Southampton Town Supervisor Linda A. Kabot remained in seclusion Monday after her early-morning arrest on a drunken driving charge in Westhampton Beach that could damage her chances for re-election in November.
Refusing to speak with reporters, Kabot issued a statement saying she would fight the charges and defend her credibility as a public official.
"Please respect my privacy. Let the process run its course," the statement said. "On the advice of my attorney, there will be no further comment at this time."
According to a police report, Westhampton Beach village police stopped Kabot early Labor Day morning after they saw her 2006 Toyota cross the double yellow line before making a left-hand turn onto Main Street. Kabot's eyes "were red and glassy and her breath smelled strongly of an alcoholic beverage," the report said.
Kabot, 41, who lives in Quogue, was arrested after she refused to submit to a breath test and failed "all" sobriety tests. Police would not identify how many or what kind of sobriety tests were administered.
"It's unfortunate that she didn't have a driver," said Westhampton Beach Mayor Conrad Teller, a former Southampton Town police chief.
Her arrest sent shock waves through Southampton political circles, already roiled from a tumultuous season that saw Kabot, a Republican, briefly dropped from her party's ticket. Kabot was elected supervisor in 2007, becoming the town's first Republican female supervisor.
Sally G. Pope, a Democratic member of the Southampton Town Board, expressed shock when she learned of the arrest.
"It's a big surprise," she said. "I've never seen her drunk."
Asked how the arrest might affect Kabot's re-election, Pope said, "Well, it's not something people look on favorably."
Kabot was dumped from the GOP slate in May but returned in July after striking a deal to put former rival and town Conservative Party chairman James Malone on the ticket. The deal came after Kabot had filed petitions to run in a Republican primary against Malone.
Former Southampton Supervisor Patrick Heaney - a onetime bitter political foe - said Kabot should resign from her post. Kabot defeated Heaney in a tight four-way contest for supervisor in 2007 and then blamed him for the town's current multimillion-dollar debt.
"The town supervisor is not supposed to be a poster child for why we need to have DWI checkpoints," said Heaney, now the economic development commissioner for Suffolk County. "I consider this a grave matter because Linda had a responsibility to uphold the law."
Heaney called Kabot's arrest "a game changer" that seriously threatened her political future and urged her to pull out of the race.
Kabot appeared Monday before Westhampton Beach village Justice Robert A. Kelley Jr. and was released on her own recognizance. She avoided photographers as she left the courthouse.
Calls to her home were not returned. A man at her house told reporters they were trespassing and said he would call police if they did not leave.
The situation "would be difficult for any family to grapple with," said Anna Throne-Holst, the town board member nominated to run against Kabot by the Democratic, Independence, Working Families parties. "I would hope our community respects both the privacy and sympathy they deserve at this time."
With Jennifer Smith