Mattituck man launches bid for town supervisor; Russell noncommital

Damon Rallis is making his first run for public office. (Credit: Courtesy photo)
Damon Rallis is making his first run for public office. (Credit: Courtesy photo)

Damon Rallis hasn’t exactly been quiet about his discontent with Southold Town Hall in recent years. And now, the Democrat — who, as it turns out, works in Town Hall — has made his intent to run for supervisor official.

Mr. Rallis, 40, created a Facebook page this week that states he’s “actively seeking the Democratic nomination as a candidate for Southold Town Supervisor in 2015.”

The Mattituck resident is the first formal opposition to arise this year to incumbent Supervisor Scott Russell, who has not yet committed to seeking re-election.

A Southold Town building permit examiner since 2001, Mr. Rallis has also served as a code enforcement officer for three years in between.

Mr. Rallis, a graduate of Greenport High School, said he hasn’t been shy about his intent to run. Creating the Facebook page was just a natural next step.

“I haven’t been hiding anything,” he said.

In an interview Thursday, Mr. Rallis pointed to his experience working in Town Hall as one major reason he would be a viable candidate.

“I’ve been on the inside for 15 years,” he said. “I know what works. I know what doesn’t work.”

He said he wants to run because he sees single-party rule as a threat to effective operations in town government. Councilman Jim Dinizio is enrolled as a Conservative, though among four other Republicans, Mr. Rallis said, “We don’t have one elected official that has a different voice.”

As reasons why he would be an asset to town taxpayers, he pointed to a recent state audit that found financial shortcomings in town, and said town officials lack a long-term plan for the town’s real estate assets.

Noting a Suffolk Times cover story about a $3 million plan to build a new justice court, he asked, “Why aren’t we sitting down with a long-range plan for what we are going to do with all these government facilities?”

Mr. Rallis, who is married and has two sons, was a managing editor at the now-defunct Traveler-Watchman newspaper before moving to Town Hall in 2001.  He was a building permit examiner from 2001 to 2010, then a code enforcement officer from 2010 to 2013 before returning to the examiner position, according to his resumé. He never held the two positions at once.

Mr. Russell, who has won his two races as an incumbent in landslides in 2011 and 2007, first defeated Democrat Bill Edwards in 2005. In 2007, Mr. Russell defeated Chris Baiz, owner of Old Field Vineyard, gathering 82 percent of the vote.

Four years later, he took 76 percent of the vote over Bob Meguin.

Reached this week, the supervisor said he’s still unsure if he’ll run for re-election, and declined to comment in much detail on Mr. Rallis’ candidacy.

“If and when he is a candidate, I would be glad to have a substantive discussion on the issues,” he said.

Town Republican Committee Chairman Peter McGreevy said the town committee would support Mr. Russell if he chose to run again.

Southold Democratic Committee Chairman Art Tillman said that so far, Mr. Rallis is “the only one who overtly expressed that he will screen with us.”

He said the screenings will start in May or June, depending on when the county conventions are held.

“He’s an insider and knows how it works,” said Mr. Tillman of Mr. Rallis. “He’s also extremely intelligent and very personable.”

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