Challengers Prevail in Greenport Village Elections
Pictured Above: The winners of Tuesday’s Greenport Village Election (l-r) Lily Dougherty-Johnson, Kevin Stuessi and Patrick Brennan.
Greenport voters have spoken: Kevin Stuessi will be the new village mayor, and the board will have two new trustees: Planning Board members Patrick Brennan & Lily Dougherty-Johnson.
In all, 422 people cast ballots in person and 84 more sent in absentee ballots — about half of the registered voters in Greenport and far higher than the turnout in recent elections, as voters were galvanized by the initial disqualification of seven out of nine candidates by the village clerk.
Only the two incumbents in the race — Mayor George Hubbard and Trustee Jack Martilotta, were initially certified to have their names appear on the ballot.
The names of five of the initially disqualified candidates, including all three winners, were later reinstated on the ballot by a settlement with the village signed under the direction of the New York State Supreme Court.
Mr. Hubbard won 90 votes on the An Honest Greenport party line, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company co-founder Richard Vandenburgh won 80 votes on the One Greenport party line and Mr. Stuessi, a developer of restaurants and hotels and founder of Peconic Holdings, won 250 votes on the Anchor of Hope party line.
The mayor-elect appeared to wipe tears from his eyes as the results were announced by the village’s Special Election Counsel, Steve Leventhal, just after the 9 p.m. poll closing at the Greenport Firehouse. Mr. Hubbard and Mr. Martilotta then quickly shook Mr. Stuessi’s hand.
“I’m humbled, very much so, and honored at the same time that the community voted for me in such a wide margin,” said Mr. Stuessi after the results were announced. “I didn’t walk into it confident. I walked into it happy with how many people I’ve gotten to know in the village in my time here, and I’m thrilled and ready to get to work and serve the community.”
Before embarking on a campaign for mayor, Mr. Stuessi spent months walking door to door getting signatures on a petition to request the village board enact a development moratorium while it works to update the zoning code and its Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan.
“Embrace the people that work there,” he said would be his first task in office. “Get to know the team that’s there already: The road crew, the people that take care of electrical, those who work behind the desk, who I already know.”
“I’m disappointed, but I put in 16 good years to the village. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. We slung no mud or anything else, and people decided,” said Mayor Hubbard. “The people are going to get their new board and I wish them the best.”
Mr. Hubbard, a 45 year member of the Greenport Fire Department, said he will continue to serve the village.
“I’m not moving anywhere. I’m not going away,” he said.
Mr. Vandenburgh was not present at the poll closing.
In the Trustee race, Planning Board chairman, boatbuilder and architect Patrick Brennan won 246 votes on the Eight Bells party line, while Ms. Dougherty-Johnson, also a Planning Board member and longtime community volunteer, won 244 votes on the Our Home party line. Monique Gohorel, who has been involved with the village’s farmers market and Business Improvement District, on its affordable housing committee and on a forum on hunger with CAST, won 149 votes on the Community First party line. Mr. Martilotta, a science teacher at the Greenport School and Commander of the Greenport VFW, received 110 votes on the Porters party line.
There were 24 write-in votes, although they were not read aloud at the poll closing Tuesday evening. Retired Superintendent of Utilities for the village and former Village Trustee William Swiskey declined to sign the settlement with the village and instead ran a write-in campaign.
“I’m looking forward to getting into the work,” said Mr. Brennan. “The top priority is making sure the board feels it’s a cooperative spirit for everyone to work together. I think we have a little bit of team-building to do. There’s a lot of public interest in transparency with communications.”
“I’m sure the Planning Board will do fine,” said Mr. Brennan, who, along with Ms. Dougherty-Johnson, will need to vacate his seat there. “We have good people on the board still, and I have some ideas I’d like to share with the mayor to possibly fill those empty seats.”
“Elections — tightening up the whole process of how people communicate with voters and people who are running,” Ms. Dougherty-Johnson said would be her first priority when she takes office.
“I’d like to really get to work on updating codes, updating zoning,” she added. “I feel like you could do the moratorium in three months and get some codes and then stop it. I don’t want to see a lot of stoppage of business but I want us to tighten things up and change some things that we just haven’t done in so long.”
Mr. Martilotta declined to comment to the press.
According to New York State Law, the village election was run by Village Clerk Sylvia Pirillo, who had initially disqualified many of the candidates from having their names appeared on the ballot. The day’s voting was under the watchful eye of a special election attorney hired by the village, along with poll watchers and election inspectors.
“I can tell you all that it was a very smooth and well-run election, due to the incredibly hard work of the election inspectors, who are here since 6 a.m. and worked straight through,” said village Special Counsel Steve Leventhal, who said he was hired by the village to assist the clerk and election inspectors in running the election.