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Mar 17, 2010 9:57 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Fleming moves into Southampton Town Hall

Mar 17, 2010 9:57 AM

In less than three years, three Southampton Town Board members have set up shop in—and later moved out of—the office Councilwoman-elect Bridget Fleming will make her own on March 23.

Ms. Fleming, whose office is the fourth one at the back of the Town Board meeting room in Town Hall, is happy about her move in and hopes that she will be staying for a while.

“I was given a challenge and presented with an opportunity, and I’ve met the challenge,” Ms. Fleming said. “Now I have to do my job.”

Former Town Board members Sally Pope, Dan Russo and Steve Kenny worked out of the office, which features a tall window looking out onto Hampton Road. Ms. Fleming, who has a law practice in Sag Harbor, will officially claim the office, and a seat at the Town Board dais, after she is sworn in at the Town Board meeting on Tuesday, March 23, at 6 p.m.

The results following the March 9 special election held to fill the seat vacated by Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst were certified by the Suffolk County Board of Elections on Tuesday, said Anita Katz, the Democratic commissioner for the Suffolk County Board of Elections in Yaphank. Ms. Katz said that, after recounting all of the recorded votes, including absentee ballots, Ms. Fleming had 3,533 votes, 2,841 of which were on the Democratic line and 692 of which were on the Independence line, for a total of 54.76 percent. William Hughes, a retired police lieutenant from Hampton Bays, garnered 2,919 votes, all on the Republican line, for a total of 45.24 percent.

She noted that 100 military votes not yet returned to the board will not be counted, as they would not make up the difference for Mr. Hughes.

To prepare for her new role as a Town Board member, Ms. Fleming has been meeting with town employees. On Monday, for example, she met with Town Comptroller Tamara Wright to go over the town’s financial condition.

“I already have extensive files from campaigning for issues affecting various hamlets,” said Ms. Fleming, who added that she will also be attending the Town Board work session on Thursday, March 18, to get up to speed on the issues.

Since January 1, the Town Board has found itself in deadlock on several issues, a dilemma that Ms. Fleming thinks she will help avert. “We have an uneven number now, so deadlocks can’t happen unless a member abstains,” Ms. Fleming said. “I hope that doesn’t happen.”

In fact, two issues that were stalled because of gridlock—the appointment of a sustainability coordinator, and making a part-time court officer full-time—will be on the agenda for the Town Board meeting on March 23. Ms. Throne-Holst anticipates that they will be approved, as she will have the support of Ms. Fleming and Town Board member Nancy Graboski.

Ms. Throne-Holst explained, however, that she did not immediately put on a resolution to bond out another $2 million at the request of Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor, which would allow him a total of $4 million to complete roadwork.

“I don’t want to shove everything down everyone’s throat at this point,” Ms. Throne-Holst said. “I would like Alex to come back and reassure everyone that he will keep an open line of communication with us, while he moves forward with paving plans.”

Although Mr. Hughes—who Town Board members Chris Nuzzi, Nancy Graboski, and Jim Malone supported—lost the election, Ms. Throne-Holst still wants the board to reach consensus on issues. “The election went the way it went, but my goal is still that we work together,” Ms. Throne-Holst said, explaining that she never wanted to see factions fighting on the board. “I’m hoping that Bridget will provide balance.”

Mr. Nuzzi declined several requests for comment and Mr. Malone could not be reached before deadline. Both issued brief statements that said they welcome and look forward to working with Ms. Fleming.

In response to questions on whether or not she sees a Republican/Conservative voting bloc forming, composed of her, Mr. Malone, and Mr. Nuzzi, Ms. Graboski emphasized that she votes on the issues. She noted that in 2004 and 2005, she often voted with Democratic Town Board members Steve Kenny and Dennis Suskind.

Ms. Throne-Holst, who does not have an official party affiliation, added that she also votes on the merits, not along party lines.

“I think that Nancy and I approach the issues from a town and community perspective rather than a political one,” she said. “I know for me, because I’m unaffiliated, I do not vote along a party line, don’t caucus with a party, or have party or committee members call me and say what I should or shouldn’t do. It’s not part of how I legislate.”

The budget season will be of interest, Ms. Graboski said. “We’re really in the midst of a difficult economy and deficits we’re facing,” she said. “We need to make sure we’re keeping things lean and mean ... Something tells me we need to cut more.”

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Okay, 27East suckered me in with a mis-leading headline -- where are the "waves?"
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Mar 17, 10 12:30 PM
Fair point. We changed it to something more appropriate.
By BOReilly (135), 27east Web Editor on Mar 17, 10 2:41 PM
I guess you will have to pick up the paper to read about the waves.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Mar 17, 10 1:33 PM
Good luck Bridget. Even though I have been critical of your candidacy I sincerely wish you serve this Town well. It NEEDS it!
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Mar 20, 10 7:06 PM
woman are and should be the next wave as far as I am concerned as man have done a terrible job at..." ruling"
I could not vote in south...but I would have voted for Bridget, I look forward seing what she accomplishes...
Good luck and do a good work Councilwoman-elect, God bless you.
By radioeuropa (8), east hampton on Mar 22, 10 7:03 AM