UPDATE: More than two weeks after the unexpected Conservative write-in primary for Southold Town Clerk, the Suffolk County Board of Elections has released the results.
As expected, incumbent Betty Neville has secured the nomination. She received 29 write-in votes in the election, with a total of 33 votes cast. The other four votes were, one each, for Janet Healey, Ray Perini, Craig Goldsmith and Kelley (one name).
There are 447 enrolled Conservatives in Southold Town. Voter turnout was just over 7 percent.
(ORIGINAL STORY: SEPT. 10) Southold Town Clerk Betty Neville has never faced a political opponent, having been elected four times while running unopposed.
While that could change today, local political leaders say it’s unlikely.
Ms. Neville, a Republican, became the subject of an unexpected primary election being held today after county Conservative officials accidentally left her name off the nominating petitions submitted to the Board of Elections, Conservative and Republican officials said.
“There was a screw up and she was left off the petitions,” said Suffolk County Conservative chairman Ed Walsh. “There is no action being taken.”
Mr. Walsh said the party now just needs to get enough enrolled Southold Conservatives out to the polls to cast write-in votes to make sure the 16-year incumbent secures the nomination.
Southold Conservative chairman Bob Goodale said Tuesday that this year’s primary points to issues with changes in the way Conservative candidates are nominated since the nominees are now selected at the county level.
“In the old days we fielded our own candidates,” he said.
While Ms. Neville’s name was left off the ballot, Southold Republican Chairman Peter McGreevy said he has not heard of anyone contesting her nomination.
“I haven’t heard a thing about someone launching a write-in campaign,” he said. “She’s been there so long, is so well established and has such strong support.”
Ms. Neville said Tuesday that she had no hard feelings about the oversight.
“I appreciate the efforts of the Conservative Party,” she said.
Ms. Neville has held the seat since 1997, when she was nominated to replace Judith Terry, to whom she had served as deputy town clerk.
It’s been 28 years since a Town Clerk nominee has faced an opponent in Southold. The last contested race was in 1985, when Right to Life candidate Margaret Kaelin opposed Ms. Terry. The Right to Life party ran a nearly full slate of local candidates that year.
Southold Democrats have not run a candidate for Town Clerk since 1981.
Voting is taking place at the usual polling places in Southold Town.