I agree that deal-making between the Conservative and Democratic parties is deceptive, erodes trust among voters and demonstrates a lack of commitment to the ideals and vision of the Democratic Party. I disagree that endorsing or voting for Theresa Whelan perpetuates that troubling behavior, or that voting against her addresses the problem. And I object that an implication of Mr. Wick’s article is that by endorsing Ms. Whelan the Southold Democrats in any way endorse the deal-making at the county level (“Surrogate judge primary conceals a scandal,” Sept. 6).
In my view, Ms. Whelan is the consequence of the fallout of a scandal, rather than part of the scandal. She was selected as the party’s candidate only after the Conservative-Democratic party deal fell through, with Marian Tinari stepping down. Tara Scully successfully thwarted this deal with her presence on the ballot. But that fact — especially when considering some of the troubling aspects of Ms. Scully’s candidacy — does not then grant her the status as the de-facto best candidate for the job.
It is irresponsible to presume that the Southold Democrats don’t have full insight into the race or that their decision to endorse was anything less than carefully considered. In fact, the committee discussed the circumstances that led to Ms. Whelan’s candidacy, her skills and background and the important role our local party has to inform voters about the candidate in the race that we believe to be most qualified to serve and represent the party’s ideals.
The column doesn’t mention that Ms. Scully purportedly paid canvassers to collect petitions that got her the Democratic line, or that her party used deceptive tactics to get her onto the Green party line. Moreover, it is not a “knee-jerk” reaction to object to a candidate “masquerading” as a Democrat when she is a Republican. The two parties — even in judgeships — represent dramatically different values, now more than ever. And it is the same reasoning that would lead one to object to a cross-party endorsement deal that would lead one to object to a Republican surreptitiously running in a Democratic primary.
Voting for Tara Scully for Surrogate Court judge does nothing to solve the deal-making at the county level. A win for Ms. Scully is no more than a “gotcha” moment for county party leaders and a win for the Republican party.
Encouraging others to vote for Ms. Scully as a protest vote against party horse-trading is just another way that our political system gets abused. It’s endorsing the notion of using an important role within our legal system to send a message rather than to think about how we best serve the position itself. It is my personal hope that if the Conservative line opens up as described in the editorial, Ms. Whelan declines it as a demonstration of her independence. But I won’t hinge my support in the primary on speculation.
Democratic voters should ask themselves: “Who is the best, most qualified person to serve as Suffolk County Surrogate judge?” Southold Democrats believe this is Theresa Whelan.
The author is chairwoman of the Southold Town Democrats.