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Nov 8, 2011 11:33 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson Has Slight Lead

Nov 9, 2011 12:59 PM

Incumbent East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson held a narrow lead over his challenger, Zachary Cohen, after Tuesday’s votes were counted, although Democrats did not concede defeat, saying absentee ballots would decide the race next week.

The Suffolk County Board of Elections, with all 19 districts reported at about 1 a.m. Wednesday, showed Mr. Wilkinson, a Republican, with 3,066, or 51 percent, of the vote, and Mr. Cohen, an unaffiliated voter endorsed by Democrats, with 2,889 or 48 percent.

Mr. Cohen’s running mates, Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc, appeared to have won a six-way race for two Town Board seats that are being vacated at the end of the year by Councilman Pete Hammerle and Councilwoman Julia Prince, both fellow Democrats.

Highway Superintendent Scott King, a Democrat whose bid for a third term was hounded by accusations of harassment and abuse of his employees, was soundly defeated by challenger Stephen K. Lynch, a Republican. The Suffolk County Board of Elections count showed Mr. Lynch with 3,567 votes, or nearly 60 percent, to Mr. King’s 2,387.

Incumbent Town Justice Lisa Rana, a Republican, also defeated her challenger, Stephen Grossman, a Democrat. The Board of Elections showed Ms. Rana with 63 percent of the vote, or 3,701 votes, and Mr. Grossman with 2,178 votes.

Board of Election results also showed seven Republican Trustee candidates—Stephanie Talmage-Forsberg, Timothy Bock, Diane McNally, Sean McCaffrey, Lynn Mendelman and Nathaniel Miller—winning seats, along with two Democrats, Stephen Lester and Deborah Klughers. Because results were close among some of the 18 candidates, absentee ballots could ultimately determine the makeup of the board.

Assessors Jeanne Nielsen and Jill Massa ran uncontested races. Ms. Nielsen, a Democrat, received 4,509 votes and Ms. Massa, a Republican, had 4,047 votes, according to the Board of Elections.

Mr. Wilkinson gave a cautiously optimistic victory speech at Indian Wells Tavern at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, when he was sitting on a lead of about 260 votes. He acknowledged the closeness of the race and the strong showing his challenger had at the polls, as well as the defeat of his two Town Board running mates, Steven Gaines and Richard Haeg.

“I’m proud of the entire team, regardless of whether they won or not,” Mr. Wilkinson said. “I believe that you learn as you govern. I have certainly learned from this vote. I thought I didn’t have to smile. I guess I have to smile a little bit more.”

Democrats said about 1,000 absentee ballots had been sent out and about 750 had been returned by Tuesday, although more could still come in over the next few days. They said they expect to gain votes when the ballots are counted because about 500 went to registered Democrats and about 250 went to Republicans.

“I don’t know why, but I’m not nervous about these kinds of things,” Mr. Cohen said at the law office of Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin & Quartararo LLP, where Democrats had gathered to track results. “I have no control over it.”

“We ran a great campaign,” he added. “They gave us some openings, but it’s not like they just lost it.”

Democrats declared Ms. Overby and Mr. Van Scoyoc winners at about 10 p.m., after they had tallied votes from 10 districts. The conference room of the law office, where party officials had been tensely tracking results until then, erupted with applause.

“I’m very grateful and blessed to live in this town of people that listen,” said Ms. Overby, who lives in Amagansett and served a seven-year term on the Planning Board that ended last year. She added that she would represent people whether they voted for her or not.

“It’s more than I ever expected,” said Mr. Van Scoyoc, who lives in Northwest Woods and owns a building company and charter boat business. “I’m just very grateful to the town of East Hampton.”

Board of Elections results showed Mr. Van Scoyoc being the top vote getter among Town Board candidates, with 2,689 votes, and Ms. Overby in second, with 2,475. They defeated Mr. Haeg (1,738) and Mr. Gaines (1,702), and Independence Party candidates Bill Mott (1,610) and Marilyn Behan (1,331).

The Town Board race was unusually crowded, with six candidates vying for two seats. Mr. Hammerle and Ms. Prince opted not to run, so there were no incumbents. Republicans were hoping to snag an all-Republican board, while Democrats were fighting to maintain a presence, and the Independence Party made the rare move of fielding its own candidates rather than cross-endorsing candidates from other parties.

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does anyone know how many absentee ballots are out their? Most of those votes tend to lean democrat. Im sure Bill is not sleeping comfortably tonight.
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Nov 9, 11 6:44 AM
1 member liked this comment
Odds are that Cohen is the new Supervisor. East Hampton dems are masterful at absentee ballots. I got 6 applications in the mail from them!
By PQ (9), Riverhead on Nov 9, 11 6:48 AM
Really? In Riverhead? Hmmmm . . . not surprised.
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Nov 9, 11 10:25 PM
I think the absentee ballots in EH traditionally go 2-to-1 for the Dems, so they could tilt this toward Cohen -- depending, as razza asks, on how many are out there.
By bailey (52), East Hampton on Nov 9, 11 8:55 AM
Republicans were bitch-slapped by voters. Even if Wilkie pulls it out he's lost any political momentum. Amazing turn of events. Just shows that in local politics style counts. McGintee failed because of arrogance. Wilkinson is facing the same fate. Lesson for all parties here.
By harbor (411), East Hampton on Nov 9, 11 9:25 AM
Bill should now better. Results don't matter. Pick up my leaves. That matters
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Nov 9, 11 1:19 PM
If Bill had the strength of character to admit to voters that he could be arrogant at times and would try to listen a little better he would have won by a landslide. But he's incapable of admitting mistakes and voters abhor that quality in elected officials. Leaves were just a sideshow.
By harbor (411), East Hampton on Nov 9, 11 1:51 PM
1 member liked this comment
exactly why Kabot lost
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Nov 9, 11 2:32 PM
Bottom line is Bill inherited an absolute mess and cleaned it up. He delivered and straightened the towns finances out. If someone voted against him because of his arrogance they are pretty dumb. I will take a good doctor with bad bedside manner as opposed to a bad doctor with good bedside manner.
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Nov 10, 11 8:58 AM
Personally, I prefer a good doctor with a good bedside manner. Pity you have such low expectations.
By harbor (411), East Hampton on Nov 10, 11 12:51 PM
Fulsome praises to Wilkinson in his political retirement.
By highhatsize (4182), East Quogue on Nov 9, 11 4:35 PM
A quick flip through the pictures reveals who ate gilbert grape
By C Law (350), Water Mill on Nov 10, 11 4:25 PM
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