Democrat Sarah Nappa was elected to the Southold Town Board following the formal count of absentee ballots by the Suffolk County Board of Elections Friday.
Ms. Nappa, 38, becomes the first Democrat in a decade to be elected to the Town Board.
She’ll join incumbent Republican Jill Doherty, who was the top vote getter. Ms. Nappa’s win means incumbent Republican William Ruland, who was first elected to the Town Board in 2007, will lose his seat.
“We’ve been running as a team so we were holding on to the end,” Ms. Nappa said Friday afternoon. “I feel good this was an extremely close race and a historic one for Southold town. I’m honored to be able to represent all the people of Southold. Clearly there’s a lot of people that are ready for a change in leadership and I’m happy to represent that.”
After Election Day, Mr. Ruland led Ms. Nappa by 47 votes for the second spot. Ms. Nappa picked up 347 absentee votes while Mr. Ruland gained 215. That brought the total for Ms. Nappa to 4,078 while Mr. Ruland finished with 3,993.
“You serve at the will of the people,” Mr. Ruland said in an interview Friday afternoon. “If the people make another choice, you have to accept it and move on.”
He said he’s proud of his 12-year tenure on the Town Board, with regard to maintaining the town’s fiscal status and providing services to residents. “The biggest satisfaction I had was working with a group of people that are all focused on what’s best for all the people of the town of Southold, whether they vote for you or not,” Mr. Ruland said. “[The people] have chosen to make a change.”
Ms. Doherty, 55, received 4,118 votes to be elected to her third term. Democrat Bob Hanlon finished fourth in the voting with 3,948. Though he came up short, Mr. Hanlon congratulated Ms. Nappa. “She’s going to be a great force on the Town Board,” he said, adding that he thought the election results signify a “real movement in this town in the right direction.”
Republican Supervisor Scott Russell, who held a 220-vote lead after election night, held on to defeat Democratic challenger Greg Doroski after absentees were counted. Mr. Russell, 55, will serve his fifth term beginning in January.
Mr. Russell received 4,220 votes, gaining an additional 232 in absentees, while Mr. Doroski, 39, finished with 4,107. He gained 339 absentee votes, which wasn’t enough to close the gap.
Mr. Doroski called to concede to Mr. Russell around 12:45 p.m. Friday.
Mr. Russell said his opponent was “professional and gracious” throughout the campaign and he said Mr. Doroski earned the right to have his voice heard moving forward.
Mr. Doroski said the close results indicate “a near majority of our community voted for change.”
He said the past few week have been “tough” as the results remained in limbo and he said he hopes to remain involved in some form.
“I am grateful for the confidence the public showed in me,” Mr. Russell said. “That said, a substantial number of people believed we needed new leadership. It’s my duty to find out why and try to do a better job representing them.”
He added that losing Mr. Ruland on the board is “a great loss.”
“The farmers deserve the right to have a farmer represent them on the board. I will do the best I can to represent them as well as Bill has,” he said.
In the justice race, Democrat Dan Ross defeated incumbent Republican Brian Hughes by 27 votes.
There are 57 votes being contested by lawyers at the Board of Elections — 31 Republican and 26 Democratic — but those did not alter the results.
“Many people worked hard on my behalf — my running mates, so I want to thank them and the voters for their faith in me,” Mr. Ross said. “I’m going to do what I said I was going to do and deliver excellent service to the citizens of Southold.”
Southold Town Democratic Committee Chair Kathryn Casey Quigley said the results show Southold “recognizes that it’s time to have balanced leadership in government.”
“To lose a supervisor race to a 14-year incumbent by around 100 votes is a tremendous accomplishment,” she said.
Republican Committee Chair Peter McGreevy said the results were what he anticipated after Election Day. He said he was glad to see Mr. Russell win and for the town to move forward under his leadership.
He described Mr. Ruland as a “great public servant.”
“Bill has dedicated most of his adult life to the people of Southold,” he said. “We’re sad to see him go.”