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Feb 18, 2010 1:37 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton political committees must hold off on choosing special election nominees

Feb 18, 2010 1:37 PM

The Southampton Town Republican and Democratic committees were poised this week to select candidates for the upcoming special election to fill the Town Board seat vacated by Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, but a state regulation that prohibits the designation of candidates before an election date is set had them changing their plans at the last minute.

The date of the election has not yet been determined. Democratic Committee Chairman Gordon Herr said that he is hoping that happens during the Town Board’s reorganization meeting on Friday.

Republicans had planned to hold their official nominating convention on Wednesday night and Democrats planned to have theirs on Thursday night.

New York State election procedures prohibits the parties from making an official selection before a special election is formally scheduled, Suffolk County Board of Elections Commissioner Anita Katz confirmed Wednesday.

Ms. Throne-Holst said earlier this week that she is working with the Suffolk County Board of Elections to make the election date either March 2 or March 9, to coincide with other special elections occurring across the county.

The committees have already gone through screening processes and have whittled down the list of hopefuls to a select few. The Republicans, who are considering Dr. Tod Granger of Noyac, Scott Horowitz of East Quogue, William Hughes of Hampton Bays, and Rebecca Molinaro of Remsenburg, were scheduled to hold their nominating convention at Villa Tuscano in Hampton Bays on Wednesday evening. Reached Wednesday afternoon, GOP Chairman Ernest Wruck said that he was aware of the state regulation and declined to comment on whether his party would be nominating a candidate that night. He also said that there would be a Republican Committee meeting next week, as well.

The Democrats, who planned to hold their convention today, January 7, at the Southampton Inn at 7 p.m., will hold a meeting instead and will not formally select a nominee at that time, Mr. Herr said. But the party leadership is expected to identify their pick.

“We will announce that the screening committee and the executive committee has selected a candidate, who will probably be Bridget [Fleming],” Mr. Herr said.

Ms. Fleming ran unsuccessfully for Town Board on the Democratic ticket in November.

Other potential Democratic candidates have included Brad Bender of Flanders, who serves as the president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association, and Chris Garvey of Hampton Bays, who was defeated in November when he ran for a seat on the Southampton Town Board of Trustees.

The Southampton Town Independence Party, which will not hold a formal convention, will select its candidate in the coming weeks, according to Chairman Steve Lynch. He declined to identify any of the candidates the Independence Party is considering.

Ms. Throne-Holst, who ran for supervisor on the Democratic ticket, had said in December that she wanted to see the Republicans and Democrats come together to select a Town Board candidate both could agree on, eliminating the need for potentially divisive, contentious campaigns and election. “In a perfect world, that is what we would do,” Ms. Throne-Holst said this week. “But I doubt that would happen.”

Mr. Herr said he didn’t think such an agreement could be reached, and that doing so would defeat the purpose of the election. “It would be taking the decision away from the voters,” he said. “It’s highly impractical and illogical.”

The Democrats screened a number of people and came up with a short list of prospects, Mr. Herr said. Then, the party’s nine-member executive board interviewed all of the candidates on the short list, and picked the one they thought would make the best Town Board member—Ms. Fleming—though other candidates can be nominated at the official convention.

“We are looking for someone independent, someone who will be a consensus candidate, and someone who is dedicated and committed to being of service to Southampton Town,” Mr. Herr said.

The process of selecting Republican candidates is slightly different. Each of the four people who were screened—Dr. Granger, Mr. Horowitz, Mr. Hughes, and Ms. Molinaro—were to speak to all of the Republicans at the convention, according to Mr. Wruck. Each candidate will most likely be nominated by members from the floor, and anyone else who wishes to run for the open seat could try for a nomination as well.

After the nominating process, the committee will cast secret ballots for who they want to nominate, Mr. Wruck said, noting that the votes are weighted depending on votes cast in the last gubernatorial race. Whichever of the four or more hopefuls vying for the seat garners the most votes during the convention becomes the official candidate for the Southampton Republican Committee, he explained.

“I think, to use an overused phrase, we’re looking for Republican values, which is less government, lower taxes, less regulation, and more private job creations,” Mr. Wruck said. “Those are the values that distinguish us from Democrats.”

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So, this disruption could have been avoided if the Town Council members had actually shown up for work on the day that the reorganizational meeting was originally scheduled.

Is anyone else disturbed at the nonchalance with which Council members blow off scheduled meetings? Did any of them bother to give an excuse? I would like to know what events Council members think are more important than their public service.

That could be the first act of ATH's reign. Pass a resolution ...more
By highhatsize (4177), East Quogue on Jan 6, 10 5:26 PM
2 members liked this comment
Or, you could pick up the phone, talk to any of the Town Board members and ask them directly what occurred.
By Terry (380), Southampton on Jan 6, 10 7:11 PM
Fine them a $K for every unexcused absence.
This is a great idea!!!! the money could go to a local charity!!!
By Bel (86), southampton on Jan 6, 10 8:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
If these were civil service town employees pulling this they would be terminated in a heartbeat...and rightly so.
By nellie (451), charleston on Jan 6, 10 10:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
You must truly be kidding.
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Jan 7, 10 8:46 AM
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