Red Ripple: East End Dems Largely Spared GOP Drubbing Seen in Elections Elsewhere

Peter Van Scoyoc
East Hampton Town Supervisor, Peter Van Scoyoc
T.E McMorrow

Republicans made big gains across Long Island on Election Day, but the red wave was subdued on the East End, as the South Fork’s Democratic strongholds held and some North Fork voters appear to have turned back the rising GOP tide, but it did flip the Shelter Island Town Board.

Most stunning was the news that Republican Ray Tierney unseated first-term Democratic Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini and the GOP ousted enough Democratic incumbents in the Suffolk Legislature to seize the majority for the first time in 16 years, unofficial early returns tallied by the Suffolk Board of Elections show.

Republican Ray Tierney unseated first-term Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini, a Democrat, in a stunning upset to become the new top prosecutor for the eastern half of Long Island.
Republican Ray Tierney unseated first-term Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini, a Democrat, in a stunning upset to become the new top prosecutor for the eastern half of Long Island.LI Press

But in the Twin Forks town-level races, results were more of a mixed bag, with Republicans picking up some seats while Democrats made gains in others. Most notably, the GOP appears to have won the majority of the Shelter Island Town Board from Democrats, and Dems on the North Fork appear to have won two seats vacated by Republican Southold Town councilmen, meaning the six-member GOP-majority town board, which has one sitting Democrat, may now be tied 50/50, if the election night results hold after absentee ballots are counted.

“I am very confident that we have already secured one council seat, one trustee seat, and the highway superintendent, however I am optimistic that we will pick up another council seat, and one, possibly two more trustees,” says Southold Town Councilwoman Sarah Nappa, currently the only Democrat on the board. “In 2019 I was down by 47 and ended up winning in absentee count by 81, so I gained 128 votes. That would definitely put both of our trustees over the finish line.”

Up-island and beyond, it was a different story. First-term Democratic Nassau County Executive Laura Curran is trailing Republican rival Bruce Blakeman, who declared victory while Curran awaits a tally of absentee ballots. The GOP also flipped open seats in the Nassau district attorney and comptroller races, as Republican voters surged across New York State and the nation a year after Democrats won the White House and Congress.

Bridget Fleming
Bridget Fleming

While it will be a few weeks before local races that are too close to call are certified by elections officials, it’s safe to say that the East End’s two county lawmakers, Suffolk Legislators Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) and Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac), who were both re-elected, appear to now be in the minority.

And although Tierney replaces Sini as the county’s new top prosecutor, in the other countywide law enforcement seat on ballots, voters re-elected Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon, a first-term Democrat who’s the first Black man to hold the post, which is headquartered in Riverhead.

EAST HAMPTON TOWN

Democrats in the farthest reaches of the Hamptons had little trouble keeping their jobs this Election Day. East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc fended off two challengers.

Democrat East Hampton Town Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez won her third four-year term and her running mate, Cate Rogers, a longtime former Zoning Board of Appeals member, captured the seat vacated by outgoing Councilman Jeff Bragman, who ran on the Independence Party line to challenge Van Scoyoc instead of seeking re-election to the town board.

All nine Democratic East Hampton Town Trustees candidates won, with newcomer David Cataletto replacing Rick Drew, a Democratic incumbent who ran on the Independence Party line after he was not nominated for re-election. The top vote getter was James Grimes, who was cross endorsed by Republicans. 

Winning re-election after running unopposed were East Hampton Town Clerk Carole Brennan, East Hampton Town Superintendent of Highways Stephen Lynch, East Hampton Town Justice Steven Tekulsky and East Hampton Town Assessor Eugene DePasquale — all Democrats.

Yvette Aguiar
Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar

RIVERHEAD TOWN

The GOP maintained its streak as voters re-elected Republican Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar over Democratic Councilwoman Catherine Kent by a margin of 59% to 41%.

“The residents of Riverhead have spoken loud and clear,” Aguiar said. “I am profoundly honored to have received so much support. After the absentee ballots are counted, there is a possibility, the final results may have broken an all-time record for a Supervisor’s election bid.”

What’s more, since Kent was the lone Democrat on the town board and she sought higher office instead of re-election, Republican Riverhead Chamber of Commerce President Robert Kern won the seat Kent left open and Republican Riverhead Town Councilman Kenneth Rothwell was re-elected — meaning all five members of the town board are in the GOP. Democrats trailed by more than 1,500 votes in the council races.

Kent’s wasn’t the only seat Riverhead Republicans flipped. Republican Michael Zaleski beat Democrat William Renten Jr. in the race to replace retiring longtime Democratic Riverhead Superintendent of Highways George Woodson.

And fending off Democratic challengers by healthy margins were two of the three members of the Riverhead Board of Assessment Review (BAR), Chair Laverne Tennenberg and BAR member Dana Brown, both Republicans.

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman
Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman ran unopposed

SOUTHAMPTON TOWN

Republicans also flipped a few Democratic seats in the Town of Southampton, but not enough to upset the balance of power.

Democratic Southampton Town Councilman Thomas Schiavoni was re-elected and Republican Cynthia McNamara, who chairs the East Quogue Citizens Advisory Committee, won outgoing Democratic Councilwoman Julie Lofstad’s seat, early returns show. In the four-way race for the two seats, McNamara’s GOP running mate placed third and Schiavoni’s running mate placed fourth. McNamara will join Republican Southampton Town Councilman Rick Lewis in the board’s GOP minority, as Democrats maintain a 3-2 edge.

“I’m looking forward to serving the people of Southampton Town for another two years,” says Democratic Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, who ran unopposed, as did Southampton Town Clerk Sundy Schermeyer, who was cross-endorsed.

Republican Charles McArdle, a former town police detective, is leading Democrat Thomas Neely, the town’s director of Public Transportation & Traffic Safety, by more than 500 votes in the race to replace outgoing Southampton Superintendent of Highways Alex Gregor, an Independence Party member.

The GOP also added a judge to the bench in the town. Republican Patrick Gunn, a former Suffolk prosecutor, beat Democrats Adam Grossman, a former Riverhead town prosecutor, and Shari Oster, a longtime attorney, by about 1,000 votes to replace outgoing Democratic Southampton Town Justice Deborah Kooperstein. Republican Southampton Town Justice Barbara Wilson was re-elected. 

In the Southampton Town Trustees race, three cross-endorsed incumbents were re-elected, as was a Democratic trustee, and Republican William Parash won outgoing former Democratic Trustee President Eric Shultz’s seat.

“I think it will be a productive board,” Schneiderman says.

SHELTER ISLAND TOWN

In the East End’s least populous town, Shelter Island’s races produced a few razor-thin margins of victory for some GOP candidates, who appear to have seized control of the town board from the Democratic majority.

Republican Marcus Kaasik, a town planning board member, is leading Democrat Barbara Jean Ianfolla, who serves on the town’s board of assessors, by seven votes in the early returns in the race for the two years left on the term of former Democratic Shelter Island Town Councilman Mike Bebon, who resigned in June. Republican Town Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams, the only incumbent on the ballot, won re-election, and Republican Margaret Larsen, who’s vice president of Shelter Island Sand, Gravel, & Contracting, won the seat held by retiring Democratic Councilman Albert Dickson. If the victories survive the absentee ballot count, that will give the GOP a 3–2 majority on the board.

Republican Shelter Island Town Clerk Dorothy Ogar, who has held the post for more than 40 years, is leading Democratic challenger Kristina Martin-Majdisova, who works as a clerk for various town departments, by less than 100 votes.

Easily sailing to re-election were Democratic Shelter Island Town Supervisor Gerard Siller, who was unopposed, and Assessor Patricia Castoldi and Superintendent of Highways Brian Sherman, both of whom were cross-endorsed.

SOUTHOLD TOWN

The Southold Town Board wasn’t the only contest in which Democrats had the lead on election night.

Democrat Daniel Goodwin, who works for an environmental services company, has a more than 300-vote lead over Republican Donald Grim, who owns a tow truck company, in the race to replace the retiring Republican Southold Superintendent of Highways. Democrats are also leading Republicans in two of three Southold Town Trustee seats on ballots.

In the town board race, Democrats Brian Mealy, a Mattituck-Cutchogue School Board member, and Greg Doroski of Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, are leading Republicans Anthony Sannino, who owns Sannino Vineyard, and Gregory Williams, who owns Country Time Cycle, in their bid to fill seats being vacated by GOP Southold Town Councilmen Jim Dinizio and Bob Ghosio. 

“Southold has been becoming increasingly Democratic in the past few years, but we also engaged the electorate,” says Kathryn Casey Quigley, who chairs the Southold Town Democratic Committee — one of the few local Democratic party leaders on LI to flip Republican seats on election night. “We have a highly organized Committee that has been laser focused on registering and connecting with voters to flip town hall. This allowed us to recruit strong, dynamic candidates who worked really hard, and inspired and motivated voters. They also coordinated extremely well as a slate to run a disciplined, streamlined and professional campaign.”

But it wasn’t a sweep for the North Fork Dems. Republican Denis Noncarrow, the government liaison officer for the town’s economic development committee, beat Democrat Candace Hall, an insurance broker, in the race to replace retiring Republican Southold Town Clerk Elizabeth Neville.

Republicans running unopposed to re-election were town Board of Assessors (BAR) Chair  Kevin Webster, are BAR member Charles Sanders, Southold Town Justice Eileen Powers and Louisa Evans, a member of the town board who also presides over cases on Fishers Island.

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