Tuesday’s meeting was the last for Councilman Chris Talbot and Highway Superintendent Peter Harris. Both elected officials announced their retirement earlier this year and were recognized with a plaque for their service prior to the regular session.
“I have probably worked with Pete more than anyone in Town government the past 23 years I’ve been here and I have to say it’s been an honor,” Supervisor Scott Russell said. ”In all honesty Pete [your retirement] might be better for you and your family, but it is certainly not better for Southold.”
Mr. Harris, 60, remained the only elected Democrat in town government after former councilman Al Krupski was voted to the Suffolk County Legislature earlier this year, and he shocked his party in May by announcing he wouldn’t seek re-election.
“I thought this would be easier, but I guess after this many years in the business it’s going to be hard to walk away, even though it’s my choice,” Mr. Harris said Tuesday. “It’s a 24/7 job … I had a great work ethic that was passed on to me from my parents and that I believe I passed on to both my two children. I am going to miss it. I truly love Southold.”
He served 12 years as head of the highway department. Previously, he worked 24 years as the state Department of Transportation’s highway maintenance supervisor responsible for Southold and Shelter Island towns. He started as a laborer, a job he held for three years.
Mr. Harris is being replaced in January by Republican Vincent Orlando, a former town councilman, who takes the oath of office in January.
Councilman Talbot was also honored by his fellow board members Tuesday. Mr. Talbot, a Republican, decided earlier this year not to seek re-election after serving one term on the board.
“Chris, I do want to tell you you’re a better man than me,” Mr. Russell said. “Chris did exactly what he said he was going to do; run for office, step in, make a difference and then leave. You rarely see in politics someone who sticks to his word. His approach to everything was with his uncompromising values — sometimes painful, but that is besides the point — he is a real man of integrity.”
A Southold native, Mr. Talbot championed small business, conservation and working toward a more efficient government.
“It is very, very rewarding to be able to serve your fellow residents,” Mr. Talbot said Tuesday. “I want to thank the town, Supervisor Scott Russell and the other board members for putting up with me.”
Fellow Republican and former Town Trustee Bob Ghosio will fill his seat in January.