To the editor:
Imagine, if instead of pouring an astounding amount of money into TV and radio ads, politicians spent campaign donations on projects that represented their values, and our needs. (more…)
To the editor:
Imagine, if instead of pouring an astounding amount of money into TV and radio ads, politicians spent campaign donations on projects that represented their values, and our needs. (more…)
Eighty thousand. That’s around the number of 1st Congressional District voters who went to the polls in 2012 but are not likely to cast a vote in next month’s mid-term election.
Although the number of registered voters in the district has grown by about 9 percent since Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) was first elected in 2002, turnout changes very little with each passing election. In fact, turnout hasn’t fluctuated at all in presidential election years, with about 278,000 voters casting ballots each time. (more…)
UPDATE: 2:38 P.M.
Mattituck-Cutchogue school officials released the full results of Tuesday’s write-in race for the remaining open seat on the district’s Board of Education just before noon Thursday.
As previously reported, former school board member Jeff Smith was the clear front-runner with 79 votes, which turns out to be more than double that of any other nominee.
Kelly Fogarty followed with 35 votes, and Anne Boucher with 29, according to the results released Thursday.
Terri Boyle Romanelli received 27 votes. After Tuesday’s election, Ms. Romanelli said she was concerned how her votes were counted, because she is known by several different names.
Only three other votes spelled or listed differently appeared likely for Ms. Romanelli. There were also other likely votes spelled or listed differently for other nominees.
A total of 233 votes were cast for 32 different names.
A full list of the results is below.
A district official said the school was not legally required to release the rest of the write-in results if the winner accepts the nomination.
The Suffolk Times submitted a Freedom of Information Law request with the district seeking the complete write-in results of the election shortly after noon Wednesday.
More than 24 hours after polls closed in the write-in race for an open seat on the Mattituck-Cutchogue Board of Education, district officials have not yet released the results of the race.
So far they’ve said former school board member Jeff Smith was elected to the open seat with 79 write-in votes, but no other results have been disclosed.
The write-in race became necessary when board member Janique Nine opted to not seek re-election. Incumbent William Gatz was the only person on the ballot and was elected to the other open seat Tuesday night.
Although Terri Boyle Romanelli also launched a write-in campaign, a district official said Tuesday night the school isn’t legally required to release the rest of the write-in results if the winner accepts the nomination.
In an interview Wednesday, Ms. Romanelli said she respects Mr. Smith and she would have voted for him if he had been on the regular ballot.
“I am happy for him if he won, but I am very competitive,” she said. “I want to see what the votes really were.”
Ms. Romanelli said she’s questioning the write-in vote total because her maiden name is Boyle and she changed it about six months ago when she married husband Paul Romanelli. In addition, her children’s last names are Ackermann.
“I have so many names,” she said. “I am trying to get the results. Maybe Terry Ackerman got 40 and Terri Boyle got 50, and I actually won.”
Mr. McKenna said Wednesday that if voters wrote in different names to identify the same person the different names would be counted separately.
“The law says it has to be the same name,” he said. “We can’t assume it’s the same person. So if you use an initial rather than a name you can’t make an assumption. It has to be identical in order to count that vote.”
A New York State Department of Education spokesperson declined to comment on the Mattituck election Wednesday. Instead, she referred to a section of the School Law Handbook, a joint publication of the NYS School Boards Association and the NYS Bar Association.
“Write-in ballots with minor misspellings of a candidate’s name should be credited to that candidate in the absence of a showing that there is another district resident with the same or a similar name,” according to the section.
The Suffolk Times submitted a Freedom of Information Law request with the district seeking the complete write-in results of the election shortly after noon Wednesday. While the district acknowledged receipt of the request, the results have not yet been returned.
Thrown another name in the hat.
Riverhead Councilman George Gabrielsen says he’s interested in running to fill the North Fork’s State Assembly seat vacant since former Assemblyman Dan Losquadro was elected Brookhaven highway superintendent earlier this month.
“At this time, I’m still up in the air, but I’m definitely interested in it,” Mr. Gabrielsen said in an interview Friday. “I haven’t officially put my name in to be screened, but I put it out there to party officials that I definitely have an interest in it. I’m moving in that direction.”
Mr. Gabrielsen, a Republican who owns a farm in Jamesport, was first elected to the Town Board in 2009 to fill the remainder of the term of former Councilman Tim Buckley, who resigned.
While the commute to Albany has discouraged some people from running for state office, Mr. Gabrielsen said he’ll familiar with that trip, since he owns a farm in upstate Summit, west of Albany.
“And my wife is actually from Albany,” he said. “What gives me a good advantage is that, in having a farm up there, I think I have a lot in common with some of the legislators from that area. I know some of them already and I would have kind of a heads up in negotiating with them.”
Mr. Gabrielsen believes the East End’s biggest issue is preserving open space and farmers are the key to that goal.
“We’ve really got to look for legislation to protect farmland,” he said. “Farmers been good guardians of the land. I think I have the background to truly represent the East End.”
The decision on whether to hold a special election to fill the seat or leave to the November general election rests with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has yet to indicate his preference.
The Assembly district covers Southold, Riverhead, Shelter Island and northeastern Brookhaven.
We seem to be caught in an election cycle that never ends. Although the protracted presidential campaign finally concluded in November with Mr. Obama’s re-election, County Legislator Ed Romaine’s Election Day victory as the new supervisor of Brookhaven kicked off what became the first of several out-of-season special elections, with one more yet to come.
Mr. Romaine’s election opened up a legislative seat, which former Southold Councilman Al Krupski took by defeating Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter in January.
On Election Day in November Brookhaven’s highway superintendent won a judgeship. That set up this week’s special election for the highway chief spot, won by North Fork Assemblyman Dan Losquadro, whose victory requires yet another special vote for the Assembly post.
If the person who wins that race currently holds a local elected position, the campaign carousel will continue to spin. There seems to be no precedent on the North Fork for selecting a county legislator and a state assemblyman in the same winter — and who knows what other seat could soon be vacant.
There’s an election in the Village of Greenport on Tuesday, March 19, but it has nothing to do with officeholders moving on or out. Greenporters choose their Village Board representatives every two years and this is one of those years.
Two seats are up this year but only one incumbent, Mary Bess Phillips, is running. Trustee Chris Kempner is not seeking a second four-year term. Former trustee Bill Swiskey is looking to get back on the board and real estate agent Julia Robins is making her first bid for public office.
To hear in their own words where they stand on the issues feel free to attend that campaign’s only debate, sponsored by The Suffolk Times, at the village’s Little Red Schoolhouse on Front Street next Monday, March 11, beginning at 7 p.m. Each candidate will get the opportunity to make opening and closing statements and face questions from moderator Tim Kelly, Suffolk Times editor, and audience members.
Is the village heading in the right direction or would the community benefit from a change of course?
They’ll decide that for themselves on March 19.
Three candidates are running for two seats on the Mattituck Park District board in an election today, Tuesday, Nov. 20.
Voting hours are from 4 to 8 p.m. at the park district office at Veterans Memorial Park on Peconic Bay Boulevard.
Commissioner Charles Zaloom is not seeking re-election. George Lomaga, a science professor at Suffolk County Community College, and retired contractor Russell Williamson, a longtime park district volunteer, are vying for Mr. Zaloom’s seat, a three-year term.
The second seat was held by Nicholas Deegan, who had been a commissioner since 2008. But he was removed in August for failing to take the oath of office at the beginning of his second term. Mr. Deegan has been attending meetings since as a member of the public and is running to complete the remaining year of his term.
Running unopposed, Greenport Mayor David Nyce won re-election Tuesday with 269 votes while incumbent Trustee George Hubbard was re-elected with 253. Newcomer David Murray won the second trustee seat at stake in Tuesday’s vote, garnering 199 votes to former trustee Bill Swiskey’s 160.
“I’m very pleased and very optimistic about what this board should be able to accomplish in the next four years,” Mr. Nyce said about the results. He and Mr. Swiskey have regularly locked horns at Village Board meetings, and during the year in which Mr. Swiskey served as a trustee, the mayor tried unsuccessfully to have him removed from a meeting, complaining that he was being disruptive.
Mr. Murray credited his victory to the help of others who supported his candidacy. It was no secret in the village that most members of the current board favored Mr. Murray.
Mr. Hubbard, the top vote-getter among trustee candidates, said he had enjoyed his first term and looked forward to continuing to work on projects for the betterment of the village.
Tuesday was a topsy-turvy night for Mr. Swiskey, who thought at one point he had a 23-vote lead over Mr. Murray. He had misunderstood the order of candidates’ listings and, when village clerk Sylvia Lazzari Pirillo read vote totals for each of the lines on the voting machine, he mistook Mr. Murray’s count for his.
This was Mr. Swiskey’s third try at elective office after he won a single-year term, replacing the late George Hubbard Sr. on the Village Board, in 2008. In 2009, he lost a bid for a full four-year term.
Apparently there was some confusion for residents who had intended to cast write-in votes. They may have been misdirected about how to do so, according to one voter. Because all five write-ins were incorrectly entered, they weren’t counted, according to Ms. Pirillo. Not only did Mr. Swiskey get a write-in vote, so too did resident John Saladino; businessman and former trustee John Costello; and actor Charlie Sheen.
When Mr. Swiskey thought he might have pulled off a victory, he said he would make sure the Village Board would take steps to repay its remaining debt of almost $8 million. Much of that comes due in 2014.
After the actual winners were announced, Mr. Swiskey said he would continue to attend board meetings and work to support a plan to include the entire village in the historic district — a proposal made by Mr. Murray and the Historic Preservation Commission, of which he has served as chairman.
Those overseeing the ballot count Tuesday night failed to invite the candidates to observe the back of the voting machine as the votes were tallied. But just before the machine was locked down and while the count of absentee ballots was under way, Mr. Swiskey asked that the candidates be allowed to view the machine. The three trustee candidates all did so.
Less than eight weeks before the March 15 Greenport election, there’s a battle brewing among four candidates seeking two trustee seats, but as of this week, no one has stepped up to challenge Mayor David Nyce, who is seeking a second four-year term.
That could change between now and Feb. 8, the deadline for candidates to submit nominating petitions.
Mr. Nyce announced his candidacy to Peconic Landing residents last week in response to a question after delivering a state of the village address. Mr. Nyce has obtained an election petition form and needs to file 50 signatures to gain a spot on the ballot.
During his Peconic Landing appearance and at a recent Village Board meeting, the mayor made the case for his re-election, saying his administration has made substantial progress on upgrading its waste water treatment plant and is about to embark on upgrades to the electric department. The village also has repaid almost half of the more than $13 million debt he says his administration inherited. But he credited some of the debt pay-down to his predecessor, former mayor Dave Kapell, who obtained grant funds. Mr. Nyce also says his administration has streamlined Village Hall operations with improved checks and balances and the board has kept tax increases to a minimum.
“It’s been an immense amount of work,” he said. “It would be nice to see things through and hopefully it will lend some stability.”
In the race for the two trustee seats, four candidates have picked up petitions, indicating their intent to run. Incumbents George Hubbard Jr. and Michael Osinski are seeking re-election. Board critic and former trustee and Bill Swiskey is campaigning for one seat, and newcomer David Murray, who has served on the village’s Historic Preservation Commission for three years and became its chairman last spring, has also secured a petition.
Others could jump into the race for either mayor or trustee before the Feb. 8 deadline. There’s also the possibility that a potential candidate is collecting signatures without using the village-supplied petition form, which is permitted.
Mr. Osinski previously hinted at leaving the board at the end of his current term. He has made reference recently to his days as a public official being numbered and has expressed frustration on the slow pace of government actions. He and Mr. Nyce, who ran together four years ago, have locked horns with some regularity, particularly in the past year.
Mr. Osinski said he’s not challenging Mr. Nyce because “I don’t have the time for mayor.”
He says he decided to seek reelection to work on creating jobs.
“The bay is under-utilized,“ Mr. Osinski said. The former Wall Street IT expert is one of three oyster farmers working the western shore of Greenport Harbor. The board needs to look at what makes the village thrive and realize that tourism might be the driving force in the summer, but oyster farming would create year-round jobs, he said.
Mr. Hubbard, who won handily four years ago with support from Greenport Fire Department members, also complains about government red tape and the slow pace of getting work done. He was involved in the $9 million waste water treatment project and says he wants to see that project through to completion. The same holds true for the electric department upgrade project just about to start.
“I don’t like what I see,” is how Bill Swiskey described his reason for running. “I don’t understand the whole mentality of the village.”
He was elected to the board in March 2008 for a one-year term after the death of veteran trustee George Hubbard Sr., but he lost his bid the following year for a full four-year term.
A former long-time village utilities chief, Mr. Swiskey has been critical of how the board has handled the waste water treatment plant project and plans for the electric plant upgrade.
Mr. Murray credits his experience on the Historic Preservation Commission with whetting his appetite to get more involved with village issues. He says he has a special interest in fostering more youth programs. Mr. Murray is basketball coach for the St. Patrick’s CYO fifth grade boys’ team. His wife, Lisa Murray, is a member of the Greenport Board of Education.
Mr. Murray also wants the board to begin investigating ways to refinance some of its remaining debt if ways can’t be found to pay it off by 2014, he said.
As chairman of the HPC, Mr. Murray supported expanding the historic district beyond its current borders to encompass the entire village. Present boundaries make it difficult for many homeowners to know whether or not their properties are within the historic district, he said. The HPC has no formal control over the downtown area although projects in the business district are often sent to the commission for informal review.
A look at the local candidates in today’s election:
UNITED STATES CONGRESS
Tim Bishop, 60, (D-Southampton) is a lifelong Southampton resident who came to Congress after serving in the administration of Southampton College for 29 years, many of them as provost. He started at the school as an admissions counselor and retired in 2002.
Mr. Bishop says his priorities include focusing on job creation; protecting middle-class families and seniors; controlling spending; strengthening education; and protecting benefits for veterans. He supports legislation to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil by creating alternative energy jobs. He has pledged to work to secure the United States from terrorism; to safeguard the environment; and to work toward getting Long Island its fair share of federal aid.
Mr. Bishop favors elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax; and supports expanding the Child Tax Credit and raising the maximum income limit for the 10 percent tax bracket to increase the number of people eligible to pay the lowest percentage of their personal income in federal taxes. He has promoted legislation to protect Long Island Sound and Long Island shorelines and beaches. He is pro-choice on the abortion issue and opposed the war in Iraq.
Like many Democrats around the country, Mr. Bishop is charging that a lot of the money flowing to Republican and Tea Party candidates comes from foreign sources and is being contributed illegally.
Randy Altschuler, 39, (R,C- St. James), grew up in New York City and moved to St. James in 2007. He is a former Fulbright Scholar who holds an MBA from Harvard. He was co-founder and CEO of CloudBlue, an electronics recycling company, and OfficeTiger, a company that supplies back room office staff for major corporations.
He remains executive chairman of CloudBlue but has suspended any active involvement with the company during the campaign, his spokesman Rob Ryan said.
Mr. Altschuler reportedly wanted to run for Congress in New Jersey, where he previously lived, but he never made the race.
He denies that he has outsourced jobs to other countries and said he instead has created more than 700 jobs for Americans.
Mr. Altschuler favors lowering taxes and reducing spending. He pledges to lower corporate taxes; support a fence on the U.S. southern border to improve security; repeal the health care bill; issue tax credits to students attending non-public and charter schools; support domestic energy production, including oil drilling, coal mining and natural gas extraction; and invest in creating alternative energy sources.
Mr. Ryan said Mr. Altschuler not only favors retaining the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 but would also favor cutting taxes further to give small businesses and individuals more money to invest.
Mr. Altschuler is pro-life on the abortion issue.
Kenneth P. LaValle
State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, 71, has served in his current position since 1976. He is the Republican, Conservative and Independence party candidate.
Mr. LaValle is widely credited for his work as a former executive director of the Senate Education Committee and as chair of the state senate’s Higher Education Committee to improve education. Locally he is respected for his authorship of the 1993 Pine Barrens Preservation Act. He has also helped to establish numerous health care programs throughout the First Senate District.
Mr. LaValle was also one of the architects of the state’s STAR school property tax relief program.
Mr. LaValle, a graduate of Hempstead High School, received his bachelor’s degree from Adelphi University in 1961 and received a master’s degree in education from SUNY New Paltz in 1964. He received his juris doctorate from the Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center in 1987. He was admitted to the New York State Bar Association in 1993 and is a practicing attorney.
Mr. LaValle lives in Port Jefferson with his wife, Penny, and is the father of two grown children.
Jennifer Maertz, 34, currently serves as the vice chair of the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee. Ms. Maertz, a litigating attorney for the GEICO insurance company, was chosen by Democrats to face off against Mr. LaValle after former Democratic and Working Families Party candidate Regina Calcaterra was forced to drop out of the race because she had registered to vote in Pennsylvania for part of the last five years.
Ms. Maertz had sought the Democratic nomination for Brookhaven Town Board last year but was not chosen by party leaders. She had been working for Ms. Calcaterra’s campaign when the former candidate’s run was ruled invalid.
Ms. Maertz, who lives in Rocky Point, is a graduate of St. John’s University and Touro Law School and received an MBA from the New York Institute of Technology. She has also served on the Rocky Point Civic Association, North Shore Youth Council and Brookhaven Business and Community Alliance.
She supports state budget reform, property tax relief and better jobs for Long Island communities. She often distinguishes herself as supporting marriage equality. Mr. LaValle voted against gay marriage.
Assemblyman Marc Alessi, 34, of Shoreham, has been in office for five years, having won a special election to fill the remainder of Pat Acampora’s term in 2005, and then being re-elected twice. He is on the ballot on the Democrat, Independence and Working Families lines.
An attorney, Mr. Alessi says he has been instrumental in bringing reform to LIPA’s management and in passing legislation requiring state review of health insurance rate increases. He says he opposed the MTA payroll tax and was instrumental in getting train service restored and improved on the North Fork. Mr. Alessi now is working on legislation designed to keep high tech industry within New York State, where many patents are developed but not implemented.
Before his election to the Assembly, Mr. Alessi was the downstate director of intergovernmental affairs for the state comptroller, where he says he helped uncover corruption in school districts like Roslyn and William Floyd.
Mr. Alessi has a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Albany and completed his law degree at Touro Law School, where he studied health care law.
He and his wife, Gretchen have a son and daughter.
Dan Losquadro, 38, also of Shoreham has represented the Suffolk County Legislature’s sixth district for the past seven years and has been the leader of the Legislature’s Republican minority since 2006. He is on the ballot on the Republican, Conservative, Green Party and School Tax Relief lines.
Before his election to the Legislature, Mr. Losquadro was a claims adjuster and fraud investigator for State Farm Insurance, investigating such incidents as arson, auto thefts and staged accidents.
He says he wants to run for Assembly because New York has “high taxes, a lack of good jobs and a terrible business environment” and he feels the Democratic majority in both the Assembly and the state Senate primarily represent the interests of New York City interests, and Long Island interests need to be better represented.
Mr. Losquadro grew up in Wading River, graduated from Shoreham-Wading River schools and graduated from SUNY/Stony Brook with a bachelor’s degree in history. He and his wife, Lynn, a teacher, have a son and a daughter.
Who said paper balloting is old-fashioned and cumbersome, a leftover from the old days? In Suffolk County, it is the way of the future.
The county unrolled a new voting system with the primary elections in September, more than three years after it lost a lawsuit against the state to challenge the implementation of a federal law requiring an end to all voting by mechanical lever machines.
The county, which has used mechanical lever machines for generations, has chosen optical scanners over electronic touch-screen voting machines, which have been the subject of controversy because they keep no physical record of votes.
With optical scanners, voters are given a paper ballot, which they mark in a booth and then insert in a central machine outside the booth that counts the vote. The scanner stores the paper ballot as a back-up to be used for recounts or when election inspectors believe a machine has malfunctioned.
The phase-out of lever-style voting machines was mandated by the 2002 Help America Vote Act, which was spearheaded by the Bush administration in an attempt to streamline voting after the ballot-counting fracas in Florida following the 2000 presidential election. New York State used a different voting process than Florida, but the law found that lever machines were prone to several glitches and problems and required them, as well as all paper-punch systems like Florida’s, to be replaced with either optical scanners or touch-screen machines.
New York was the last state to use lever voting machines and Suffolk is last county in the state to make the switch.
In 2006, County Executive Steve Levy sued the New York State Board of Elections, which was charged with implementing the federal mandate, citing the lever machines’ reliability and the cost of replacing 1,500 machines. By then, New York State had asked all counties to replace lever machines with optical scanners or other devices that would ensure a paper trail if the machines malfunctioned.
Members of the Suffolk County League of Women Voters have been pushing the county to opt for paper ballots and optical scanners since 2006, in part because they say they are a low-cost alternative to touch screen machines.
Judie Gorenstein, the vice president for voter services for the league’s Huntington branch, told the county legislature in 2006 that the county would need only 514 optical scanners, which would cost about $3 million, while it would need 1,500 touch screen machines, at a cost of around $14 million, to handle its election general process. The reason, the league said, was that optical scanners are not in the booth where a voter might linger over his or her choices, so they are not subject to slowdowns in the tabulation process if voters take a long time. Touch screen machines combine the selection and tabulation process so they are prone to those delays and therefore process fewer voters in a given time.
The optical scanners also make voting easier for people with handicaps, said Tom Knobel, who serves as an assistant to Suffolk County Election Commissioner Cathy L. Richter Geier. The privacy booths are wide enough and low enough to accommodate wheelchairs. He said that it will also be easier for people to write in candidates, because the lever machines had an unwieldy window high up on the ballot where voters had to reach up to write in candidates’ names.
“We were very happy with the lever voting machines, but there’s no way to say whether the odometer wheel hitched somewhere while recording votes,” he said. “With optical scanners, the ballots will tell the tale. The ultimate form of security will be there.”
Mr. Knobel said that polling places will have dark pens on hand to ensure that people mark their ballots clearly. He added that, if the optical scanner cannot read markings, it will immediately inform voters, who can re-mark and resubmit their ballots.
The ballots themselves will not have any personal information on them, and people will still check in at their polling places in the same manner they do now.
Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in a July issue of The Suffolk Times.