Hampton Bays native Julie Lofstad was victorious by a wide margin Tuesday night in the special election to fill the Southampton Town Board seat vacated by Bradley Bender.
Ms. Lofstad, a Democrat, took home 2,771 votes or 61.7 percent of the vote while her Republican opponent, Richard Yastrzemski, took home 1,721 votes, or 38.3 percent.
Former Councilman Bender pleaded guilty in November to federal charges that he conspired to sell prescription drug pills. He immediately resigned from the board.
Ms. Lofstad is an engineer who worked for the Port Authority at the World Trade Center but returned home to manage her husband’s commercial fishing business after September 11, 2001.
Ms. Lofstad was also instrumental in the creation of the Southampton and Hampton Bays farmers markets, co-founded the Hampton Bays Mothers’ Association and has been active in parent groups at the Hampton Bays schools.
Mr. Yastrzemski is a financial advisor and deputy mayor of Southampton Village, who ran unsuccessfully for Town Supervisor last fall.
Ms. Lofstad was the only one of the three Democratic candidates for Southampton Town Council last fall who was not elected last November. Her election tonight gives Democrats the majority of the five-member board.
In this special election, she was the candidate on the Democratic, Independence and Conservative party lines.
In today’s special election, Ms. Lofstad took home 1,957 votes on the Democratic Party line, 362 votes on the Conservative Party line and 452 votes on the Independence Party line.
There were 2 write-in votes.
The Suffolk County Board of Elections had received more than 500 absentee ballots as of Tuesday afternoon, and had received requests for more than 950 ballots since the special election was announced, leading to early fears that the contest would not be decided until all the absentee ballots were counted.
But with 1,050 votes separating the candidates after in-person votes were counted Tuesday night, Mr. Yastrzemski would not stand a chance at the lead even if he were to win the vote on every absentee ballot distributed. In total, 4,494 ballots were cast in Southampton’s 42 voting district.
According to Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman’s Chief of Staff Connie Conway, “If no one contests the numbers, then whomever wins can be sworn in by the Town Clerk to take their seat immediately.”