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Democratic Candidates Sweep Race for East Hampton Town Trustee

Wed, 11/08/2023 - 06:50
Jim Grimes, right, the top vote-getter in the race for East Hampton Town trustee, and Tom Flight, left, newly elected to the East Hampton Town Board, were among the successful candidates gathered at Coche Comedor in Amagansett Tuesday night.
Durell Godfrey

All seven of the incumbent East Hampton Town trustees were re-elected on Tuesday, and two new Democratic candidates, Patrice Dalton and Celia Josephson, will join them on the board, according to unofficial results posted by the Suffolk County Board of Elections. 

The results represent a clean sweep for Democrats on the nine-member body, with Ms. Dalton and one incumbent, Jim Grimes, cross-endorsed by the East Hampton Town Republican Committee. Those elected on Tuesday prevailed over the Republican candidates John Dunning, Mark Edwards, and Kurt Kappel.  

The re-elected incumbents are Francis Bock, the trustees’ longtime clerk, or presiding officer; the deputy clerks, Mr. Grimes and Bill Taylor; John Aldred, Tim Garneau, Ben Dollinger, and David Cataletto. Ms. Dalton and Ms. Josephson will join them upon their swearing-in, in January 2024. They will succeed Susan McGraw Keber and Mike Martinsen, who did not seek re-election. 

As he has in previous elections, Mr. Grimes apparently, running on the Republican, Democratic, and Conservative lines, was the top vote-getter of the 12 candidates running this year with 5,865 votes. Ms. Dalton, running on the Democratic, Republican, and Working Families ballots, was next with 5,485 votes. 

This year’s election will realign future elections for trustee. Thanks to Senate Bill S6331, signed by former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo shortly before his 2021 resignation, the terms of office for the trustees will be staggered, with the five candidates receiving the most votes serving a four-year term and the remaining four successful candidates serving a two-year term. Thereafter, elections will continue on a biennial basis, but with fewer candidates up for re-election and all elected trustees serving a four-year term. 

In addition to Mr. Grimes and Ms. Dalton, it appears that Mr. Bock (4,521 votes), Mr. Dollinger (4,416), and Mr. Taylor (4,414) will get five-year terms, although absentee ballots could change that. Ms. Josephson had 4,217 votes on Election Night, Mr. Cataletto had 4,216, Mr. Aldred had 4,015, and Mr. Garneau had 3,873, still far ahead of the Republican candidates.

This realignment, Mr. Bock told The Star last month, was one of his priorities. “What it’s going to do is, first of all, make it easier to fill a ticket,” he said. “Second, I hope that it will allow both parties to search for quality candidates.”

On Tuesday, the clerk spoke of the incoming board and priorities for the trustees, who have jurisdiction over many of the town’s beaches, waterways, and bottomlands, as well as some roads and trails. They also own land at Lazy Point in Amagansett, where residents own their houses but rent the underlying land from the trustees. 

“We have a lot of things coming up,” he said. “We have new funding coming from Orsted,” developer of the South Fork Wind Farm, which will pay the town and trustees around $29 million over 25 years. “I’m looking forward to moving with those projects,” which the trustees have said will be environmental initiatives. “I’m looking forward to getting to know the new people on the board, and seeing what we can do.” 

 

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