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Welker Wins for County Legislator, Romaine for Executive

Wed, 11/08/2023 - 16:37
Ann Welker, a Southampton Town trustee, won her race for the Suffolk County Legislature seat in the second district on Tuesday, beating her Republican opponent, Manny Vilar of Springs.
Durell Godfrey

Tuesday night's unofficial results for Suffolk County races show Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, a Republican from Center Moriches, prevailing in his bid for the county executive's seat, while Ann Welker, a Democrat and a sitting Southampton Town trustee, appears to have won the county legislator race in the second district.

Mr. Romaine defeated his Democratic opponent, Dave Calone, an entrepreneur and former prosecutor, with 57 percent of the vote, with all 1,057 county election districts reporting. His margin of victory Tuesday night was 39,400 votes.

Ms. Welker, who in 2017 was the first woman ever elected as a trustee in Southampton, won 61.4-percent voter approval over the 38.6 percent earned by her opponent, Manny Vilar, a retired state parks police officer who heads the East Hampton Town Republican Committee. Ms. Welker, also the Working Families candidate, received 4,187 more votes than Mr. Vilar, who also ran on the Conservative Party line.

Mr. Romaine's win secures a seat that has not been held by a Republican since 2011; the current Democratic county executive, Steve Bellone, was term-limited and could not run again. Ms. Welker's victory retains a Democratic seat on the Republican-controlled Legislature, which flipped from blue to red in 2021 for the first time in 16 years.

"You've given me a large mandate tonight, and I plan to use that mandate to move this county forward," Mr. Romaine said in his victory speech, according to Newsday.

Mr. Vilar lamented that "the South Fork, despite its natural beauty and affluence, is increasingly becoming unaffordable and unrecognizable to the less wealthy. While environmental preservation is a noble cause, we must not overlook the fact that our local families, who are struggling to make ends meet, are the ones in dire need of preservation."

Ms. Welker could not be reached for comment Wednesday. 

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