“Sustainability” is more than a tagline or a campaign slogan for the Democratic candidates this fall. It’s going to be part of their spot on the ballot.
Hundreds of signatures have backed the creation of a new independent nominating petition, “Sustainable Southold,” which in some cases will add an extra line on the ballot for the candidates.
“The idea here is to give people the option to vote not necessarily for the party, but to vote for the platform and in my opinion, vote for the people,” said Damon Rallis, the Democratic candidate for supervisor.
Mr. Rallis will be facing off against incumbent Scott Russell, who is running on the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines. Along with Mr. Russell, Councilman Bill Ruland and Councilwoman Jill Doherty are seeking re-election on the same lines.
Democratic candidates Debbie O’Kane and Albie de Kerillis will face off against the incumbent Republicans.
According to the Board of Elections, candidates will run on the Sustainable Southold line only if they have the backing of a single major party. If they are backed by two parties, there will only be a Sustainable Southold indicia, or emblem, on the ballot next to one of the major parties that supports the candidate.
That means only the Democratic candidates for Trustee — Nick Krupski and Matthew Kappell — will technically run on a Sustainable Southold line. The rest of the candidates, including Mr. Rallis, have the backing of at least two other major parties.
Mr. Rallis pointed to the birth and domination of the short-lived United Southold party as a reason for filing the petition.
United Southold was formed during the 1993 election season and included a cross-section of candidates from the two major parties.
The Republican and Democratic parties responded at the time by cross-endorsing candidates of their own parties to keep US out of office. But the effort failed as Tom Wickham led a sweep of the ticket that year; every US candidate who ran, won. The party took the supervisor’s seat, two town board seats, the town justice post and three trustee seats.
Mr. Rallis, however, recognized the largest difference between the two efforts: while US has candidates from both sides of the aisle, Sustainable Southold is comprised solely of Democrats.
Mr. Rallis said he’s had enough of rubber stamp endorsements by the Conservative and Independence Parties for Republican candidates as of late. Since Josh Horton won his 2003 term as supervisor in town on the Democratic line, only one Democratic candidate for town council or supervisor has earned the nomination of either the Conservative Party or the Independence Party. Democrat Bob Maguin earned the Independence Party nod in 2009 — a line on which he earned 105 votes — and still only came away with 24 percent of the overall vote.
“Just like it did back in ’93, this shines a light on, not one-party rule, but one-group rule,” said Mr. Rallis.
In Southold, 387 signatures were required for an independent nominating petition this year. According to Mr. Rallis, the group rallied close to 650 signatures in total.
As for the message — sustainability — the candidates are pointing to environmental and affordable housing concerns as some of the biggest issues facing Southold.
In a prepared statement, Ms. O’Kane pointed to “overdevelopment, congested roads, degradation of our bays, creeks and drinking water, a lack of affordable housing, and the need for greater job opportunities” as major problems Southold Town must deal with.
“We found overwhelming support from town residents for this issue-based ballot line,” she said.
Southold Supervisor Scott Russell said that the “sustainable” platform may not exclude what his administration is already doing, however.
“I would like to think that those goals and objectives are something we are already achieving,” Mr. Russell said. “I would love to have a discussion about their specific ideas, and look forward to the season where we can have a more in-depth discussion on those issues.”