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Jan 20, 2010 1:21 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Race for vacant seat on Southampton Town Board heats up

Jan 20, 2010 1:21 PM

The race leading up to the March 9 special election, which will fill the Southampton Town Board seat vacated by Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, will be brief—Democratic Bridget Fleming and Republican William Hughes have less than two months to win over the majority of the town’s voters—but contentious.

Ms. Fleming, who was named the Democratic candidate on January 14, got a leg up in the race on Monday when the Southampton Town Independence Party announced it is endorsing her. Her election to the Town Board could give Ms. Throne-Holst—who is not registered with any political party but was the Democratic Party’s nominee—a political partner.

The supervisor has already struggled with the Republican/Conservative majority in trying to move some legislation and appointments forward. If Mr. Hughes, who became the Republican Party’s nominee on January 13, is elected, three Republicans and a Conservative would flank Ms. Throne-Holst on the dais in Town Hall, potentially solidifying the political advantage.

The Independence Party bestowed its endorsement on Ms. Fleming, a lawyer from Noyac, at a press conference in the parking lot of the King Kullen in Hampton Bays. Ms. Fleming, who did not win the Independence endorsement when she ran for the Town Board in November, said that she was thrilled. “It certainly adds to the momentum that the campaign is experiencing,” she said.

Mr. Hughes, a lieutenant in the Southampton Town Police Department, has not been endorsed by any other parties, but said he anticipates undertaking an aggressive campaign in the coming weeks.

Mike Anthony, the former chairman of the Southampton Town Democratic Committee, suggested that the Independence Party endorsement is significant in local elections. “The Independence Party is able to swing elections in the town,” he said.

New York State Independence Party Chairman Frank McKay endorsed Town Board members Jim Malone and Chris Nuzzi in November over the objections of local party leaders who wanted to support Ms. Fleming and running mate and incumbent Sally Pope. Current Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor, who was chairman of the local Independence Party’s town committee at the time, stepped down in protest.

Marietta Seaman, a former town clerk, councilwoman and Republican Party chairwoman, expressed dismay at the Independence party passing over Mr. Hughes.

“It certainly would be an advantage to have additional lines,” Ms. Seaman said. “Mr. McKay will have to address why they didn’t give it to Bridget the first go-around and didn’t give it to someone with more Republican values this time.”

Neither of the candidates will be getting the endorsement of the Conservative Party, its county chairman Edward Walsh Jr. said Wednesday, and no additional candidates will enter the race under the Conservative banner.

Mr. Walsh said he would not endorse Mr. Hughes because he was not involved in the Republican Party’s process of selecting him as their candidate. He said GOP leaders at the town level contacted him after last week’s convention and asked him to endorse Mr. Hughes, but Mr. Walsh favored another candidate for the Republican nomination, Rebecca Molinaro, and said he felt she was unfairly penalized because she works for New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., who left the Republican Party last year to join the Independence Party.

“I’m freeing the Conservatives out there to vote their conscience,” he said.

Mr. Anthony said he is hopeful that Ms. Fleming will win the seat, and is worried that the Republicans have already shown how Town Board politics will play out if she doesn’t.

Last week, Mr. Nuzzi, fellow Republican Town Board member Nancy Graboski and Mr. Malone banded together to appoint William Berkoski Jr. to the Town Planning Board over the objections of Ms. Throne-Holst, who accused the majority of breaking its promise to make new appointments only after publicly interviewing candidates. Mr. Berkoski was previously interviewed for a board seat.

“They sent very clear signals of what would happen the other day,” Mr. Anthony said. “They’re not interested in making appointments on people’s merits. They’d rather put their cronies in those positions and not go through a deliberative process.” Southampton Town will become “government by cronyism” if a total of four Republicans/Conservatives end up on the board after March 9, he went on to say.

Ms. Throne-Holst also cautioned voters against electing a super majority on the Town Board. “If Hughes is elected, it will be a 4-1 board, and the town has been through that in the past, and it has not served the constituents well,” the supervisor said. “The public elected me because they’re looking for real public service. They’re looking for balance and an element of change.”

Ms. Throne-Holst is campaigning for Ms. Fleming. “I think of her as a joint-purpose partner,” she said. Ms. Fleming, who credited Ms. Throne-Holst in the fall for recruiting her to the Democratic ticket, said she plans to work closely with the supervisor.

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“I’m freeing the Conservatives out there to vote their conscience,” he said.

I am sure they will be happy to hear that you have released them from your mind control machine - for now.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Jan 21, 10 12:10 PM
Last time around my family and I were impressed by Ms Fleming’s credentials but when we saw her at one of the community forums she ducked a question of whether or not she would use taxpayer funds to build a hiring hall for the criminals who have jumped or borders. Instead she regurgitated the garbage that comes out of Tim Bishop's mouth, "You can't deport 12 million criminals..." This cost her the 6 votes in my immediate household. Now we seem to have a choice between someone who will aid and abet ...more
By bird (829), Southampton on Jan 21, 10 12:52 PM
1 member liked this comment
At this point with a special election partys do not play a huge roll in the election process. You can be endorsed by 15 different parties, but at the end of the day you are getting in your car to Vote for 1 of those two people.
By farmlocal (83), Southampton on Jan 21, 10 1:01 PM
“I’m freeing the Conservatives out there to vote their conscience,” he said.

thank you so very much....how wonderful to have your blessing. Aren't we lucky to have party leaders who allow us to vote how we want? To actually give us the okay to act as free people?

time to celebrate.....where's the purple ink?
By Tim Tanuka (38), Southampton on Jan 21, 10 1:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
So good to see that this reporter and the Southampton Press has decided for the people of Southampton that the narrative for this campaign is going to be written out of the Democrat campaign playbook. How did that work out for the liberlas and main stream media in Massacheusetts?
By the way did the Press just miss it or was the Democrat nomnating convention not open to the media the way the Republican convention was. Your collective lack of integrity is showing when all you can cover is a staged ...more
By DJII13 (155), Hampton Bays on Jan 21, 10 1:53 PM
Are you talking about the same newspaper that endorsed Linda Kabot?!
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Jan 21, 10 3:01 PM
I believe he is talking about the same newspaper that endorsed Bridget Fleming (as per her website)
By AlwaysLocal (292), southampton on Jan 22, 10 12:56 AM
For the record - The Southampton Press was at the Southampton Democratic Committee nominating convention. Reporter Jessica DiNapoli witnessed the unanimous endorsement of Bridget Fleming by the committee. Whether or not her editor chose to run the story is not within the committee's influence.
By Hank Beck (8), Westhampton on Jan 22, 10 2:29 PM
HB: "Whether or not her editor chose to run the story"

What does that mean, Mr. Beck? What are you suggesting has been omitted?
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jan 23, 10 8:19 PM
Bridget has the right credentials and she's not owing to anyone or any special interest. I'm concerned that Hughes won't be able to deal with the Town Police Department in a balanced and fair manner. The taxpayers will end up paying the bill for any allegiance he may have to his employer.
By Dodger (161), Southampton Village on Jan 21, 10 2:57 PM
You should be more concerned with ATH & Bridget giving the town away to the special interest groups and the Town Police Dept. Bridget is a liberal and we don't want or need her NYC liberal views in SH. She had some talking points during the election but all she did was point fingers and criticize others. When asked a direct question in October about the 2010 budget she could not answer and said she did not get a chance to read it, but yet she criticized it. What a joke of a candidate. Should Bridget ...more
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Jan 23, 10 11:46 AM
Peoplefirst I am talking about this newspaper.
Dodger you may know your candidate, but you clearly do not know Mr. Highes beyond what is being written by those with their own agenda who likewise have not bothered to speak with the man on the issue.
By DJII13 (155), Hampton Bays on Jan 21, 10 3:29 PM
i agree with the article by bird of southampton.....great point there my friend about the illegals and we better not use tax-payers money to give those people a hiring hall.................give me a break................
By paulgabe1 (29), riverhead on Jan 21, 10 4:40 PM
Bird and paulgabe1
The hiring hall is a Village issue not a town issue....Mr Epley is not in favor ..so don't worry..
That is not our town main issue!!!
By Bel (86), southampton on Jan 21, 10 6:59 PM
If "hiring hall is a Village issue not a town issue," why would Ms. Fleming take a public position on it?
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jan 21, 10 9:29 PM
First of all Mr Eply alreadt tried to put one on land the village jointly purchased with the town, secondly, ATH is on record as being in favor of doing "something(?)" with a third party. It is definetly a town issue.
By bird (829), Southampton on Jan 23, 10 5:19 PM
Heata Up? Race is over.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Jan 22, 10 6:59 AM
If all Mr. Hughes offers is to call Ms. Fleming "a lady from Manhattan" in contrast to his "deep and strong" Noyac roots, he's in trouble. Much as we may like candidates with local background, competence trumps roots any time. And if anyone thinks William Hughes has more ability than Bridget Fleming, just remember this is the candidate who was nominated in a landslide by the Republican organization that has given us near-bankruptcy, crony government, runaway development, and appointments by steamroller. ...more
By fidelis (199), westhampton beach on Jan 22, 10 10:51 AM
Are you sure it was the republican's that put this town in financial trouble. Rememer we had a democrate majority during the time these deficits happened.
What did they do about it??
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Jan 23, 10 11:52 AM
fidelis, is that from the DiPirro/Lang playbook, or will you Dems EVER join the 21st century and try to come up with new attack modes?
By Terry (380), Southampton on Jan 22, 10 11:56 AM
1 member liked this comment
fidelis, Mr. Hughes has much to offer. That the Southampton Press only chose to report one partially accurate comment out of so many is more a reflection of their approach to journalism and this race than it is of Mr. Hughes. However given the second part of your comment it appears that Mr. Highes could have given the second coming of the Gettysburg Address and your opinion would be unchanged.
By DJII13 (155), Hampton Bays on Jan 22, 10 11:58 AM
No such thing as Dem cronies in Fidelisland. Fleming has NO community record, none. She uses her asst. DA position which ended in 2001 as qualifying her the Town Board. She is a media creation, period. Just in case it is important to Fidelis (since I have been personally attacked by him before) 30 plus years as a taxpayer of Southampton Town.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Jan 22, 10 5:54 PM
Four of you have replied to my comment, but only one of you has even attempted to contest the substance of what I said, which was that the Republicans have given us "near-bankruptcy, crony government, runaway development, and appointmentrs by steamroller." Reg rep at least asserts that there was a Democratic majority when the deficits occurred, which is only partially true and ignores the fact that the then-Republican Supervisors were the chief financial officers of the town, but at least she addressed ...more
By fidelis (199), westhampton beach on Feb 3, 10 4:44 PM
Has either candidate said ANYTHING about what he proposes to do if elected? Anything concrete? So far this is a beauty pageant.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 22, 10 6:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Jan 22, 10 6:26 PM
Well, if it IS "a beauty pageant," that lady from Manhattan is a shoo-in!

I'd like to think the campaigns will be a little less frivolous,
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jan 23, 10 11:50 AM

Mrs. Fleming has a lot to offer other than beauty, and been smart..
By Bel (86), southampton on Jan 23, 10 7:07 PM
I would hope so, Bel -- did you miss the second part of my Comment?
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jan 23, 10 8:15 PM
As this "This race for vacant seat... heats up," It's interesting to note that Lt. William Hughes is still currently employed as a police officer. Obviously he knows if he wins the election, he'll have to resign his position. In the meantime, he seems to want to play it safe by keeping his job lest he lose. Has anyone bothered to note that New York State Election Law, Article 17, section 110, sub-division 3 as it applies to police commissioners and police officer prohibits "any person who, being ...more
By WingMan (8), Southampton on Jan 24, 10 1:58 AM
That law was repealed years ago under Gov Cuomo.
By Terry (380), Southampton on Jan 24, 10 10:05 AM
Sorry but you are wrong and WingMan is correct The 2009 NYS Board of Elections Law reads exactly as follows;

§ 17-110. Misdemeanors concerning police commissioners or
officers or members of any police force.

Any person who, being a police commissioner or any officer or
member of any police force in this state:

1. Uses or threatens or attempts to use his official power or authority,
in any manner, directly or indirectly, in aid of or against any political party,
organization, ...more
By foodie (74), Remsenburg on Jan 24, 10 11:30 AM
There exists an Attorney General opinion thats renders this moot. It is easy enough to google, being as it is 3 pages long, it made no sense to cut and paste.
By Terry (380), Southampton on Jan 25, 10 10:44 PM
After reading the Fleming campaign website, a few questions come to mind:

1) Where do you stand on the question of requiring STPD cops to retire after their twentieth year of service, as required by the Town code?

2) Are you aware that the Town is paying more than a million dollars every year in salaries to cops who should have been retired rather than kept on the payroll?

3) Do you favor an addition to the Town code that prohibits STPD officers from appearing in uniform ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 24, 10 2:37 AM
Give it a rest
By Terry (380), Southampton on Jan 24, 10 10:06 AM
1 member liked this comment

Your posts are getting like that same old song being played on the radio over and over and over.
By Bayman1 (297), Sag Harbor on Jan 24, 10 12:37 PM
Please stop picking on the STPD. The fact is they do a great job and are fairly paid and receive good benefits. They are not the problem in the Town of Southampton. We are lucky they are willing to serve more than 20 years and provide the town with their experience. And whats wrong with wearing the uniform when off duty-it displays authority and keeps our community safe.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Jan 24, 10 11:53 AM
Our STPD does a very good job but do you have any suggestions on how to pay down the hugh deficit that exists within that dept. That is a big problem wouldn't you say?
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Jan 25, 10 7:10 PM
East End
highhatsize is talking about wearing uniforms at Town Board meeting when off duty to show authority with the TB.
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Jan 25, 10 7:15 PM
While it is true that the Town Council is squandering millions of dollars on STPD patronage, this is not its most egregious failing. That is, after all, only money.

Worse still is the extraordinarily low ethical bar that the Republican Council members have set for themselves in handing out political appointments to party colleagues, and their belief, apparently, that a promise made while campaigning doesn't become a lie afterward if left unfulfilled
So it came as no surprise that ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 24, 10 7:36 PM
What is the "misbehavior" you are referring to?..... and who are these purported "political masters"?
By Bayman1 (297), Sag Harbor on Jan 26, 10 7:19 PM
Attorney General Opn. No. 99-35 addresses a number of issues; one of those being whether a city police officer could hold a county elected position. Whether a town police officer can hold a town elected position is not addressed. Even so, the decision goes on to concur with 17-110 (3) which make it a misdemeanor offense for a police officer to solicit or accept campaign contributions for himself or anyone else.
By WingMan (8), Southampton on Jan 26, 10 10:09 AM
Why can't the police run for public office? Are they not citizens who deserve a right to run for public office? This does not seem right.
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Jan 26, 10 11:28 AM
Police officers can and have run for public office.
By DJII13 (155), Hampton Bays on Jan 26, 10 11:41 AM
In reading the AG's opinion it appears as though the AGS office believe this section of election law refers to ON duty activities.

However, FYI SHNative, it was not till the mid 80's that Gov Cuomo gave POs the right to partake in the political process.
By Terry (380), Southampton on Jan 26, 10 2:15 PM
Thank you for the info.....so as I read the comments above, He can run for public office but cannot raise money.
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Jan 26, 10 9:58 PM
Nail on the head, SHNative. The law was designed to prevent abuse of police power. Aside from being highly unethical to solicit or collect contributions while still a police officer it was made illegal to prevent the abuse of a highly visible (and highly powerful) public position from being misused. There is only a breach of the public trust if in fact campaign money is solicited or accepted while still employed as a police officer. There's some simple remedies to prevent committing these misdemeanor ...more
By WingMan (8), Southampton on Jan 27, 10 10:22 AM
Wingman you seem to have some interest in continually attempting to frame this in a criminal light, your crocadile tear disclaimer not withstanding. Unless you have some undeclared expertise in these matters, you are like the rest of us, just lay people drawing a conclusion from an obscure legal brief, and in your case, a conclusion that suits the axe you are grinding.
By DJII13 (155), Hampton Bays on Jan 27, 10 12:13 PM
DJ......I just looked this up from the citation above. It is far from a "obscure legal brief" It is NYS election law.
Check it out.....here is the link, it is on page 402.....http://www.elections.state.ny.us/NYSBOE/download/law/2009NYElectionLaw.pdf
After reading the state law on this, what is he going to do?
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Jan 27, 10 11:43 PM
My reference to obscure was the citation of an Attorney General opiriion addressing the issue.
Obscure - 2. not clear to the understanding; hard to perceive: obscure motivations
One reading of the section of the law you cite on page 402 of 548 pages would seem to suggest that thiis relates to "use his offical power or authority".
Again I wold suggest that is one reading, and you, me, Terry, or Wingman may read it and come to different conclusions at to how that affects this particular ...more
By DJII13 (155), Hampton Bays on Jan 28, 10 9:29 AM
Sorry sloppy fingers - the sentence above should read - It makes none of us right or wrong, good or bad, just simply not authoratative.
By DJII13 (155), Hampton Bays on Jan 28, 10 9:31 AM