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Southold Town comptroller to step down next month

John Cushman

After serving as Southold Town’s comptroller for three decades, John Cushman has announced plans to leave in March.

Mr. Cushman started his role as comptroller in 1987, when the town’s bookkeeping system was still kept by hand. Since then, he said, he’s been proud of the progress his office has made to keep up with the town’s fiscal and economic growth.

“We’ve been working under budget constraints forever and it’s never been easy,” he said. “It’s always been a challenge. The Town Board has done the right thing by holding the line and being very careful with how they manage resources.”

Mr. Cushman said he recently accepted a new position as director of development for Ducks Unlimited, a nonprofit committed to wetlands and waterfowl conservation. He said he looks forward to embarking on this new chapter and working for a cause that has been important to him since he was a child.

“This is an opportunity for me that might not come again in my working career and I don’t want to have any regrets five years from now,” he said.

Southold Supervisor Scott Russell said Mr. Cushman has been one of his most trusted advisers, as well as a good friend. Seeing him go gives him mixed emotions, he said.

“I’m happy for him,” he said. “He’s moving on to greater things. At the same time, I’m a little shellshocked because he’s going to be nearly impossible to replace. I can’t stress enough how important his job is to the town and how good at his job he is. His commitment to this community is unmatched.”

Mr. Cushman also said he has mixed emotions about leaving the people who have supported him.

“It’s hard to believe it was 30 years ago — it went by quick,” he said, adding that his last day at his office in the Southold Town Hall annex is March 3. “I’ve made some wonderful friends here, some lifelong friends, and I will continue those friendships for sure.”

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Photo: Southold Town comptroller John Cushman at his office Tuesday. (Credit: Kelly Zegers)