Southold Democrats keep Save Medicare line on ballot

The names of Southold’s Democratic candidates will appear on a second line on next month’s election ballot.

In a split decision, the Suffolk Board of Elections dismissed a Republican challenge to the Democrats’ “Save Medicare” line. The Southold GOP challenged the line, saying hundreds of the required petition signatures were invalid. Republican elections commissioner Wayne Rogers agreed but his Democratic counterpart, Anita Katz, did not.

With all BOE decisions requiring unanimity, the challenge failed.

Southold Democratic chairman Art Tillman said the BOE’s decision will allow voters “to send a message far beyond our town, should Southold seniors and others vote for our candidates on the Save Medicare line in large numbers.

Those dependent upon Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid now have an opportunity to send the message to preserve and protect these programs from Republicans’ proposed cuts.”

Republican Supervisor Scott Russell accused the Democrats of pandering for votes.

“I think the public knows that how they vote for a town Trustee candidate will have no impact on the Medicare debate,” said the supervisor, who is running this year for another four-year term. “This was a cynical ploy to capture the well-founded fear of our seniors and most vulnerable residents for local political gain. I think the public is smarter than that.”

Southold’s GOP candidates will appear on the Republican and Conservative lines. All Republicans except Mr. Russell also hold the Independence Party’s endorsement. That party supported Democratic supervisor candidate Bob Meguin, who previously ran for judicial posts with Independence backing.

Mr. Russell said he advised Southold GOP chairman Denis Noncarrow to forgo the petitions challenge.

“It’s a minor party line, way down at the bottom of the ballot,” the supervisor said. “I saw it as a distraction. I’d rather focus on local issues.”

Mr. Noncarrow said his party will not pursue its opposition to the Save Medicare line in court.

“That’s just more taxpayers’ money,” he said. “It’s enough we spent so much on those primaries.”

That’s a reference to Democratic town justice candidate Bob Hughes’ unsuccessful attempt in September to knock incumbent GOP Justice Rudolph Bruer off the Conservative and Independence Party lines. Mr. Bruer won both primaries by 4 to 1 margins.

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