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Tillman to step down as Southold Democratic Committee chairman

01/03/2018 6:00 AM |

After more than five years as Southold Town Democratic Committee chairman, Art Tillman announced Tuesday he is stepping down from the position.

An election will be held Jan. 11 to determine his successor and Kathryn Casey Quigley, who has served as vice chairperson since November, is running for the spot, Mr. Tillman said

“It is time for a new generation to assume leadership,” he said in an email Tuesday.

Ms. Quigley, 36, of Greenport assumed much of the management during election season last year. She “did an outstanding and though not successful we are quite pleased with the numbers, Mr. Tillman said.

Mr. Tillman, who just turned 78, said his “great disappointment” over the least five years was not electing more Democrats to local positions.

Southold Republicans swept the November races, re-electing both incumbents and newcomers to town seats. Mr. Tillman said the Democratic party’s efforts were hindered by “cross endorsement deals” at the county level between Republicans and Conservatives. The Conservative Party does not have a committee in Southold.

It was Mr Tillman’s goal to get the Democratic Committee up to speed and fill any vacancies, and while two committee members are needed from Fishers Island, there are many new and active members “who have added greatly to the effectiveness of the Party.”

“I retire with a sense of accomplishment,” he said.

He noted that during his tenure, the Southold Democratic Club was reactivated and held well-attended meetings. He noted that Peconic farmer Al Krupski was elected to the Suffolk County Legislature,  and Mr. Krupski’s son  won a seat on the Southold Town Board of Trustees and Brian Hughes was elected as a Town Justice.

Mr. Tillman also said he encouraged the participation of those who were not active in the committee, including a group that opposes Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley).

“Our party will be in good hands,” Mr. Tillman said. “We look forward to the dynamic leadership about to begin. I am confident the Democratic tide sweeping all of Suffolk County will finally arrive here. We have great allies in this endeavor – with the help of Congressman Zeldin and President [Donald] Trump.”

Ms. Casey Quigley, who became part of the committee last year and was campaign manager to local candidates in the fall, said Mr. Tillman helped make the party stronger and “dedicated himself tirelessly” to the position.

“Art led with humility, openness and a belief in the importance of community,” she wrote Tuesday in an email. “I hope to carry that example with me into this position.”

Ms. Casey Quigley, who grew up in Matittuck, said she should be elected next week. She will name Damon Rallis, a town employee, as vice chair.

Ms. Casey Quigley has a Masters Degree in international affairs from Columbia University. She worked on the Barack Obama campaign in Pennsylvania and Indiana in 2008, an experience she said inspired her to stay engaged in politics along with the former president’s call to for young people to get involved locally, combined with a desire to see more women in political leadership roles.

She said it’s her goal to create a healthy, vibrant and active party that can ensure wins. To do that, she said, requires attracting new party members, raising more money and building the case that Democratic values will strengthen Southold Town.

“I see my role as an organizer, to engage as many people as possible on the issues impacting this town,” she said. “And I look forward to connecting with many people, such as small business owners, farmers, and community leaders, regardless of party affiliation- to see how the Democrats can respond to their concerns for Southold. The Democratic party in Southold – just as it is nationwide- is positioned to make great strides. It’s an exciting time.”

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