A Greenport Village trustee and three other residents criticized the Southold Town Board Tuesday evening for failing to comment publicly on the recent arrests of two members of the Southold Town Republican Committee.
The Suffolk County District Attorney announced earlier this month the arrests of the two Board of Elections employees in connection with alleged forgery of signatures on nominating petitions for the 2018 election. William Mann, 60, of Cutchogue was charged with second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, a felony; first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, also a felony; and two counts of official misconduct.
Gregory Dickerson, 55, of Mattituck was charged with two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and two counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, all felonies.
“We have two people arrested and charged with trying to steal an election, including misrepresenting themselves while on the clock, taxpayer-funded,” village Trustee Doug Roberts said at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting.
He added that it is the public officials’ job to protect the public from things like these, not to be loyal to their party.
“Please, end your silence on the election fraud issue,” Mr. Roberts said. “Stand up for ethics and for justice.”
Kathryn Casey Quigley, Southold Town Democratic Committee chair, said she found it appalling that these arrests occurred two weeks ago and no one from the Town Board has called for an investigation into their own party.
“Your subsequent failure to speak out on these actions once they came to light — actions that erode voters’ trust in our democratic systems — makes each of you complicit,” she said to the board members.
She then called for the board to take a public position on the issue and to call on GOP chair Peter McGreevy to bring “necessary reforms in order to protect your party, all voters and the political system.”
Ted Thirby of Southold also commented on the board’s silence.
“We have all heard about this kind of thing happening around the country, but as it turns out, we are not isolated from this kind of fraud,” he said. “It’s upsetting to learn that it’s happening right here in Southold.”
Town Board members made no response to speakers during the regular meeting, which was closed at the conclusion of the public comments.
“The fact that no one responded, after so many residents came here to speak, is complete cowardice,” Ms. Casey Quigley said afterward. “It makes the whole thing just worse.”
In an interview after the meeting, Supervisor Scott Russell said he does not comment on investigations until they are closed.
“I don’t condemn or condone people until investigations are complete and conclusions are made, regardless of party affiliation,” he said.
Mr. Roberts said party affiliation doesn’t matter when it comes to “ethics, common sense and getting things done locally.”
Mr. Russell defended the board, saying he has appointed Democrats to the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals.
“We run in a nonpartisan way and I think the public knows the distinction between us and party activities,” he said.
Photo: Doug Roberts addresses the Town Board Tuesday evening. (Credit: Rachel Siford)