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Teller Unchallenged In Westhampton Beach; Lightning Party Will Control Village Board

Publication: The Southampton Press
By Erin McKinley   May 14, 2012 1:10 PM
May 16, 2012 12:42 PM

Westhampton Beach Mayor Conrad Teller will have a free run when he seeks his fourth two-year term in next month’s village election, though one of his former running mates, current Deputy Mayor Toni-Jo Birk, will not enjoy an uncontested race.

And the recent decision made by their other running mate, Village Trustee Leola “Sue” Farrell, not to seek reelection to a second term means that Mr. Teller and Ms. Birk—if both are reelected on Friday, June 15—will be minority members on the five-member Village Board.

Ms. Birk, who has served on the board since 2006, will have to stave off challenges from village residents Charles Palmer and Ralph Urban, both members of the Lightning Party, to earn her fourth two-year term of office. Petitions to run in next month’s election were due at Village Hall this past Friday.

“I’m very happy it is uncontested,” said Mr. Teller, who is again running as a member of the Unity Party, just as he did in the 2010 election. “I’ve never had one of those.”

In 2010, Mr. Teller narrowly beat current village trustee Hank Tucker to retain his seat as mayor. When reached earlier this week, Mr. Tucker said he opted not to make another run for mayor, explaining that he is content as a trustee and believes he can serve the public well in his current position.

“I had more of a reason for running last time then I have for not running now,” he said. “I am very happy serving the public as a trustee.”

The last uncontested mayoral race in Westhampton Beach occurred in 2000, when former Mayor Robert Strebel was reelected.

Ms. Birk is also seeking reelection this year but as a member of the Beach Party. The mayor explained that they are running on different lines this year because when he started collecting signatures to run again, Ms. Birk had not yet decided if she would seek reelection. By the time she had announced her intention to run, it was too late for them to run on the same line again, Mr. Teller said.

Ms. Birk did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

“I have no concerns,” Mr. Teller said on Monday. “I feel Ms. Birk has done an admirable job over the years, so she should have no problems this year.”

Ms. Farrell, who is serving her first term, said she recently retired and might move soon.

Both Mr. Palmer, who made an unsuccessful run for trustee two years ago, and Mr. Urban, who is making his first bid for public office, will be running next month under the Lightning Party banner, the same party that is aligned with Mr. Tucker and village trustee Patricia DiBenedetto, who won her first term last June. Mr. Palmer received 281 votes in 2010, finishing behind Ms. Birk, who collected 354 votes, and Ms. Farrell, who received 313 votes.

Mr. Palmer, a senior accountant with the Suffolk County Police Department, said he wants to give back to the community he calls home. “I want more of a functioning board with better communication,” he said.

A retired music teacher who taught in the Montauk School District for 37 years, Mr. Urban said he is running because he wants to give back to the community that he loves. He explained that, in the 1960s, his family moved to Westhampton and he finished his last two years of high school at Westhampton Beach. In 1975, Mr. Urban and his wife, Joan, made the village their permanent home.

“The main thing I want to see is a little more communication within the government itself so things are a little more straightforward,” Mr. Urban said. “It is a very nice village to live in and I would like to keep it that way.”

Quogue Village

In Quogue, Mayor Peter Sartorius and fellow village trustees Kimberley Payne and Jeanette Obser are all unopposed in their respective reelection bids. The election is also set for Friday, June 15.

Mr. Sartorius has served as mayor since November 2009, when he was picked to replace former Mayor George Motz. Mr. Sartorius finished the remainder of that term and was elected to his first full term as mayor in 2010.

Ms. Obser, who has served on the board since 2002, is seeking her sixth two-year term while Mr. Payne is seeking his third term.

West Hampton Dunes

All four trustees in the Village of West Hampton Dunes who are up for reelection on Tuesday, June 19, also have free rides.

Mayor Gary Vegliante and Trustees Catherine Woolfson and Michael Craig, who won election together four years ago, are all seeking four-year terms of office. Also, Trustee Renee Brown, who was appointed last year following the death of her husband, former board member Charles Brown, is running for a one-year term next month.

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