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Jun 11, 2018 5:05 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Local Editor Will Challenge Incumbents For Seat On Quogue Village Board

Eileen Duffy. FILE PHOTO
Jun 12, 2018 1:58 PM

Three candidates will fight for two seats on the Quogue Village Board on Friday, while Mayor Peter Sartorius is uncontested in seeking his fifth, two-year term.

Mr. Sartorius, a full-time village resident, has served on the board since 2008, when he was appointed to the Village Board to fill a vacancy left when Trustee William Hines died.

Eileen Duffy, 52, who was one of two write-in candidates during the board race last year, is challenging incumbents Jeannette Obser, who is seeking her ninth, two-year term, and Kimberley Payne, who is seeking his seventh.

Last year, Ms. Duffy, who has lived in Quogue full time since 2011, received a total of 44 out of 361 votes in the village election.

Trustees are elected to two-year terms, paid an annual stipend of $2,500 and given the option to obtain health benefits through the village.

If elected, Ms. Duffy would be the first newcomer to earn a seat on the board, which has otherwise been stagnant since 2010 when Ted Necarsulmer, a retired Wall Street executive, won his first term.

And that’s not the only change Ms. Duffy has planned.

The local editor and writer said she hopes to bring discussions of expanding the board members two-year terms, as well as put a six-year limit on how many years an incumbent can serve.

“With no term limits, it gets to be a closed circuit,” Ms. Duffy said in a previous interview. “It’s time we had a change.”

She added this week that when getting signatures for her petition, many of the village’s residents "don't feel represented because the same people get elected over and over."

Last month she mentioned that she would be taking a look at the current four-member board's transparency, noting that most of the meetings, which are held on the third Friday of every month at Quogue Village Hall, last a maximum of 30 minutes.

“They walk in and everything's been decided,” Ms. Duffy had said. “I just think the community would be better served with fresh blood on the board.”

However, on Tuesday she said that transparency wasn't the "right word."

"It's more like inclusion," Ms. Duffy said. "I don't want to say there is a lack of transparency because it sounds like they're hiding something, but I do believe there are ways to include more residents of the village."

In addition to term limits, she suggested updating the village's website to be more user friendly, and installing a sign along Montauk Highway pointing to the business district—a request that was previously turned down by the board.

Ms. Duffy said on Tuesday that she is the best candidate because since earning a spot on the ballot, she has knocked on hundreds of doors in Quogue to ask residents what changes they want to see on the board.

"I've heard from the people," Ms. Duffy said. "No one has ever knocked on their door to ask them for their vote before. There are a lot of people who don't feel represented."

Still, incumbent Jeanette Obser, 66, who will be seeking her ninth, two-year term, said her track record "speaks for itself."

“We have a democratic process, if people want you out of office they just elect you out of office,” Ms. Obser said.

Ms. Obser, who has lived in Quogue for 42 years, has served her community in varying capacities throughout the years, serving as a member of the Quogue School Board of Education for six years, as well as a member of the Quogue Wildlife Refuge Board of Directors, and the Quogue Chamber Music Board of Directors. Prior to being elected to her first term in 2002, she also served as a member of the Quogue Village Planning Board.

“I have been dedicated to serving the Quogue community,” she said. “What has always been my objective is preserving the quality of life in Quogue.”

She has done so, she said, through zoning changes and noise regulations.

"That ensures the quality of life and I think that's why people come to Quogue,” Ms. Obser said. “It's more of a community where it's more family oriented.”

The final incumbent, seeking his seventh term, is Kimberley Payne.

The 69-year-old, a lifelong resident of Quogue, wrote in an email on Monday that he has dedicated his life to public service.

For 28 years, he was employed as a deputy sheriff investigator with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office and prior to winning his first term election in 2006, Mr. Payne served on the Quogue Planning Board.

“I am seeking [reelection] so that I may continue my endeavors to keep our fabulous village as the quaint, friendly, and unique community it is,” he wrote.

Village residents will cast their votes between noon and 9 p.m. on June 15 at the Firehouse Hall on Jessup Avenue.

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