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Nov 13, 2019 10:47 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Absentee Ballots Could Change Southampton Town Trustee Election Results

Fifty votes separated Donald Law and Southampton Town Trustee Scott Horowitz for the fifth seat on the board. GREG WEHNER
Nov 13, 2019 1:28 PM

With nearly 800 absentee ballots still uncounted a week after Election Day, one spot on the Southampton Town Board of Trustees is still technically up in the air.

Separating incumbent Trustee Scott Horowitz, who received 5,583 votes, from challenger Donald Law, who collected 5,533 votes, is a mere 50 votes.

While there is a chance that Mr. Law could make up the difference when the absentee ballots are counted on November 18, the consensus is that Mr. Horowitz will retain his spot on the board for another two years.

“The trend usually mimics what the general election does,” Mr. Horowitz said on Wednesday. “It’s up to the voters. I worked hard for this town. I did the best I could. I took on some of the toughest problems that the Trustees face, and I did the best I could.”

Mr. Law said on Wednesday that he is optimistic that the votes could put him ahead of Mr. Horowitz, and he is counting down the days for the absentee ballots to be tallied.

Mr. Law and Mr. Horowitz are duking it out for the fifth and final spot on the board.

Incumbent Trustees Bill Pell, who collected the highest number of votes with 7,443, Ann Welker, who garnered 6,771, and Edward Warner Jr., who took in 5,820 votes, were all reelected to their seats for another two years.

Joining them, with the third-highest number of votes in the election, is Eric Shultz, who took a two-year hiatus from the board, only to come back with strong support from the public, who gave him 6,016 votes.

“Of all the times I ran, I have never gotten this much support from the public,” he said, adding that he was surprised.

Mr. Shultz said many people approached him before the election and expressed concern about the Rose Hill Road deal, in which the Trustees entered into an agreement with a homeowner who lived adjacent to a Trustee-owned property on Rose Hill Road. As part of the maintenance agreement, the Trustees allowed the homeowner to move a line of trees onto the Trustee property in exchange for taking care of the property and dredging the boat ramp there.

But he also noticed the Trustees were not operating how they had in the past.

Now that he is has been reelected, Mr. Shultz said he wants to begin to reestablish connections he had with the various public officials that affect the Trustees. He also plans to get up to speed with what has occurred during his two-year break from the board.

Mr. Shultz said he also wants to work with the other Trustees to set up committees to get people from the public involved in conversations about issues like shellfish, Trustee roads and beach access. In doing so, he said, it could set up a new group of people who want to serve as Trustees in the future.

In addition to the committees, he also wants to get working on some projects that he never finished while he was a Trustee — mainly, shellfish and dredging projects.

But in order to get those projects rolling, Mr. Shultz said, the Trustees are going to have to work together.

For the past four years, the Trustees have operated with a split board, politically. The makeup has been Mr. Horowitz, Mr. Warner and Trustee Bruce Stafford versus Mr. Pell and Ms. Welker.

After last week’s election, and Mr. Shultz’s addition, that split could now swing.

Despite party affiliation, Mr. Shultz, Mr. Horowitz and Mr. Pell all agreed that politics does not belong in the Trustees’ business.

Mr. Pell said he was surprised he received more votes than any candidate in the town — the exception was Town Justice Gary Weber. And while Mr. Pell has repeatedly complained about his uphill battle with the other members of the Board of Trustees, he said he is hopeful the board will continue to protect the bay bottoms and beach access for the people of the town.

“I hope the new board is a non-political board,” he said. “I hope with the new members, politics will be left out so we have a working board.”

Mr. Shultz agreed, and said politics should be left at the door.

“We’re holding the heart and soul of the community in our hands,” Mr. Horowitz said. “I’ve never viewed it with my colleagues as a political issue … none of the issues I took on were political issues.

“I would just love to see everyone respectfully work together,” he added.

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