Wanted: One village trustee. In Bellport, there have been no takers.
The manicured village of 2,300 residents on Suffolk's South Shore holds its annual election in two weeks, and no one signed up to run for a soon-to-be vacant seat, officials said.
There is a paucity of candidates for public office throughout Bellport, with only one person seeking the mayoral post and a lone incumbent in the race for two seats on the five-member board of trustees.
Mayor David Pate said a divide between himself and three sitting trustees -- James Vaughan, Alison Neumann and Dorothy Terwilliger -- is at least partly to blame for making public service appear less attractive in Bellport. Pate is not seeking re-election after taking office in July 2008.
"People have seen the viciousness and nastiness . . . They are asking, 'Why would I want to go through what I have witnessed the mayor of the village of Bellport go through?' " he said.
Pate said Vaughan, Neumann and Terwilliger are more concerned about the interests of residents who live in the less-affluent part of Bellport north of South Country Road. He accused them of not "looking out for the entire village."
Vaughan, who is seeking re-election, called the assertion "flat-out rude." He added that he represents "the wishes and values of the majority of the residents."
Neumann said Pate should "look in the mirror first" and that the "divide is made up of him." Terwilliger said "the village will go on" and accused Pate of failing to communicate with the three trustees.
Village officials are bracing for write-in candidates to play a role in the June 21 election. This year's vote will be the first in at least a quarter-century in which a seat has gone uncontested, said Scott Augustine, who has served as village clerk and village attorney during that time. A special election would be needed if there are no write-ins, he said.
"We're getting calls from people inquiring and you hear gossip, but I haven't seen anyone put a sign on a yard yet," Augustine said.
The trustee seat that will become vacant currently belongs to Scott A. Horsley, who is not seeking re-election. He said he wants to dedicate more time to his wife and his legal practice. Horsley said he's "disappointed" by the lack of candidates. He declined to address Pate's statements about a political divide in Bellport.
Pate, a research engineer at Brookhaven National Laboratory, said he's not running again because of work commitments and a desire to spend more time with family.
The candidate for mayor is William Veitch, a newcomer to village politics and vice president of sales for Kingsdown mattress company. He said his decision to run "is based on my desire to see the village run in a more civilized, efficient way."