The third match between the candidates running for Southampton supervisor turned personal Monday night as incumbent Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and former Supervisor Linda Kabot pointed fingers at each other for the town's past financial problems.
Throne-Holst, an Independence Party member running with Democratic backing, is up against Kabot, a Republican who also has the Conservative line, whom she defeated in 2009. At the debate Monday night, hosted by the Hampton Bays Civic Association, Throne-Holst blamed Kabot for financial mismanagement that led to the town's credit rating being lowered. A packed crowd of about 100 residents watched at the Southampton Community Center.
Kabot, meanwhile, said she laid the foundation in her two years in office for the turnaround Throne-Holst is claiming credit for and also 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 and charged with drunken driving on Labor Day of 2009. She was later acquitted, after she lost the election. Kabot also lost a 2011 write-in bid against Throne-Holst.
A Kabot ad that showed Throne-Holst with a Pinocchio nose also came up in the debate. Maria Hults, a director of the civic association, called the Kabot ad "tasteless."
Throne-Holst became emotional in her closing statements.
"I've been called a liar. I've been called untrustworthy," she said. "My face has been de-faced 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 her of lying, as "fair" and "political satire."
Both candidates said that the town needs to improve code enforcement in Hampton Bays, where residents complain about illegal rentals and overcrowded houses. Both candidates also said they wanted to do more to improve water quality.
But Kabot accused Throne-Holst of protecting the restaurant Rumba in land-use matters in the town's jurisdiction. It is a small but bustling restaurant that neighbors have complained violates code enforcement. Throne-Holst acknowledged the owners have donated to her campaign.
Throne-Holst defended the restaurant as a successful business employing 50 young people. She said it has received no special treatment. "Here we have a business people love," she said and she said the owner is trying to come into compliance.
She also mocked Kabot's idea, floated at the debate, of having a developer move it to another location. "That is the kind of promise you can make -- unrealistic, tax and spend promise you can make when you're not in office," she said.