Deegan beats Goehringer in park commissioner race

A tough campaign ended with a handshake last Thursday night after incumbent Nicholas Deegan soundly defeated challenger Gerard Goehringer Jr. 453-289 in the race to serve as commissioner of the Mattituck Park District.
It took almost an hour and half for poll workers to count the 742 paper and absentee ballots before Mr. Deegan emerged victorious.
“If I don’t win, I’ll run again next year,” Mr. Goehringer said before the polls closed at 9 p.m. If he holds to his plan — and if she seeks re-election — his opponent next year would be incumbent commissioner Doris McGreevy, who will complete her first three-year term next fall.
This was Mr. Goehringer’s second attempt in as many years to return to the Board of Commissioners, on which he served for 30 years before opting not to run in 2007. Last year, he lost by almost 100 votes against Charles Zaloom.
In 2007, Mr. Goehringer and his board faced stiff criticism from residents over a proposal to place cell phone towers at Veterans Memorial Park and Bailie Beach. In the face of the uproar, the board abandoned the cell phone tower plan. Today, Mr. Goehringer denies it was the reason he opted not to seek re-election.
His love of the parks is what’s motivating his desire to return as a commissioner, he said.
In this year’s bruising battle, Mr. Deegan struck the first blow, charging that under Mr. Goehringer’s leadership, the board had been guilty of bad record keeping and had allowed questionable charges for gasoline and cell phone usage. Mr. Goehringer denied there had been any improprieties and said all records were intact at the park office when he left.
As vote counting got under way at the park district office last Thursday, Mr. Goehringer sat stone-faced, awaiting the voters’ verdict. Mr. Deegan, too nervous to sit through the count, left the building to begin picking up his campaign signs. He returned about an hour later and was there when election coordinator Lydia Tortora announced the results.
Mr. Deegan and Mr. Goehringer shook hands and Mr. Deegan thanked his fellow commissioners — Ms. McGreevy and Mr. Zaloom — for endorsing his candidacy. He said he was grateful to the district taxpayers for the faith they had placed in him and his colleagues.
“It made it an honor to run,” he said.
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