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Nov 7, 2017 11:19 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Democrats Retain Majority In Tuesday's Election

Susan McGraw-Keber won election to the East Hampton Town Trustees as part of a Democratic landslide that gave the party seven of the nine Trustees seats and ousted the board's longest serving member, Diane McNally. Michael Wright
Nov 9, 2017 4:23 PM

Voters in East Hampton handed the the town's Democratic Party a second-straight landslide win in townwide elections, with a sweep of the Town Board race and an even broader majority on the Town Trustees.

Republicans lost by wide margins in almost every contested race and the party's longest serving elected official, East Hampton Town Trustee Diane McNally, lost her bid for reelection to another term on the ancient waterways board that she has served on for more than 25 years and on which her father also once sat.

Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc cruised to an easy victory over Republican Manny Vilar in the race to replace Supervisor Larry Cantwell, who is retiring at the end of the year.

"I'm so very thrilled to have all this wonderful support from the people of the town, it's very humbling," Mr. Van Scoyoc said shortly after declaring victory on Tuesday night, while other Democrats cheered around him in Rowdy Hall. "We have a lot of work to do and I'm looking forward to getting on with business now."

Mr. Van Scoyoc received 3,652 votes on Tuesday night, or about 61 percent, to Mr. Vilar's 2,301. Absentee ballots have yet to be counted. Overall turnout in this year's election appears to have been moderate, slightly higher than 2015 but still well below some more hotly contested races in years past.

"I really wanted to be the next supervisor for the Town of East Hampton because I'm passionate about the community and the employees," Mr. Vilar, the head of a state policemen's union, said after conceding defeat on Tuesday. "If there's anything to come out of this election,it's that we had the overwhelming support of the employees who are paid 30 percent less than the surrounding townships. So this should be a wake-up call to the new administration, they need to do the right thing by the employees."

Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez also racked up an easy win in her first reelection bid, with about 34 percent of the vote and the most votes out of the four candidates, 3,889.

"I'm the luckiest girl in the world because I get to keep my job, a job that I love," Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said on Tuesday. "I'm really excited and I can't wait to get back to work."

Her Democratic running mate, Jeffrey Bragman, grabbed the other seat on the board, which is being vacated by Councilman Fred Overton, defeating the Republicans' top vote-getter, Paul Giardina.

"I'm very happy, I need to say thank you to a lot of people we got a lot of help from," Mr. Bragman said. "People were there that believed in this and it happened. I'm really happy that a positive campaign won."

Mr. Bragman recieved 3,114 votes to Mr. Giardina's 2,212. The other Repubican candidate, former East Hampton Village Police Chief Gerard Larsen, received 2,160 votes.

"My campaign staff did a fantastic job and I told them, 'You're the guys that are gonna win it for me and I'm the one who could lose it,' and I lost it and that's the way I look at it," Mr. Giardina said at the Republicans' election night gathering at Cittanuova. "I'm an environmental engineer and I have a business, so nobody should cry for me. But the town has some serious issues and I wish them luck in solving them."

Mr. Larsen, whose wife, Lisa, also ran unsuccessfully for a Town Board seat in 2015 as a Republican, said the party needs to find its political feet again. He marveled that Democrats in the Town Trustees race with no experience on local waters beat out the likes of Julie Evans, a former charter boat captain, and Diane McNally, the daughter of a bayman.

"Clearly, people are voting across the Democratic line," he said. "We need to build the party and come back stronger and we'll be successful."

The results of Tuesday's election give the Democrats four of the five seats on the Town Board and a clear path to seizing all five for at least a year. Mr. Van Scoyoc's election to the supervisor's office will leave his council seat empty, with two years remaining on his current term.

The four Democratic board members will be expected to appoint someone to fill the seat, and schedule a special election for the remaining portion of the term next November. On Tuesday Mr. Van Scoyoc said discussions about who will be chosen to fill that seat will start at the board's organizational meeting in January. He would not comment on whether one of the Republican candidates from this year's election would be considered for appointment.

The most stinging loss of the night for the Republicans may have been the defeat of Ms. McNally, the board's longest-serving member. Democrats took a 7-2 majority on the nine-member Town Trustees board on Tuesday night. Democratic Trustees Francis Bock, Rick Drew, Bill Taylor and Brian Byrnes all won reelection and Democrats John Aldred, the former manager fo the town's shellfish hatchery, and Dell Cullum also secured seats. Republican incumbent Trustee James Grimes won back his seat and Republican Susan Vorpahl and Democrat Susan McGraw Keber both led the vote tallies for the final two seats on the board.

Town Assessor Eugene DePasquale also easily won reelection to another term with nearly 69 percent of the vote, beating Republican candidate Tina Silverman 3,838 votes to 1,728.

Voters around the South Fork also reelected Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming by a broad margin over her challenger Heather Collins. Ms. Fleming won 64 percent of the vote.

Statewide, the proposition calling for a constitutional convention was struck down handily with 86.63 percent of voters voting against and 13.36 percent voting for.

The second ballot proposal allowing judges to reduce or revoke the pensions of convicted public officials was widely supported, with 69.18 percent of votes for it and 30.81 percent against.

The third ballot proposal allowing local governments’ use of the preserved land fund in exchange for adding 250 acres remained too close to definitively call, with 48.59 percent votes in favor and 51.4 percent against.

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The People have spoken:
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EH Airport!

By PBR (4813), Southampton on Nov 8, 17 8:41 AM
SiriusXM Patriot will present “Winning” on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, at 2 p.m. Eastern. “Winning” is a celebration of the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s historic 2016 election win over Democrat Hillary Clinton to become the 45th President of the United States.
By Undocumented Democrat (1517), southampton on Nov 8, 17 9:09 AM
PBR the true local people (the ones that actually live here, not all the NYC residents who the Dems gathered up and re-registered out here to manipulate the election) already clearly spoke on this issue and said the airport was dead last of their concerns. While you may be obsessed about it, the rest of the real local community is not and strongly supports the airport. Maybe the local Republican Party should take a page out of the Dems book and get thousands of Republican NYC residents to register ...more
By localEH (228), East Hampton on Nov 8, 17 12:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
I am so looking forward to my taxes going up and the town hurtling back towards bankruptcy in the coming years. Yay!
By Preliator Lives (238), Obamavillie on Nov 8, 17 12:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
Town finances have been wonderful under Cantwell. Maybe you have trouble reading a financial statement? Interesting that Villar mentioned huge raises for town employees as his missed opportunity.
How do you think town/police negotiations would have gone with Villar representing EH?
By harbor (296), East Hampton on Nov 9, 17 11:30 AM
Congratulations on a well fought campaign. I look forward to the fresh ideas that will be brought to the local government. One fresh ideai should be to consider making East Hampton Airport an International Airport..Maybe turn it into a hub.. My fellow residents enjoy the 4am jets...The Monday morning helicopters..I also enjoy entertaining guests on Friday afternoon airshows!!!!!!

Looking forward to more years of noise pollution
By mr. met (1), Sagaponack on Nov 8, 17 2:54 PM
Please tell us how many jets have flown over your house at 4am in the past two weeks? Past month? Past two months? I bet is was a whopping ZERO. How many seaplanes and helicopters have flown over in the past two weeks? Past month? I bet is was no more than a small handful and all before 6pm, especially since the seaplanes all moved down south for winter several weeks ago. Or do you not know because you don't actually live here the other 9 months of the year like the rest of us do but complain ...more
By localEH (228), East Hampton on Nov 9, 17 12:41 PM
I think the town board should consider appointing a republican to that vacant seat.
By Rich Morey (292), East Hampton on Nov 8, 17 3:29 PM
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