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Long IslandSuffolk

Dems, GOP split wins in town board elections

Bridget Fleming, center, candidate for Southampton Town Board,

Bridget Fleming, center, candidate for Southampton Town Board, is congratulated by supporters at her election night party as results come in, Tuesday. (March 9, 2010) Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

The two major political parties split the spoils last night, with Republicans maintaining a Town Board seat in Brookhaven and Democrats winning a board seat in Southampton, according to election results.

In Brookhaven, Republican Daniel Panico, 31, handily beat Democrat Douglas Dittko, 58, for the 6th District seat left vacant by the death of Keith Romaine.

Panico's win means Republican and Conservative members have a 4-3 edge on the town board.

However, Republican Kathy Walsh has been voting with the Democrats for several months, effectively giving Democratic Supervisor Mark Lesko and his supporters a 4-3 edge.

In Southampton, Democrat Bridget Fleming, 49, had third-party help in easily beating Republican William Hughes, 59, for the seat that became open when Anna Throne-Holst was elected town supervisor.

Her victory gives Throne-Holst, who sits on the board, another Democrat on a five-member board that has two Republicans and one Conservative. Fleming won by about 11 percentage points and her margin of victory was provided by the 636 votes she got on the Independence Party line.

Both Dittko and Panico are Manorville residents and members of the town's planning board.

Panico, a senior deputy Suffolk County clerk, has said he will push for a townwide vote on a Brookhaven property tax cap and propose a local anti-nepotism law. He has also pledged to slash "patronage positions" from Town Hall.

Panico graduated from Stony Brook University and earned a law degree from Touro Law Center. He grew up in the 6th District and graduated from William Floyd High School in 1996.

In Southampton, Fleming and her opponent had a lot of common background. Both are Irish Catholics from large families, with backgrounds in law enforcement. And, neither had held elected office before.

Fleming, of Noyack, is an attorney who worked for former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, and who ended up running his welfare fraud unit. She is in private practice, and also serves on the Noyack Citizen Advisory Committee.

She said she won by identifying voters who vote regularly and getting them to turn out. "There was a lot of shaking hands, a lot of shoe leather," she said when her victory became apparent about 9:30 p.m.

Fleming ran on both the Democratic and Independence lines, and was supported by Throne-Holst, a political independent who ran for office on the Democratic line.

In some cases, Throne-Holst could not even get someone to second a resolution she wanted to introduce.

But the other members of the town board did not always agree, and Throne-Holst has been able to put together a three or even four-vote majority on occasion.

In January, when she wanted to reappoint Comptroller Tamara Wright, the vote failed when two board members abstained.

But, the resolution passed when it was reintroduced a few weeks later.

With William Murphy

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