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Apr 2, 2019 5:17 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Democratic And Independence Party Members Scramble To Submit Petitions To Force Primaries In June

Eileen Duffy is carrying a petition to run for Southampton Town Board as a Democratic Party candidate.
Apr 4, 2019 12:38 PM

With a deadline of Thursday, April 4, looming, some Democratic Party and Independence Party members in Southampton Town say they are petitioning to force primary elections in June.

Eileen Duffy, whom the Southampton Democratic Committee, of which she is a member, nominated to run for a Southampton Town Trustee seat in November, is seeking instead to force a primary for one of the two Town Board seats on the fall ballot. She has gathered more than 500 signatures; only 375 are needed to get on the ballot.

With her on the petition she is circulating, and asking party members to sign, are Jay Schneiderman for town supervisor; John Bouvier for Town Board; Ann Welker, Fred Havemeyer, David Mayer, Andrew Brosnan and Eric Shultz for the Board of Trustees; and Brette Haefeli for town justice.

Omitted from the petition was Craig Catalanotto, whom the Democratic Committee initially nominated for Town Board. GOP Town Board member Christine Scalera is term limited and will not seek re-election, Mr. Bouvier is seeking a second, four-year term on the board.

Democratic Committee Chairman Gordon Herr, who plans to run against Town Tax Receiver Theresa Kiernan, a Republican, also was omitted from Ms. Duffy’s petition. Mr. Havemeyer and Mr. Shultz, both former Trustees, are not listed on the petitions being circulated by the town committee.

Ms. Duffy said she initially wanted to screen with committee leaders for a Town Board position, but instead was offered a slot to run for Trustee as a stepping-stone to other town positions.

Ms. Duffy’s actions may point to a rift in the party.

Mr. Herr said on Tuesday that the petition Ms. Duffy is circulating was not sanctioned by the committee, and that other party members were circulating petitions that reflected the candidates decided upon by the committee in February.

“This is not an official petition from the party,” he said of Ms. Duffy’s effort. “At the nomination convention, we nominate people, and they’re on the petition. That makes it official.

“At the convention, she thanked everyone, she made a speech—and then she went out and created a different petition. So that’s not an official petition.”

He added, “I’m not saying she can’t do it. She’s perfectly within her rights to do it. But it’s not an official party petition.”

If Ms. Duffy files her petitions this week and they are accepted, it would force a primary for the Town Board seats on June 26.

Mr. Herr said Ms. Duffy’s move to have a primary has “angered” some members of the party.

“Eileen Duffy was dishonest and duplicitous, and if she wanted to be nominated for a position, she should have done so at the nominating convention,” he said. “That’s the bottom line.”

Ms. Duffy argued that the nominating process was rushed this year.

“The convention was scheduled on very short notice,” she said in a text message on Tuesday. “Many people were not able to attend. I did not have enough time to whip votes from committee members. Many members refused to attend due to the short notice.”

Mr. Herr said other than earlier deadlines than in recent years, the nominating convention was held the way it has always been.

He explained that everyone had the ability to stand up and talk to the committee about who they are and what they stand for. Before the vote, Mr. Herr said, he “slowly and clearly” said, “Are there any other nominations? Are there any other nominations? Are there any other nominations?”

“At that point, anybody who is a committee member can nominate anyone else who is at that meeting. That is the procedure. That’s the way it’s been. That’s the way it’s always been,” he said.

This year, resumes of the candidates were passed out to members of the committee, according to Mr. Herr, providing more transparency than in years past.

It was a point challenged by some committee members. Committee member Julie Sheehan of East Quogue, a supporter of Ms. Duffy, said the process was not as transparent as what is being described by Mr. Herr.

While resumes were able to be viewed, when they were sent out to the committee members, the candidates were already separated into positions the committee thought were best for the candidate, she said. So Ms. Duffy was listed as a Trustee candidate, even though she initially wanted to screen for Town Board.

Ms. Sheehan said she collected signatures for Ms. Duffy and her petition.

“In a democracy, I’m free to carry petitions for candidates I believe in,” she said. “We should be putting forth candidates who get out there to the people. That’s what I’m interested in. That’s what I believe in, and that’s what I believe the Democratic Party is about.

“I think none of it’s the end of the world. It’s a bunch of people trying to make good decisions at the local level,” she added.

Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor also is circulating a petition, targeting Independence Party voters, in an effort to take the party endorsement away from Mr. Schneiderman.

Mr. Gregor did not respond to numerous questions seeking confirmation that he was circulating the petition, but the Independence Party chair, State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., confirmed last month that Mr. Gregor had printed out petitions.

Ms. Duffy also confirmed that petitions were being circulated among Independence Party members, and that her name was listed for Town Board nominee on Mr. Gregor’s ballot.

Along with her name were Don Law for Trustee, as well as Ms. Welker, Mr. Shultz and Mr. Havemeyer, who are listed as Democratic candidates on Ms. Duffy’s petition.

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Fred Havemeyer and Eric Shultz for Trustee or even Town Board.
By Resident tax (186), Hampton bays ny on Apr 3, 19 11:56 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By banned (191), Hampton Bays on Apr 3, 19 2:07 PM
Fred Havemeyer : Yes.
The Rest : Absolutely Hell No.
By themarlinspike (542), southampton on Apr 3, 19 2:22 PM
What office is she really running for??? What's her dogs name??? What is her credentials???
Fred and Eric, can they save the sinking ship that about to sink??? My vote would be ro clean the deck...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Apr 3, 19 7:32 PM
It appears she is working both sides of the street, at the expense of Southampton Town. Do we really need a person like Duffy, who seems to have zero integrity? It's not surprising that the Quogue Village voters made certain she never took a seat on their Board of Trustees.
By HamptonClassic (132), Southampton on Apr 3, 19 7:46 PM
I cannot conceive of a greater recipe for chaos then having these people in office.
By Southampton Patrick (13), Southampton on Apr 3, 19 7:47 PM
If Independence Party Members are swayed by lowlife Alex Gregor, they won’t be around very long.
By CPalmer (122), Southampton on Apr 3, 19 8:22 PM
This is the great American process and she is participating and contributing to it. Let's all participate by voting and keeping the rancor of these last years out of the conversation. Maybe everyone come up with some good ideas instead of slinging mud.
By AL (83), southampton on Apr 5, 19 10:46 AM
I would no vote for one Democrat! The party of death. Killing babties and gun confiscation.!- Destroying our country little by little even at the local level !!
By bayview (160), Southampton on Apr 9, 19 1:08 PM
Straw man (noun): an intentionally misrepresented proposition that is set up because it is easier to defeat than an opponent's real argument.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Apr 9, 19 1:11 PM
Fred and Eric, save the ship...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Apr 15, 19 8:47 AM
Fred and Eric, save the ship...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Apr 15, 19 8:50 AM