Southold Town Democratic Committee Chairman Art Tillman announced Jan. 2 that he will be stepping down this month, after five years leading town Democrats.
In an announcement to the press Tuesday morning, Mr. Tillman said there will be an election for his post at the committee’s January 11 meeting at Greenport’s Episcopal Church, and Kathryn Quigley, who managed last year’s town campaigns for the Democrats, will run for the position.
“She did an outstanding job and, though not successful, we are quite pleased with the numbers,” said Mr. Tillman. “In a number of cases we outpolled the Republicans by large margins and would have elected our candidates had it not been for their Conservative Party cross endorsements.”
Ms. Quigley, 36, grew up in Mattituck and returned to the North Fork in 2011. She has a Masters Degree in International Affairs from Columbia University, and worked on former President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign in Pennsylvania and Indiana.
She said Tuesday that the former president’s recent call to young people to get involved locally, along with her desire to see more women in positions of political leadership, inspired her to join the town Democratic Committee.
“I’m humbled and honored for the opportunity to serve as Chair of the party. Art graciously welcomed me into the Committee last year, encouraged new initiatives and energy on several fronts, and now the party is stronger for it,” she said in a prepared statement. “He has dedicated himself tirelessly as Chair for five years, and we are indebted to him for his commitment and leadership. Art led with humility, openness and a belief in the importance of community. I hope to carry that example with me into this position.”
Southold Democrats were unsuccessful in each of their races this past fall.
“It was truly crushing to see a group of individuals who worked so hard and were so uniquely qualified, not be able to pull off a win,” said Ms. Quigley. “I want to be part of ensuring that doesn’t happen again. My ultimate goal is to create a healthy, vibrant and active party that can ensure wins for the best possible candidates to lead this town. In order to get there, we need to attract new people to the party, raise more money, and build the case that Democratic values will strengthen Southold now and into the future.”
“It’s a great committee: there’s a core group of hard-working dedicated long-term members, who know all the history and the ins and outs of local politics. I’m excited to learn from them. And there’s a more recent influx of members eager to get to work, which is great energy to build from,” she added. “I see my role as an organizer, to engage as many people as possible on the issues impacting this town. And I look forward to connecting with many people, such as small business owners, farmers, and community — regardless of party affiliation — to see how the Democrats can respond to their concerns for Southold. The Democratic Party in Southold — just as it is nationwide — is positioned to make great strides. It’s an exciting time.”
Mr. Tillman’s full statement follows:
I am stepping down as Chairman of the Southold Town Democratic Committee. There will be an election for new Chairperson at our January meeting to be held at the Episcopal Church, Main St. Greenport.
It is time for a new generation to assume leadership. Kathryn Quigley will run for the position. I turned over much of the management to her in the last local campaign. She did an outstanding job and though not successful we are quite pleased with the numbers. In a number of cases we outpolled the Republicans by large margins and would have elected our candidates had it not been for their Conservative Party cross endorsements.
My initial goal when assuming the position was to get the Committee up to speed and fill all vacancies. This has been accomplished with a few exceptions. We still need two committee people from Fishers Island. There are many new and active Committee people who have added greatly to the effectiveness of the Party. I retire with a sense of accomplishment. During my tenure, we reactivated the Southold Democratic Club which has put on numerous and well attended functions having guest speakers at regular scheduled meetings. We elected Al Krupski to the County Legislature, Nick Krupski to the Trustees and Brian Hughes to Town Justice. A great accomplishment was Judge Bill Price changing his registration to Democrat and have him reelected.
I have encouraged the participation of people who prior were not active in our Committee. Many came from Organization for America and the anti-Zeldin coalition. They have added greatly to the Democratic Party’s effectiveness and presence in Southold politics. Our success can further be measured by the Republican Party’s advancing many of the issues Southold Democrats have been advocating for years such as clean water, all manner of environmental concerns, land preservation, etc.
My great disappointment is not electing more Democrats to local positions. This has been hindered by the ongoing Conservative – Republican cross endorsement deals, all of which have been hatched out at the County level. The Conservative party does not exist as an organized political entity in Southold Town. There in no Southold Town Conservative Committee. In their Southold the Suffolk County Conservative Committee makes deals with Republicans for cross endorsements. One would assume the Conservative Party would be true to their basic philosophical belief in fiscal conservatism, yet in 2017 when the Southold Republican administration broke the State Tax Cap by a whopping 5.7 percent, the Conservative Party endorsed the Republicans who did so. Truly the Conservative Party cares little for their own fundamental less government spending philosophy and will cross endorse Republicans who give them the most positions on the ballot Countywide. Southold needs are little considered.
Our Party will be in good hands. We look forward to the dynamic leadership about to begin. I am confident the Democrat tide sweeping all of Suffolk County will finally arrive here. We have great allies in this endeavor with the help of Congressman Zeldin and President Trump.
Art Tillman, Chairman
Southold Town Democratic Party Committee