A pair of longtime elected Southold Town officials plans to retire at the end of the year.
Town Justice Rudolph Bruer and Town Trustee Jim King have both informed Republican leadership that they will not seek re-election to the posts they’ve each held for about two decades, GOP chairman Peter McGreevy confirmed Tuesday.
Both were first elected in 1995, a year that saw town Republicans surge back into power following a disappointing run two years earlier against the United Southold ticket.
Mr. King defeated Conservative candidate Arthur Foster by just 31 votes to replace former trustee William Albertson, a Democrat who did not seek re-election that year.
A bayman who previously served as Trustee president, Mr. King’s fifth term expires Dec. 31.
“It’s time to pass the baton to somebody younger, with more energy,” he said.
The 72-year-old counts seeing Mattituck Creek reopen to commercial and recreational shellfishing earlier this year as his biggest accomplishment as Trustee.
Shortly after taking office in 1996, Mr. King began working with town engineers and fellow Trustees to test area creeks previously closed by the state Department of Conservation , hoping to identify specific sources of pollution and mitigate stormwater runoff that was affecting the creek’s water quality.
Two decades later, more than 50 acres of Mattituck Creek were reopened to bayman in January for the first time since the 1980s.
“We went from zero shellfishing to it being seasonal,” Mr. King said. “That was my biggest focus for quite a few years.”
Current Trustee president John Bredemeyer said things won’t be the same without Mr. King, the longest tenured of the current members.
“Jim and I go back a long time,” Mr. Bredemeyer said. “His work will be missed.”
Mr. Bruer replaced retiring judge Frederick Tedeschi after winning a three-candidate race by 519 votes in 1995. A Southold resident since 1960, Mr. Bruer, 75, who was on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment, began practicing law in 1965.
Mr. Bruer’s fifth term as town justice expires Dec. 31. It was perhaps his rockiest, given the resignation of longtime justice court clerk Christine Stulsky, who was later convicted of stealing more than $230,000 from the town bail fund.
Mr. McGreevy spoke admirably of both men Tuesday, saying they should be praised for their years of service to the town.
“Jimmy King devoted a major portion of his life to being a Trustee,” he said. “He was objective, always conscious of the environment and, as a fisherman himself, provided a unique perspective.
“Judge Bruer was a respected and trusted judge for 20 years in this town, something more than evidenced by past re-election results,” he continued.
Mr. McGreevy said he’s heard from four potential candidates interested in filling the trustee seat and three more inquiring about running for town justice, though he declined to name them. He said candidates will be screened later this month and a nominating convention will be held in May.
Southold Town Democratic Committee chairman Art Tillman said he is aware of both officials’ decisions to step down and already has candidates interested in the posts, but they have not yet met with the party’s screening committee. A screening date has yet to be scheduled, he added.
Eight town seats, all controlled by Republicans, will be up for grabs in the Nov. 3 election. Mr. Bruer’s open seat is the only justice position on the ballot this year, but there are two trustee seats being decided, with incumbent Dave Bergen seeking re-election for his seat.
On the Town Board, incumbent council members Jill Doherty and Bill Ruland will seek re-election as will Supervisor Scott Russell, who is expected to face Democratic challenger Damon Rallis.
The terms of tax receiver George Sullivan and assessor Rich Caggiano are also up this year and both are seeking re-election.