In what is expected to be a hotly-contested off-year election for Southampton Town Board, Fleming, an attorney who is a former welfare Fraud Unit chief for the Manhattan district attorney's office, smiled broadly as Steve Lynch, head of the town's Independence Party, announced its endorsement of the Democrat.
In November's race, the Independence Party endorsement went to two other candidates for town board, and it provided the margin of victory that kept Fleming off the town board.
"I wasn't chairman then," Lynch said Monday. He said Fleming has the education and the background to deal with the town's multimillion-dollar debt, an issue which is expected to dominate the race.
Fleming promised to put the interests of the town ahead of "the special interests of a few" and said she was "deeply humbled and honored. I will not let the Independence Party down."
William Hughes, her GOP opponent who is now a town police lieutenant, could not be reached for comment. Neither has held elected office.
Frank McKay, who heads both the Suffolk County and State Independence parties, also said he was pleased with the endorsement.
While neither candidate detailed how they would resolve the town's $10-million debt, Lynch said he expected both would "hammer out" their views before the March 9 special election. The Independence Party's Wilson Pakula authorization, needed under state law to allow a candidate to run on another party's line, must be filed this week.
The town board seat became vacant on Jan. 1, when Democrat Anna Throne-Holst was sworn in as supervisor. The other three town board seats are held by Republicans.