The third match between candidates for Southampton supervisor turned personal as incumbent Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and former Supervisor Linda Kabot pointed fingers for the town's fiscal woes.
Throne-Holst blamed Kabot, whom she defeated in 2009, for mismanagement that led to the town's credit rating being lowered in 2010.
Kabot countered that she laid the foundation in her two years in office for the turnaround Throne-Holst claims and accused her of "pay to play" by protecting an out-of-compliance restaurant from tougher code enforcement.
After one particularly spirited back and forth over finances, Kabot, standing up, twisted her torso around. "It's politically opportunistic to try to spin it and spin it and spin it and try to paint it on my back," she said. "You know people, the knife went in pretty bad in 2009. But my scars have healed. And I'm brave and courageous and I'll stand up here and ask for your vote."
Kabot lost to Throne-Holst in 2009 after two years in office. She had been arrested on DWI charges on Labor Day of 2009. She was acquitted after the election. Kabot also lost a 2011 write-in bid against Throne-Holst.
A Kabot ad, which showed Throne-Holst with a Pinocchio nose, also came up in the debate, hosted Monday by the Hampton Bays Civic Association, for which about 100 residents packed the Southampton Community Center.
Maria Hults, a director of the civic association, said the Kabot ad was "tasteless."
Throne-Holst grew emotional in her closing statements. "I've been called a liar . . . ," she said. "My face has been defaced in the media. I'm running on my record."
Kabot, in an interview after the forum, said her opponent "had twisted the ad into a sob story." She described the ad, which accuses Throne-Holst of lying, as fair, "political satire."
Both candidates said the town needs to do more with code enforcement in Hampton Bays, where residents complain about illegal rentals and overcrowded houses. Both also said they want to do more to improve water quality.
But Kabot accused Throne-Holst of protecting Rumba, a small but bustling restaurant that neighbors have complained violates town code. The owner has given campaign contributions to Throne-Holst, the supervisor acknowledged.
"Certainly in-kind hospitality has been granted," Kabot said.
Throne-Holst defended the restaurant as a successful business employing 50 young people. She said it has received no special treatment. "We have a business people love," and the owner is trying to come into compliance, she said.