11/15/12 6:00am
11/15/2012 6:00 AM

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Al Krupski announcing his legislative candidacy Tuesday night.

Well, this could get interesting.

For years, the Southold political scene has provided a textbook example of stability and continuity. True, some might describe it as frozen and stagnant. With a few notable exceptions, Republicans dominate. Democrats and independents have scored a few David vs. Goliath victories over the years, but at the moment there are but two Democrats in elected town positions.

One is Highway Superintendent Pete Harris and the other is Councilman Al Krupski. In a matter of weeks, that number may drop to one.

Mr. Krupski announced Tuesday that he will seek the Democratic nomination to run for the County Legislature seat Ed Romaine is leaving to ascend to Brookhaven supervisor. With Suffolk Democratic leader Rich Schaffer voicing support for the councilman just minutes after Mr. Romaine’s Election Night victory, it’s hard to imagine anyone else getting the nod.

Should Mr. Krupski prevail, the script many believed the parties would follow in future elections gets thrown out the window.

Although he’s the Town Board’s lone Democrat, Mr. Krupski is a fiscal conservative. That’s hardly surprising given his farming background. Votes split along party lines are as rare as Democratic victories. Mr. Krupski is universally admired and respected, a fact quite evident when his party “roasted” him earlier this year. A number of Republicans attended and GOP Supervisor Scott Russell was the main “roaster,” having a great deal of fun at the councilman’s expense. The two have a close bond, so close that Mr. Krupski has said he’d never run for supervisor as long as Mr. Russell holds the job, and the supervisor recently said he wouldn’t run against the councilman in the special legislative election.

The consensus Republicans and Democrats shared was that Mr. Krupski was heir-apparent to the supervisor’s post should Mr. Russell leave town government, and that he’d serve there for 20 years or more if he so wished. He’s the Democrats’ rising star and — should he run, win and move on to county government — he’d be extremely difficult for the party to replace.

Whoever wins the special election will serve only one year and face re-election in 2013. Were Mr. Krupski to win, the Town Board would likely appoint a replacement, who also would serve one year and face re-election next fall.

Get ready. The carousel is about to start spinning.

05/31/12 11:19am
05/31/2012 11:19 AM

JERI WOODHOUSE

The Southold Democratic Party has selected Jeri Woodhouse of Orient to face incumbent GOP Trustee Mike Domino in November’s special election.

No stranger to town government, Ms. Woodhouse served as chairwoman of the town Planning Board during the administration of former supervisor Josh Horton. She ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Town Board in 2009.

She owns and operates the Taste of the North Fork food business in Cutchogue.

“Jeri is a strong candidate with a background of Democratic Party participation, community affairs and is a business woman,” said Art Tillman, Southold Democratic chairman. “We are most pleased Jeri has decided to  run.”

She’ll be up against Mike Domino of Southold, who in January was appointed to a one-year Trustee term to fill the vacancy left when GOP Trustee Jill Doherty was elected town councilwoman. Mr. Domino is a retired science teacher and former president of the North Fork Environmental Council.

10/15/11 1:31pm
10/15/2011 1:31 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Greenport couple George Agnew and Linda Mugford with Southold resident Ellen Gomez hold protest signs in front of Rothmans on Saturday where Southold Democrats gathered and called for the preservation of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Southold Democrats held a rally Saturday, calling for the preservation of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, as well as what committee chairman Art Tillman is describing as “a new plank” in his party’s platform: eliminating helicopter noise on the North Fork.

Frank Dalene, vice chairman of the civic action group Quiet Skies Coalition, told a crowd of about 30 people at Rothmans Department Store in Southold that he believes helicopter noise  could be reduced if East Hampton Airport returns to operating as a private airport.

“[The airport] now acts as a commercial hub,” said Mr. Dalene, a pilot from Wainscott. “It’s an aerial assault on our quality of life. The same helicopters that fly over your homes, fly over ours.”

Mr. Tillman said the Democrats decided to join Quiet Skies Coalition’s quest because helicopter traffic has increased over the past few years.

“As the rich get even more money, they resort to helicopters and it seems the public be damned,” Mr. Tillman said.

There will be a public forum on helicopter noise at the LTV PBS television station, located at 75 Industrial Road in East Hampton, on Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m.

Mr. Tillman, along with Town Board challenger Marie Domenici and Town Justice candidate Brian Hughes, hope campaign efforts such as Saturday’s rally will help make up for the party’s decision to forgo the use of political signs.

“Because our candidates agreed to no signs, we are taking one big risk,” he said, adding that his party plans to spread its campaign message through “non-conventional” methods. “If the people would read about our policies online, then we will win.”

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05/25/11 6:55pm
05/25/2011 6:55 PM

TIM KELLY PHOTO

With the exception of town assessor, Southold’s Democratic Party will field a full slate of candidates in the fall town elections, and the party promises a “very dynamic” campaign.

Democrats, who in recent years have focused on Town Board races, chose seven candidates during their convention Tuesday night. Among them are challengers to Republican incumbents in the tax receiver and town justice positions who have long gone unchallenged.

“Anticipate that this is going to be a very dynamic election season,” said Regina Calcaterra of New Suffolk.

The one ballot slot the party will not fill is town assessor. Town Chairman Art Tillman said the party believes tax assessments should be taken out of the political process and completed by non-elected civil service employees.

Although some party members previously called for leaving the supervisor’s position uncontested as well, the party nominated Southold attorney Robert Meguin, a former member of the town’s ethics committee, to take on incumbent Scott Russell.

Mr. Meguin described himself as a “reluctant” candidate who agreed at the last minute to step in. The top of the ticket includes town council candidates Marie Domenici and Nicholas Deegan, both of Mattituck. They’ll be up against Councilman Bill Ruland and Jill Doherty, a town trustee. Councilman Vinny Orlando, whose term is up, is not seeking re-election.

A native of Ireland, Mr. Deegan has been active in local athletics and serves as a Mattituck Parks District commissioner. Ms. Domenici said she became active in local issues while recovering from breast cancer. She worked for the North Fork Environmental Council and serves as chair of the town’s renewable energy committee.

The Democrats also chose Steve Brautigam of Laurel and Lynn Summers of Mattituck to run for town Trustee. They’ll face Jimmy King and Bob Ghosio.

After 20 years with the Village of Greenport, at one time serving as clerk/treasurer and head of utilities, Mr. Brautigam now works as village administrator for Ocean Beach on Fire Island.

Ms. Summers is an educator who has been involved in a number of causes, including the construction of a playground behind the Cutchogue East School and the preservation of Wolf Pit Lake in Mattituck.

To take on tax receiver George Sullivan, the party chose Kerrie Amerson of Southold. Ms. Amerson is a dispatcher for the Southampton Village Police Department.

Brian Hughes of Southold will challenge Town Justice Rudolph Bruer. Mr. Hughes worked as a prosecutor in the City of New York’s fire marshal’s office and served as head of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s public corruption section.

Although the Democrats are not fielding a challenger to assessor Darline Duffy, the party will ask the Town Board to seek first-class town status, which would permit the elimination of elected assessors, Mr. Tillman said.

“It’s ludicrous to get your assessments through the political process,” the chairman said during the party gathering at the Universalist Church in Southold. “There’s always the hint of bias, if not out-and-out bias.”

Several weeks ago, the party backed Mr. Tillman’s call to push the town to obtain first-class status to permit a switch on electing town council members from the present at-large system to councilmatic districts. That issue was not discussed during Tuesday’s convention.

Supervisor candidate Meguin has served as law clerk for several county court judges who moved on to private practice. In 2005, he ran unsuccessfully for state Supreme Court judge.

He said Town Hall suffers from a lack of vision and that he will wage “a campaign of ideas.”

“I want to dissect the entire government and see if we need it,” he said. “Nobody thinks about what the consequences are 10 and 20 years down the line.”

Although he did not initially seek to challenge the supervisor, Mr. Meguin said, “My heart is really in this … I will listen, learn and, with you, lead.”

During an impassioned address, the chairman also said the Democrats will not limit the campaign to local concerns.

“We’re going to talk about national issues in this town because national issues have an impact on the people of this town,” he said.

On historic social issues such as the creation of Social Security and Medicare, “You name it, we were behind it,” said Mr. Tillman. “They [the GOP] fought it and continue to fight it.”

He added that the party will offer voters a true alternative.

“We’re going to out-grass roots them, but this is no Tea Party, no way,” the chairman said. “This is not Republican-lite, this is the Democratic Party.”

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10/06/10 4:48pm
10/06/2010 4:48 PM

The Tuthill era has ended for Southold’s Democrats and the Tillman epoch has begun.
Art Tillman of Mattituck was elected Tuesday night as the party’s new chairman after Larry Tuthill, who held that position for 10 years, withdrew his name from consideration.
Mr. Tillman described the party as “in shambles” and in need of rebuilding.
Considered perennial underdogs in local politics, the Democrats currently have only two elected officials serving in town government. More than half of the party’s committee seats are vacant. The committee did not meet between October 2009 and September 2010, has not held a fundraiser in the past year and has only about $600 in its treasury.
“We are hurting big-time,” Mr. Tillman said shortly after assuming his new position. He was the only one nominated for the leader’s job. “I like to think that a vote for me is a vote for change.”
He described the 2007 elections, the last time the supervisor’s seat was on the ballot, as “disastrous for us.” In that race, Republican Supervisor Scott Russell won re-election with an unheard of 83 percent of the vote and incumbent Democratic councilmen Dan Ross and Bill Edwards both were turned out of office. Those results left the party with a “general malaise and a sense of discouragement,” the new chairman said.
“We have to turn the party around and I think we can do it,” said Mr. Tillman, a retired teacher who has lived in Mattituck since 1976. “But I can’t do it alone.”
He suggested that the party must at times reach out to the town’s Conservative and Independence party organizations.
“We don’t win elections, generally speaking, unless we can bring people under this big tent,” he said. Toward that end, the party has appointed its first Hispanic committee member, Carlos Gonzalez of Southold.
“His job is to reach out to the Hispanic community and make them feel they are a part of us,” said Mr. Tillman. “The Hispanics are the future base of this party.”
Mr. Tillman said he began calling committee members over the weekend seeking their support in his bid for chairman. Mr. Tuthill, whose two-year term was up, informed the committee of his decision to step aside a few hours before the convention at First Universalist Church of Southold.
Mr. Tuthill has been a committeeman for 20 years, and has seen the party’s fortunes rise to new heights and sink to new lows during that time. During the last half of the Josh Horton administration, the Democrats controlled the Town Board for the first time in memory. He agreed that the 2007 town elections left the Democrats reeling.
“I don’t regret any of the candidates we’ve run,” said Mr. Tuthill. “I am proud of the fact that we’ve run excellent candidates who won and served the town well.”
As to his decision to step aside in deference to Mr. Tillman, his second in command, Mr. Tuthill said, “The party is ready for a change, I’m ready for a change and it will be good for Southold Democrats.”
Denis Noncarrow, the town’s GOP leader, had nothing but praise for Mr. Tuthill.
“Working with Larry was an absolute pleasure,” he said. “He taught me the greatest truth about doing this stuff, which is never take anything too seriously. I’ll never forget that.”
Mr. Noncarrow said he doesn’t know Mr. Tillman, “but I’m sure we’ll work well together.”
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