the nicest world in politics.”

Mr. Gregor said part of the reason he resigned was to spend more time tending to his campaign to be elected the town’s next highway superintendent. Mr. Gregor, a Hampton Bays resident, is running on the Democratic, Independence and Working Families party lines. “I can’t do both jobs effectively,” he said.

The Southampton Independence Party is expected to reconvene to elect a new chairman sometime early next year.

Smaller Government

Southampton Town Board candidate Jim Malone, a Republican, is running on a traditional Republican campaign platform of smaller government and less taxes, yet he has several proposals to rake in more revenue for town coffers.

But those proposals, Mr. Malone says, will not make town government larger or cost it more money.

Mr. Malone of Hampton Bays, a senior deputy clerk for Suffolk County, is a former public defender and trader for Prudential and Citicorp. He was the Southampton Republican Party’s nominee to run for town supervisor against incumbent Republican Supervisor Linda Kabot before backing out of the race, citing concerns over a politically divisive primary.

He highlights his financial experience as a potential strength to the town, which is shouldering millions in debt due to faulty accounting practices dating back more than five years.

Mr. Malone said several of his proposals to bring in more revenue to the town would not expand government. Rather, the proposals would increase the town’s effectiveness in enforcing its own laws, he said.

To increase the collection of parking ticket fines, Mr. Malone is proposing that the town create a parking violations bureau. The bureau would be staffed by trainees from the police force and would not result in new hires, he said. “It basically pays for itself” through the collection of fines, Mr. Malone said.

If elected, Mr. Malone would also seek to expand code enforcement, which is a facet of the Southampton Law Department, he said. He named overcrowded housing and illegal rentals as problem areas affecting the quality of life of residents.

Mr. Malone said many people violate town housing laws and go undetected because code enforcement is understaffed.

The candidate said code enforcement could be bolstered by redistributing staff from other departments at no cost to the town. He declined to say what staff could be eligible for redistribution.

“I know that we can shift assets,” Mr. Malone said. “We shift folks around where the need is.”

At a recent forum on immigration reform at the Full Gospel Church in Southampton on September 23, Mr. Malone said he did not regret stepping out of the race for supervisor. Speaking before forum attendees, he said a showdown in a primary could have divided the Southampton Republican Party.

“It just seemed like it was the selfless thing to do,” Mr. Malone said. “We were going into court. There were going to be lawsuits, there were going to be judges. I thought it was better to step back and avoid that. I thought I was doing the right thing at the time.”

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So typical of Gregor to quit. It reflects his employment history. He simply made a promise to the Democratic bosses that he could deliver and it turns out he couldn't. Now the Dems are stuck with him, he will be a drag on their tails come November. Kudos to Bill Pell for stepping up to the plate!!
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Sep 29, 09 1:44 PM
Alex Gregor was dealt a low blow by one of the most ruthless and conniving political bosses on Long Island. He and the local committee were given free rein in candidate selection and promises were made that turned out to be worthless. His fault, if any in this sordid mess, is that he believed his party leader and took him at his word. The "Big Cheese" called his honor into question and Alex Gregor is an honorable man. He did the right thing.
By foodie (74), Remsenburg on Sep 29, 09 3:54 PM
2 members liked this comment
funny who is on the local committee? I'm local and I wouldn't vote for Pope person...and still haven't heard too much on who Flemming is? What has Flemming done to be elected for our town?
By UNITED states CITIZEN (207), SOUTHAMPTON on Oct 1, 09 6:53 AM