Two years ago, Southold Town’s Democratic challengers ran on the need to bring party balance to an all-Republican Town Board.
With the board now in its third year of one-party rule, the Democrats opted for a different theme this time around: “Sustainable Southold.” Within this platform, the challengers have called for “fair and balanced decision making, adoption of policies and enforcement,” but the overall plea for partisan balance on the board has been muted this time around. The party even nominated a pair of registered Republicans to its town slate, including Town Board candidate Albie de Kerillis, a GOP nominee for the same post in 2009.
The one problem with this year’s approach is that the Democrats still ultimately need to convince voters that there’s a need for change if they’re going to have any chance of winning a Town Board seat. That’s a tricky task when most residents appear generally content with the town’s direction — and rightfully so.
William Ruland is currently wrapping up his second term as councilman after many years as a school board member in Mattituck. He’s an honest man with a strong work ethic who is thoughtful and calculated in his decision-making approach. He’s also served admirably in his dual role as deputy supervisor, occasionally chairing meetings in the supervisor’s absence.
It’s clear to anyone who’s spent time around Mr. Ruland that he genuinely cares about his community, is knowledgeable about the issues and values his role as a public servant.
Ms. Doherty, a former town Trustee, is seeking her second term. She’s served as a fine example that one-party rule doesn’t have to mean rubber stamp. Most notably, she cast the lone dissenting vote against the town’s short-term rental legislation and also rejected the appointment of a town Trustee.
Affordable housing is one issue on which Ms. Doherty has spoken passionately during this campaign and could help provide much needed leadership to the Town Board. And in her role as liaison to the Justice Court, she has an opportunity to further advance the town’s plan to create a new courthouse and to help implement reforms in light of last year’s bail fund scandal.
Of the challengers, we like Ms. O’Kane best. Her experience as executive director of the North Fork Environmental Council makes her an attractive candidate in a town where environmental issues are always front and center. Her idea for public-private transit service on the North Fork to help alleviate congestion on our roads and improve public transportation options, while ambitious, was original and refreshing. She vowed during her campaign to be an outside-the-box thinker and seemed to offer up enough new ideas to back it up.
Mr. de Kerillis, meanwhile, is a candidate we’ve seen before on the campaign trail. He’s an affable, hard-working individual with a solid résumé as a volunteer. And while his heart seems to be in the right place, he comes up short on ideas that can truly make a difference.
Mr. Ruland and Ms. Doherty have already proven themselves as effective representatives for the people of Southold Town. They’ve each earned another term in office.