Former Southold Town supervisor Josh Horton emerged Tuesday as a surprise candidate for Greenport mayor, seeking to unseat incumbent David Nyce. Until this past weekend, it appeared that Mr. Nyce would be running unopposed for a second four-year term.
Not only did Mr. Horton step forward to run against the mayor, but he did so with a ringing endorsement from Trustee Michael Osinski, who decided at the last minute not to seek re-election.
“I’m happy Josh is running; we need a stronger character as mayor,” Mr. Osinski said in an interview Tuesday night. He ran as part of Mr. Nyce’s team four years ago but in recent years the two have frequently clashed at Village Board sessions.
The retiring trustee charged that Mr. Nyce had been too soft on village employees.
Mr. Nyce said in a separate interview Tuesday night that employees have been treated fairly and equitably.
“They’re not getting away with murder,” the mayor said. “I will stand by what I’ve accomplished in the last four years under very difficult circumstances at the outset,” he said, referring to village debt of more than $13 million that his administration inherited.
“I know that I can make a significant difference,” Mr. Horton said of his decision to run against the mayor, a man he calls a friend. “The village needs decisive leadership and I can provide that.”
Will Mr. Horton commit to serving a full four-year term if elected, given previous rumors that he was interested in running for Sen. Kenneth LaValle’s seat should the state senator step down in two years?
“Absolutely,” Mr. Horton said. “I’m a homebody and I want to make a difference in the community in which I live,” he said, maintaining that he turned aside a previous chance to run for a New York State Assembly seat.
Mr. Osinski said he decided not to seek re-election because he wanted to have more time for his family and business without feeling guilty about pending village business.
For months, it had been expected that Mr. Osinski wouldn’t run based on his own statements, but a few weeks ago he took out a petition and said he intended to seek re-election.
His decision leaves three candidates — Trustee George Hubbard Jr., former trustee Bill Swiskey and Historic Preservation Commission chairman David Murray — seeking two trustee seats.
In recent statements, Mr. Nyce has listed among his achievements securing $9 million in federal stimulus funds for an upgrade to the village wastewater treatment plant, laying the groundwork to launch major upgrades to the electric plant and helping to reduce village debt from over $13 million to $9.8 million, which includes $1.5 million of new borrowing for the wastewater treatment plant project.
The mayor has credited the sale of Clark’s Beach and grants secured during the administration of Dave Kapell for some of the debt reduction. But he has also taken credit for good fiscal management that has contributed to having more money to pay down the debt.
Mr. Horton said he wants more emphasis on creating year-round jobs in Greenport and that can “only be accomplished with vision.”
As for balancing his schedule, including his rock band and managing the Corcoran Group’s Southold real estate office, Mr. Horton said he travels with his band only about once every six weeks, on weekends.
“I have a career that I love,” he said of his work with Corcoran. He said both his business and government experience are proof of his ability to tackle the demands of the mayor’s job.
Voters will have the final say on election day, Tuesday, March 15, when polls will be open at the Third Street firehouse from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The Suffolk Times is hosting a candidates’ forum at Greenport United Methodist Church on Thursday, March 3, at 7 p.m.