Election 2021: Southold Town Trustees



Kristina Gabrielsen


Hamlet: Mattituck 

Occupation: Agriculture/Gabrielsen’s Country Plant Farm

Party lines: Republican, Conservative 

About her: Ms. Gabrielsen, 45, was born and raised on the North Fork and resides in Mattituck, where she raised her son, Andre Vega Jr. She runs her family’s farming operation, Gabrielsen’s Country Plant Farm in Jamesport. As a fifth-generation farmer, she said she understands the importance of preserving our natural resources.

Her pitch: As someone with lifelong roots on the North Fork, Ms. Gabrielsen said she understands the importance of preserving the beautiful shorelines, waterways and wetlands of Southold Town. As a farmer working with the land and nature every day, she said she has the hands-on experience necessary to manage Southold’s common lands. As a Trustee, she will work hard to ensure a healthy coastal environment and make decisions based on protecting our natural resources. She said she supports modern solutions that integrate natural and nature-based features while implementing both structural and non-structural solutions to create a more resilient shoreline for future generations.

In her words: “I strongly believe that many issues can be solved with some God-given common sense. Southold is a beautiful town, and it is up to us to step up to protect and preserve the rural and maritime culture of this amazing town.”

Liz Gillooly


Hamlet: Greenport West 

Occupation: Sea captain

Party lines: Democratic, Working Families

About her: Ms. Gillooly, 31, is a small-business owner, a captain, a real estate professional and a homeowner in Greenport. A lifelong environmentalist and activist, she currently serves as a member of the Southold Justice Review & Reform Task Force, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department Community Advisory Board and a board member of MFI Film.

Her pitch: Ms. Gillooly said she grew up with an immense love for local waters. Her childhood experience learning to sail on the bay taught her many life lessons and led her to pursue a career as a Coast Guard-licensed captain. In her five-year training to become a captain, she worked on sailboats all over the world. She learned about marine biology, meteorology, crisis management, firefighting, celestial navigation and “more than anything else – the qualities of good leadership.” She said she has seen firsthand that healthy waterways are integral to vibrant ecosystems, and that clean water is vital to our social and economic well-being. She plans to work to improve water quality, ensure public access to our shoreline and prepare for the challenges associated with sea-level rise and intensified storms.

In her words: “I am running as an engaged listener who will partner with the community, all departments of local government and neighboring townships. I will bring leadership, efficiency and fresh perspective to the Board of Trustees.”

Peter Johnstone Jr.


Hamlet: Southold 

Occupation: Physical therapist, real estate agent 

Party lines: Republican, Conservative 

About him: Mr. Johnstone, 44, is a lifelong Southold Town resident with ancestry dating back to the 1600s. He has worked on the North Fork as a doctor of physical therapy for the past 20 years. Along with being a therapist, he has been a licensed real estate agent for the past 13 years.

His pitch: If elected Trustee, he plans to work with other local communities to ensure that our environment will be protected for future generations to enjoy. He said he feels in order to preserve the maritime habitat we have to progress toward more responsible solutions when working with waterfront properties. He will promote natural buffers and setbacks to improve water run-off. As housing transactions and construction projects increase, he said he wants to make sure that along with the homeowners “we can make sensible choices when trying to build around our delicate ecosystems.”

In his words: “As a community we have to balance growth and future preservation. I am committed to serving Southold Town and plan to represent everyone that enjoys the character of the land and people who live here.”

Eric Sepenoski


Hamlet: East Marion 

Occupation: Farmer

Party lines: Democrat, Working Families

About him: Mr. Sepenoski, 37, was raised on Sep’s Farm in Orient and East Marion, where he and his wife, Brenna, are now raising their son, Henry. A graduate of Greenport High School, he has restored local historic leaded-glass windows, taught college-level business and research writing and received a Ph.D. from Northeastern University for his study of North Fork agriculture.

His pitch: Mr. Sepenoski said he is running for Trustee to steward and protect the environment “at this pivotal moment in Southold’s history.” As the fourth generation of a local farming family, he said he has lived through changes to our lands, waters and way of life. He is seeking public office because the future depends on conserving our soils, forests and freshwater aquifer. He said he will fight for access to cleaner waters, to restore shellfishing grounds and to prepare for rising seas.

In his words: “In the tradition of dedicated Trustees before me, it is my civic duty to make science-based decisions and to know the history of our town. I will use my training as a researcher and writer to inform and engage the public in the work we do for the environment and our local economy. I am rooted in this community and the land and I will serve our town with independence, humility and integrity.”

Elizabeth Peeples


Occupation: Owner/farmer, Little Ram Oyster Company

Hamlet: Southold 

Party lines: Democratic, Working Families

About her: Ms. Peeples, 40, is an oyster farmer raising oysters and a young son with her wife on the North Fork. She has two decades of experience as a designer for an architecture firm and is inspired by the hard work of our oysters. She said she understands the importance of creating balance within the constructed world to preserve and protect our waterways.

Her pitch: Planting roots in Southold Town has deeply enriched and developed her life experiences, Ms. Peeples said, as an oyster farmer, wife, mother, LGBTQ activist, entrepreneur and environmental advocate. Shellfish farming provides a local and regenerative food source that has a direct positive impact on improving the water quality. She said she is committed to ensuring that the waters surrounding the North Fork and the East End continue to improve for her son’s future and for future generations. Informed by the past and history of our unique agricultural and maritime region, she said, she is ready to serve Southold Town – to engage, listen and evolve with a fresh outlook.

In her words: “I am dedicated to encouraging the growth of our community and town with responsibility and will prioritize accountability and transparency for both its citizens and leaders. Integrating outreach and public education will empower our diverse community in working together to promote coastal resiliency and the health of our valuable estuary.”

Jason Taggart


Hamlet: Southold 

Occupation: Union utility worker

Party lines: Republican, Conservative

About him: Mr. Taggart, 48, is a third-generation Southold resident who grew up in Laughing Waters. For 25 years he has been a lineman for the local utility company and previously owned a diesel and gas tank cleaning company. He and his wife, Nicole, were married in 2001 and are raising two daughters in Southold. They spend their weekends and leisure time enjoying the local beaches, fishing and boating.

His pitch: Mr. Taggart said the North Fork is in the midst of a great transition and with its newfound popularity, the landscape has changed considerably over the past years and will continue to do so. As a third-generation family member, growing up in one of Southold’s waterfront communities, Laughing Waters, he said he has seen the outsize influence of these past few years. New homeowners try to alter or change the area’s greatest resource — wetlands, bays, creeks and waterways. As a family man and lifelong resident, he said, he is very aware of the current and potential impact these changes will have, positive and negative.

In his words: “I am truly invested in and committed to the North Fork community and want to do my part to serve and manage our quality of life on the waters and wetlands for my daughters’ future, for your family and all future generations.”