Editorial: Krupski decision will change landscape

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.